Sara Glines named publisher of The News & Observer

A veteran publishing executive who also has worked extensively on the news side of the business has been named the new president and publisher of The News & Observer.

Sara Glines, 57, is joining The News & Observer from the Gannett newspaper chain, where she was president of the Atlantic Group, overseeing eight daily newspapers plus non-dailies in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. At the same time, she also was the president and publisher of the York Daily Record, a York, Pa., newspaper with a Sunday circulation of nearly 50,000.

The appointment of Glines, the first female publisher in The N&O’s long history, was announced Tuesday by the paper’s corporate parent, The McClatchy Co. of Sacramento, Calif. Glines succeeds Orage Quarles III, who retired in June at age 65 after serving as the paper’s publisher for 16 years.

Glines, who assumes her new role at The N&O on Sept. 26, takes over as the paper is transitioning from print to digital. Like newspapers across the country, The N&O has suffered from declining ad revenue for print as advertisers have moved online, necessitating major staff cuts.

“Sara’s involvement in the digital transformation of our industry has been extensive,” Mark Zieman, McClatchy’s vice president of operations, said Tuesday morning in a meeting at the paper’s downtown Raleigh office where he introduced Glines to employees.

Glines has overseen digital initiatives for nearly 20 years. She is a former editor-in-chief of New Jersey Online, the digital partner of the Star-Ledger. And she spearheaded converting brand-name magazines such as Car and Driver, Woman’s Day and Elle to the web while serving as managing director at Hachette Filipacchi New Media.

Glines also was the vice president of interactive for the East Coast operations of MediaNews Group, managing internet advertising, editorial and technical operations for 14 daily newspapers.

Jim McClure, editor of the York paper, said that Glines “was a very good leader here. I consider her a mentor. She wanted you to succeed and the people she worked with to succeed.”

“I think you’re really fortunate to get her,” he added.

Zieman said that the top job at The N&O attracted a flock of strong candidates with publishing experience, corporate experience, newsroom experience and “strong digital revenue experience.” But Glines won the job because she checked all of those boxes

Glines told the staff that newspapers have a crucial role to play.

“We right wrongs,” she said. “We help businesses thrive. We make communities healthier.”

“For that reason,” she continued, “The N&O needs to be more than surviving into the future. We need to be a strong, growing, dynamic presence for many years to come. And my job – really, all of our jobs – is to find out how to make that happen.”

Glines’ newsroom experience also included a stint as Sunday editor for the New Haven Register in Connecticut and working for 10 years at the San Francisco Examiner.

“I love this industry,” she said. “I was raised in this industry and I’ve worked in it pretty much forever. My father was a newspaper editor. My husband ran two different news organizations in Pennsylvania until he stepped away about a year ago.”

Glines was born and raised in Rockford, Ill., where her father was managing editor of the town’s two newspapers.

Glines has family ties to the Triangle. Her husband, John Kirkpatrick, has a son and daughter-in-law living in Holly Springs who recently became parents of a baby girl.

“Being able to be close to family is really important to us,” she said.

The publisher is the top executive at The N&O, directly overseeing the publication’s business efforts. John Drescher, the paper’s executive editor, and Ned Barnett, editorial page editor, report to the publisher.

Glines described her political views as “centrist.”

“I don’t like the outer edges of either side,” she said. “I think I’m more liberal on some things and more conservative in some areas.”

But, she said, she doesn’t believe in meddling in the paper’s news coverage.

“We have to take on the big, tough stories,” she said. “If we’re not making people uncomfortable in the community, we might not be doing our job ... I shouldn’t be involved in that. I should be making sure we’re funding it.”

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii