ST. ALBANS — Emerson and Suzanne Lynn, co-publishers of the St. Albans Messenger, today announced the Messenger, a six-day a week daily newspaper, would be sold to Jim O’Rourke, of Naperville, Il., a 25-year veteran of the newspaper industry, with experience specific to Vermont.
“We consider ourselves to be fortunate in two key respects,” the Lynn’s said in a statement. “First is the honor of working along-side an incredible staff and the people of St. Albans and Franklin County for almost four decades. Second, is being able to partner with Jim O’Rourke who has an outstanding track record of success in the industry, someone who values community journalism and someone who has a strong sense of integrity. Jim will be a wonderful match with our team, the Franklin County community, and the state of Vermont.”
The Lynns will continue to work in their present positions for the foreseeable future.
From 2014 to 2018, O’Rourke was president of World Book, Inc, a worldwide subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway and a company that specializes in E-Learning and Educational Publishing. Working from corporate headquarters in downtown Chicago, he was responsible for an operation involving over 200 people dispersed worldwide.
Prior to World Book, from 2012 to 2014, O’Rourke was president and publisher for a group owned by Digital First Media, one of the largest media companies in the U.S. He was responsible for over 30 daily and weekly newspapers published in the state of Michigan and specialized in developing a top-performing sales operation, cutting-edge digital initiatives, innovative subscription and retail sales programs and strategic efforts to improve content in each market served.
O’Rourke was employed by GateHouse Media from 2006 to 2012 where he held a number of key positions—Vice President of Consumer Marketing (company-wide), Regional Publisher/Vice President for newspapers in Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and West Virginia, and Publisher of the Taunton Daily Gazette in Massachusetts. GateHouse Media is another one of the nation’s largest newspaper companies, publishing145 daily newspapers and 325 community publications.
O’Rourke’s experience in Vermont was from 2003 to 2005 when he was the Circulation Director of the Burlington Free Press, which involved managing operations and learning about the counties surrounding Chittenden County, including Franklin County.
“Honestly, the ink in my veins goes back to when I was a nine-year-old delivering newspapers every day in the Philadelphia area. I have worked in the publishing business since and have had the opportunity to grow personally and professionally in an industry that is challenging but extremely fun to work in,” O’Rourke said. “I’m looking forward to being back in Vermont and am encouraged by the strength of the Messenger’s brand and the role it plays in Franklin County and in the state. That’s something I want to build upon.”
“Jim’s wealth of experience in the industry, and his proven track record at such high levels were key factors in our decision to have him be the next owner of the Messenger,” the Lynns said. “We have every confidence in his abilities and his leadership. Ownership of the Messenger has passed from one individual to the next since 1861, we had the honor of that stewardship for 37 years and we will support Jim and the staff in every way we are able as the transition takes place.”
Jim has been married to his wife Denise for 20 years and they have three children, a 19-year-old daughter in college, a 16-year-old son in high school and a 15-year-old daughter in high school.