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Daily Star publisher jumping to Republic

Chase Rankin, the publisher of the Arizona Daily Star for about 14 months, is leaving Tucson to become an advertising vice president at the Arizona Republic. Rankin rose through the ranks of Lee Enterprises, a media chain that is part-owner of the Star. He is leaving to work for Gannett Inc., the larger chain that owns the Phoenix daily and half of Tucson's daily newspaper.

Before he was named publisher in March 2014, Rankin was the vice president of advertising sales and marketing at the South Park operation.

At a meeting Tuesday, Star employees were admonished not to discuss the move, although the paper later posted an announcement on its website, and Gannett put out an upbeat PR statement.

The search for a new publisher for Tucson's daily is underway, said John Humenik, the former publisher for the paper who moved up the Lee ladder in 2014.

Gannett and Lee remain partners in the Daily Star's operations, a legacy of their former joint operating agreement between the Star and the Tucson Citizen, which stopped printing in May 2009. Both chains have been pressed hard to survive as advertisers have dropped print newspapers over the past decade, with layoffs occurring on a regular basis. Both have also been heavily criticized for continuing to award top execs large bonuses, even as newspaper values have plunged.

Under Rankin's watch, the Star dropped a long-planned paywall on its website, changing the URL and color scheme while implementing a "Full Access" subscription plan that attempts to block non-paying readers from pulling up more than 10 articles per month.

Saying he was "thrilled to announce" hiring Rankin, Gannett regional corporate  advertising honcho Chris Stegman said, "Although he's never lived or worked in Phoenix, he's no stranger to us or the market as he has partnered on many initiatives and client strategies over the past several years."

"Although he assumes the role immediately, he will be working with Arizona Daily Star in a transition period over the short term and will split time between the markets," Stegman said.

Rankin was previously the advertising director for Lee's newspapers near La Crosse, Wis., with stints at the Suburban Journals in St. Louis, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Des Moines Register before that.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 4 »

Jun 3, 2015, 4:40 pm
-0 +1

@Bret Linden
Agreed, that is what frustrated me with them.

Jun 3, 2015, 1:37 pm
-0 +1

I’d be more receptive to the paywall model if such a model included a complete lack of ads. I’ll look at ads, or I’ll pay, but I won’t do both.

Jun 3, 2015, 12:32 pm
-0 +2

I stopped using the Daily Star’s website entirely due to the pay wall. In fact that is how I came across the Tucson Sentinel in the first place.

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Click image to enlarge

Rankin, in a screenshot from a 2014 video promoting the Star's paywall.