Changes at the top come three months after paper was sold.
Hard on the heels of it recent acquisition by Willamette Week parent City of Roses Newspaper Co., Boise Weekly raided the state’s dailies to find a new editor and publisher.
On April 24, the paper introduced Sara Kuhl, 38, as its new editor. Kuhl, a former Idaho Press-Tribune news editor, replaced Robert Speer, who announced his resignation before the paper was sold to City of Roses.
A week later, Sean Flaherty, 36, was named publisher after serving a short stint as classified advertising manager at the Idaho Statesman.
“Sean brings to the newspaper a real strength and depth with classifieds in particular,” said Russ Martineau, City of Roses partner and Willamette Week vice president of sales and marketing. “Classifieds at Boise Weekly were practically nonexistent.”
Flaherty replaced former publisher Larry Ragan, who sold his controlling interest in the paper to City of Roses. Ragan still has an ownership interest and will stay involved in the paper, said Martineau: “[Ragan] has an important role in the community representing the newspaper.”
“[My role] hasn’t been determined yet but I’m going to be an active owner,” Ragan said.
Although he comes to the Boise alternative straight from the local daily, Flaherty said his primary experience was at Seattle Weekly, where he worked for several years as a classified advertising manager. Flaherty also noted that he was born into a newspaper family that ran community weeklies in the Seattle area.
“We’re going to grow [this paper] for what’s appropriate to the alternative news market here,” Flaherty said. “We want to retain our strong sense of news journalism.”
Kuhl has worked at daily papers for more than 15 years. Prior to her position with the Press-Tribune, she worked as night city editor and state editor at The Idaho Statesman.
Since leaving, she’s been itching to compete with her former employer and competition, The Idaho Statesman. For instance, she said that in the last week’s issue, Boise Weekly scooped the Press-Tribune — or as Kuhl puts it, “We kicked their butts” — on a story about the arrest of a candidate’s son.
Kuhl made the switch from the mainstream to the alternative press because she was looking for an opportunity to blend hard news without daily deadline pressure. “I wanted to be able to do really good journalism,” she said. “I think the atmosphere created here will allow us to do that.”
Kuhl believes the City of Roses’ acquisition will have a positive impact on the paper. “I think the change is good. I’m a firm believer that change is a good thing. It’s what keeps [a paper] vibrant and alive,” Kuhl said. “We’re really building something here. A year from now this is going to be a very different paper.”