Members approve slate of officers during annual meeting

Oct 16, 2020


PENSACOLA, Florida — Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications in Cordell, Oklahoma, was elected chair of the National Newspaper Association during the association’s 134th annual meeting. He had been treasurer.

Wesner publishes 15 titles in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.  A native Oklahoman, Wesner served as press secretary to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee before starting his company in 1988.

"As we enter this exciting new period, when the NNA Foundation will take over many of the wonderful programs NNA itself has normally managed, our board will be laser-focused on government affairs,” Wesner said.  “As the only newspaper group representing community journalism with a full-time public affairs staff in Washington, our responsibilities have never been greater, but with the talent and energy of this new board of directors, I know we’re up to the challenge.  Winning in Congress is not a guarantee, but you can’t win if you’re not heard. I can assure the members of this association we will be heard.”

Wesner succeeds Matt Adelman, publisher of the Douglas (Wyoming) Budget, who became immediate past president and will serve on the ex-officio board, as well as lead the National Newspaper Association Foundation as president.

John Galer, publisher of The Journal-News in Hillsboro, Illinois, was elected vice chair. He had been Region 4 director.

The Galer family came to the Journal in 1945 when John’s grandfather, Del, took over production management duties. John’s father, Phillip Galer, purchased the Journal’s first offset press in 1968. He and John, along with numerous others, helped expand the business during the ’70s and ’80s. Two weekly shoppers, Macoupin County Journal and M & M Journal, were started during that time. They also bought the Raymond (Illinois) News, and in 1996, John took over the responsibilities of publisher for the operation.

In 2004, John and his wife, Susan, bought the Montgomery County News, also in Hillsboro, and merged that publication and staff into the Journal operation. The Journal-News, a 6,000-circulation, twice weekly, has been well received throughout the community and is a community advocate.

Jeff Mayo, publisher/ president of Cookson Hills Publishers in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, was named treasurer.

Mayo is a third-generation newspaper publisher. Five of the last six generations of his family have been in the newspaper business in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

His grandparents, the late Wheeler and Florence Mayo, started the Sequoyah County Times in 1932. His father, Jim Mayo, took over the newspaper in the early 1970s. Jeff came back into the business in 2003 and became publisher in 2016.

Elected to the board as directors were Martha Diaz-Aszkenazy, San Fernando (California) Valley Sun; Beth Bennett, executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association; William (Bill) Jacobs, Jacobs Properties, Brookhaven, Mississippi; Louie Mullen, Blackbird LLC, Buffalo, Wyoming; and Bradley Thompson II, Detroit Legal News.

Aszkenazy is the publisher of the San Fernando Valley Sun and El Sol Newspapers (the Sun) a weekly bilingual community newspaper, founded in 1904.   She and her husband Severyn purchased the newspaper over 20 years ago. The Sun has a long history and strong reputation in the San Fernando Valley.  Its reporters continue to employ sound journalism practices and focus on hyper local issues that affect the community.

Bennett serves as chief lobbyist for the WNA and oversees all association functions, including finances, staffing, member resources and member programming. Her family published four newspapers in central Illinois, resulting in her being personally and professionally involved in the newspaper industry.

Jacobs is the former publisher and owner of The Daily Leader in Brookhaven, Mississippi. In years past, he has served as treasurer of the National Newspaper Association Foundation.

Mullen, who lives in Buffalo, Wyoming, with his wife and children, owns weekly newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Oregon and Washington. He grew up in the industry, starting as a paperboy for the Sioux City Journal at 4 years old and serving in every position in a newspaper from janitor to reporter to publisher.

Thompson is chair of Detroit Legal News Co. and is a founding board member of the Public Notice Resource Center (PNRC), which was established in 2002.

He is a resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is a member of the fifth generation of his family to lead the publicly traded Michigan company. The Detroit Legal News Co. publishes 10 newspapers in Michigan. Thompson is also chair of Printing Industries of America and a director for the Michigan Press Association. He has a long history of involvement in civic organizations and currently serves as vice chair of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan.

Adelman, NNA Executive Director Lynne Lance, Matt Paxton – publisher of the News-Gazette in Lexington, Virginia – and NNA’s Director of Public Policy Tonda F. Rush will serve on the ex-officio board.

The National Newspaper Association represents 1,600+ community newspapers across the United States.