The Kansas City Star has turned to Tony Berg, a Kansas native and University of Kansas graduate, to lead its continuing transformation in the digital world.
Berg was named president and publisher of the newspaper Wednesday by The McClatchy Co., its owner, filling a vacancy created by the September departure of Mi-Ai Parrish.
“This job sparked a great deal of interest both inside and outside of McClatchy,” Mark Zieman, vice president of operations at McClatchy and a former publisher of The Star, told a newsroom crowd in Kansas City. “I’m confident Tony has the skills to get us through the digital transformation. He has the drive.”
Berg, 38, joined The Star in April 2015 as vice president of advertising after serving in the same post at The Wichita Eagle. Both newspapers are McClatchy publications.
In Kansas City and Wichita, Berg was responsible for all advertising revenue from the companies’ print, digital and niche products. Each company restructured its sales force, launched new products and services and increased digital sales at a double-digit pace.
A native of Emporia, Kan., Berg began his newspaper career in 2001 as a multimedia sales executive at the Lawrence Journal-World. He served as its director of advertising from 2008 to 2010.
But, Berg told those in the Kansas City newsroom, The Star was the first newspaper he had ever read, and he had looked up to The Star during his time in Lawrence.
“I’m very honored to be standing at this position today,” Berg said. “The opportunity to lead The Star is very special for me.”
Berg said that the future of the publication is bright, buoyed by as large of an audience as it has ever had. Audience has benefited from growth in The Star’s digital viewership, through online, video and mobile products.
He also acknowledged the fight that The Star, like other newspapers, faces. Newspapers have struggled to generate revenues as readers and advertising have migrated to digital formats.
“It has no rules,” Berg said of the industry’s fight. “It has no regard for how long you’ve been in business. It’s a fight I’m confident we can win if we fight as a team.”
Berg also cited Kansas City’s thriving community, the newspaper’s public service mission and the journalism it performs.
“It’s what makes us so important to the towns we represent,” he said.
Prior to joining McClatchy in 2012, Berg was director of territory sales for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix.
Parrish, who had become president and publisher of The Star in mid-2011, left to become president and publisher of The Arizona Republic last year.
In naming Berg vice president of advertising at The Star, Parrish had said he was “a fantastic problem solver who is very engaged in the community.”
Berg graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife, Audrey, and their two children.