by Pete Mazzaccaro

The Chestnut Hill Local’s Associate Publisher Larry Hochberger announced last week that he is resigning from the Local next month to take a new job at a weekly newspaper company in Ithaca NY.

That announcement made via a letter of resignation to the Chestnut Hill Local’s Board of Directors indicated his last day would be Sept. 28.

“It has been my privilege to have been entrusted with the Local for nine years,” Hochberger wrote. “I appreciate the trust and support I have been given and the commitment of volunteers and employees who care about the Local.”

When Hochberger joined the Local in 2010, it was in the middle of a fiscal crisis with expenses that were fast outpacing revenue. He worked to expand the paper’s print business, launching a “Welcome” magazine, printing college and independent school newspapers and recently began designing and printing East Falls Now, a paper produced through a partnership with the East Falls Community Council.

“The Local was insolvent, deep in debt and in default when I started, and we now have no debt and a significant reserve fund,” Hochberger wrote in his letter of resignation.

Local board president Bob Warner said board member Ellen Badger will chair a search committee the membership of which has yet to be decided. Warner said he’d be on that committee and would be joined by a representative of the Chestnut Hill Community Association, which owns the paper. He also hoped to add people to the committee with an expertise in publishing.

Warner was planning on an emergency meeting later on Monday, Aug 6, after the Local goes to press. He expected more direction to be formed at that meeting, including whether or not the Local would appoint an interim publisher while it searched more broadly for a permanent replacement.

One difficult aspect of the appointment is that the Local had just last month embarked on a strategic planning process, which will factor in the new hire. The search will also have to take precedence over work on that planning process.

“Whoever we pick will be very important in carrying out that strategic plan,” Warner said.

Warner said he was grateful for the job Hochberger had done at the Local over his nine years in charge.

“He brought the Local back from a precarious position and steered us through a difficult financial period,” Warner said. “We’re currently in a tough financial period, but it’s not as bad as nine years ago. We wish him all the best in his new position in Ithaca.”

Hochberger will become the Associate Publisher of Ithaca Times, a company that publishes a free weekly in Ithaca and nine affiliated subscription-based weeklies in surrounding communities. It claims a readership of 59,000 a week and also runs a robust, modern website.

It’s slightly bigger than the Local,” Hochberger said, “In many ways it has the same challenges as the Local, transitioning content from a print business to a new media world.”

Hochberger said he would miss working with people at the paper and in the larger community

“What is special about the Local is that it is one of the few independent, community-run newspapers,” he said. “It is part of what unites and makes this community special, and now is a crucial time for the CHCA and readers, organizations and businesses to think about what the Local means and how they want to support it.

Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at pete@chestnuthilllocal.com or 215-248-8802

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