Bob Ashley announces retirement as editor of The Herald-Sun

Bob Ashley, editor of The Herald-Sun, announced on Tuesday that he will be retiring on June 23.
Bob Ashley, editor of The Herald-Sun, announced on Tuesday that he will be retiring on June 23. File photo

Bob Ashley, the editor of The Herald-Sun newspaper, is retiring after more than a decade of leading its newsroom.

Ashley’s last day at the paper will be on June 23, at which time Mark Schultz, the current editor of The Chapel Hill News and The Durham News, will assume the top position.

Ashley’s retirement comes as The Herald-Sun continues to revamp its digital publishing strategy after being acquired by The McClatchy Co., which owns 30 newspapers across the country, including The (Raleigh) News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer.

“I began thinking about retiring late last year (when McClatchy acquired The Herald-Sun),” Ashley said, noting that he will be turning 69 in six weeks. “I really wanted to stick around for the transition to where we are now.”

John Drescher, executive editor of The N&O, named Schultz as the new managing editor of The Herald-Sun. The position will run the day-to-day newsroom operations of The Herald-Sun.

“I want to thank Bob for his really great leadership of this newsroom for a long time, especially for the past five to six months since McClatchy purchased The Herald-Sun,” Drescher said. “He is a really terrific journalist, a really terrific editor and really good leader.”

Drescher added that Schultz will be an excellent successor. Schultz, who was previously an editor at The Herald-Sun, has overseen the N&O’s coverage of Chapel Hill since 2005 and Durham as well since 2009.

“I think the world of Mark, both as a journalist and as a person,” he said. “Mark has a really good ability to work with reporters. I think a lot of reporters would tell you that they have done some of the best work of their careers when they worked with Mark.”

Schultz said his role will be focused on how to expand the readership of the newspaper across all of its platforms.

“We have to figure out how to bring the conversation back to the newspaper and to our website. We have to figure out what is going to make people read us, because all that has changed,” he said. “All newspapers have to reassert themselves in their communities.”

Ashley’s retirement marks the end of a long career in the newspaper industry, in which he started and ended his career as an editor in Durham.

He first came to Durham as a student at Duke University, where he graduated in 1970 and was the managing editor of the student newspaper The Chronicle.

After leaving Duke, Ashley worked at The Raleigh Times and The Charlotte Observer before becoming the editor of The Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., and then at The Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, Ky.

He returned to Durham in 2005 to become editor of The Herald-Sun after Paxton Media Group acquired the newspaper.

He retired briefly in 2011 before returning to the paper in 2012. During his retirement he served a stint as the executive director of Preservation Durham, an advocacy group for the preservation of historic buildings in Durham.

“I think the future is exciting for The Herald-Sun,” Ashley said. “I think I am leaving this paper in a good place.”

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes