Middlebrook ends run at Tribune
September 8, 2005
After more than three years as publisher of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Paul Middlebrook is moving on to become the general manager/director of sales for two visitor Web sites.
The 25-year South Lake Tahoe resident took the reins as publisher of the Tribune in April 2002 after 21Ú2 years as advertising director. He will take his skills to the helm of Tahoe.com and Reno.com, Web sites owned and operated by the Tribune’s parent company Swift Newspapers.
The Tribune’s next publisher could be announced as early as next week, Middlebrook said.
It was a rewarding but demanding job, Middlebrook, 59, said while sitting in his nearly empty office Thursday.
“It was literally the ride of my professional life,” he said. “Let me put it this way, it’s been a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous honor to be able to guide what I’ve always considered the best source for local news for the community.”
The focus on community was one of the reasons Middlebrook was hired for the job, said Arne Hoel, Swift Newspapers president. “Paul is a great community person,” Hoel said by e-mail. “He associates with the common citizen as well as he does with community leaders. His passion for South Lake Tahoe youth is second to none as he has proven with many years of coaching Little League. He knows what is important and he has the ability to create long-term relationships.”
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John DiMambro, publisher of the Nevada Appeal and general manager of Sierra Nevada Media Group, a seven newspaper-group that includes the Tribune, praised Middlebrook’s past and future contributions.
“Paul is highly respected by his employees and community alike and has done a very able job as publisher of the Tahoe Daily Tribune,” DiMambro said. “Although Paul leaving the newspaper as publisher leaves a big void for us to fill, we are very excited about the skills he will bring to Reno.com and Tahoe.com, two very significant tourist Web site attractions.”
Paul’s duties will also keep him in the community, where he has managed several businesses, from restaurants to radio stations.
“He’s leaving the Tribune, but not the Lake Tahoe market,” said Bob Brown, chief operating officer of Swift Newspapers.
“Lake Tahoe is a world-class destination – with Tahoe.com Paul understands how to connect visitors to the market. He’s committed, he believes in what he does and his first interests are his customers and his employees.”
As Tribune publisher, Middlebrook helped bring new life to a business that had its ups and downs, Brown said.
“The TDT has always been an excellent journalistic newspaper – we had to find ways to bridge the gaps in other areas,” he said. “Paul helped change the environment.”
When he graduated from St. Mary’s College in 1967 with a degree in business administration, Middlebrook said he never envisioned becoming a newspaper publisher.
In 1980, he moved to South Shore to assist in the opening of Carlos Murphy’s restaurant. Later he worked in television as a sales director at Resort Sports Network and radio for KRLT/KOWL. He spent 16 years with the radio station with the last three as general manager.
The newspaper business, he said, posed different challenges, and some rude awakenings. People would call late at night with news. Others would ask him about road conditions. Some would approach him at the supermarket or after church to share their own opinion about something or other.
“The good news is I know everybody in town,” Middlebrook, known for his humor, said. “The bad news is I know everybody in town.”
Priding himself on community, Middlebrook believed he got the newspaper more involved with the community, citing examples such as working with Support South Tahoe Athletic Teams during its fund-raising campaign for school sports teams. His time as publisher made him realize the stock people put into the news and the impact of stories.
“We have to understand the power of the press,” Middlebrook said. “It can affect people’s lives either in a positive or negative way and that power has to be used cautiously.”
Middlebrook thanked staff members and the members of South Shore for “three of the best years of my life because it really has been.”