Sandy Hurley steers the Mount Airy (North Carolina) News to be a mirror that reflects the community

Teri Saylor

Special to Publishers' Auxiliary

Apr 1, 2022


Growing up in a family of newspaper readers, Sandy Hurley was in college studying to become a kindergarten teacher until the day she walked into the West Jefferson (North Carolina) Times, her local newspaper, to buy a subscription as a Christmas gift for her dad. A notice for a job opening caught her attention. She applied and got the job.

She never looked back.

“I applied so I’d have a job I enjoyed while going to college,” she said. “I haven’t left this industry since then. It was wonderful because it was a small newspaper where everyone did everything, and I learned so much by starting at a small paper.”

Hurley learned her lessons well. She worked her way through the ranks at various newspapers, and today she is the regional publisher for the Mount Airy Media Group, a division of Adams Publishing Group East (Tennessee/North Carolina/Virginia), which includes the daily Mount Airy (North Carolina) News, four weeklies and two magazines. She is currently serving a term as president of the North Carolina Press Association and North Carolina Press Services.

The flagship newspaper in the APG-East North Carolina group — The Mount Airy News — was founded in 1880. April 2022 marks a publication schedule change, converting from Wednesday, Friday and Sunday publication days to Tuesday and Thursday, adding in a weekend edition. Its circulation is 4,000, and newspapers are distributed by carriers and in the mail.


“To be the most comprehensive information provider through print and web-based products, earning customer loyalty by exceeding expectations of reliability and service while also serving the marketing needs of area businesses.” Our motto is “Your community, your voice in the Yadkin Valley,” and our mission statement is “Relevant news and marketing strategies that work.”


“We are fortunate to have dedicated people on our team. We range from those with 40+ years’ experience to some who are new to our business. Local reporters, editors, a digital and print sales team, as well as customer service and circulation are all local for our newspapers. We still have a partial production facility handling mailroom work, but we are printed at a sister newspaper. We also have a design center here and handle the graphics for our group of newspapers — for digital and online — as well as sister papers across the country and commercial customers in multiple states,” Hurley said.


“It is so important that we are seen as the community’s voice for our area. We need to be a mirror that reflects this community, and we are dedicated to that mission. We need to hold accountable those who make decisions for this area, and shining light on that information is important to us. Our sales team is dedicated to helping area businesses reach as many consumers as possible through print and digital avenues. Whether it is our newspapers, our magazine products, our websites, social media or targeted digital campaigns, we want customers to feel confident in partnering with us to gain more customers and build their business.”


Other publications in the Mount Airy News Media Group are: The Tribune (Elkin, North Carolina), published on Wednesdays; The Yadkin Ripple (Yadkin County, North Carolina), published on Thursdays; The Stokes News (Stokes County, North Carolina) published on Thursdays; The Carroll News (Carroll County, Virginia) published on Wednesdays; Mayberry Magazine and On The Vine magazine, both published quarterly.


Hurley says, “The highlights are both wonderful and sad, important and exciting. They are both historical records and documentation for the future. Many times, you hear that bad news sells, but honestly, a story about a well-known teacher, or an in-depth look at the opioid addiction in our communities, is just as important. To know that school systems keep scrapbooks from what is printed in our papers, parents still clip articles and put it on their refrigerators, and to know that in the wee hours of the morning, people are already online checking our news is very rewarding.


“The words of Dale Carnegie have stuck with me for many years. If you truly care about the person you are talking to, it will show in all that you do. We must care about our community — its safety, its livelihood and the many pieces that make us a wonderful area. When tough decisions must be made, I put it in God’s hands. Our industry faces many challenges, but finding strength through prayer has been instrumental. I have learned and been inspired by many people over many years. I am thankful to be in an industry where fellow publishers are quick to help each other, whether it is printing when a press goes down or your building is hit by a storm, to brainstorming a new idea — this is truly a wonderful industry.


Hurley advises, “Always be fair. Put yourself in the readers’ or the advertisers’ shoes. If it was your business, what marketing strategy would you use? If it was your house that burned, what help would you need? What do the firefighters feel, and how can we share their story?”


“I love to play bocce. I honestly love any competitive sports, but bocce is a game anyone can play.


“Oops, I’m not good with that one. I’m a workaholic. As our boys grew up, I made sure to not miss a school event or sporting event, even if it meant you finished work after the game. I am so fortunate to have a husband and two sons who have supported my career over the years.”


“Favorite book other than The Bible: — I love reading John Grisham. He is an excellent writer, and his twists and turns with the legal system are interesting.”


Sandra (Sandy) Hurley,
319 N Renfro St., Mount Airy NC 27030
(336) 415-4635