MUNSTER | Times Media Co. Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. has been named vice president at Berkshire Hathaway's BH Media Group and will leave The Times in mid-May, the company announced Thursday.
Lisa Daugherty, Times advertising director and general manager of the company's Crown Point office, has been named interim publisher.
On Thursday, the 52-year-old Masterson said leaving The Times was the most difficult decision he has made in his long newspaper career.
"You guys are just doing an absolutely superb job," he said to employees at a morning meeting announcing the move. "I just love Lee Enterprises, The Times and Northwest Indiana."
He said the new job will give him the opportunity to be closer to his family and the chance to work for a media company in acquisition mode.
BH Media Group is a fully owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the company founded and headed by famed investor Warren Buffett. BH Media Group bought the 63 newspapers of Media General in May 2012 and has acquired other newspapers since. Berkshire Hathaway also is an investor in Lee Enterprises, the parent company of The Times.
Masterson will be missed both as leader of Northwest Indiana's largest media company and for his role spearheading a number of prominent community projects, said Times Executive Editor Bill Nangle.
"Bill Masterson's leaving is a loss for The Times and more so for Northwest Indiana," Nangle said. "He has been an outstanding leader."
Community projects Masterson spearheaded in Northwest Indiana, such as the building of a new Boys & Girls Club in Gary and the One Region initiative, will continue. Daugherty will take on Masterson's role in the community.
In addition, Mike Finissi, chief operating officer at NIPSCO, and Jeff Strack, vice president of operations at Strack & Van Til, will join Gary Jet Center owner Wil Davis in spearheading completion of the new Boys & Girls Club building, Masterson said.
Fundraising is complete for the main Boys & Girls Club project at the site of the former Tolleston School, and it is slated to open in October.
Daugherty was announced as The Times interim publisher Thursday by Kevin Mowbray, a former publisher at The Times and now vice president and COO of Lee Enterprises.
"When I was here, Lisa was my right-hand person," Mowbray said to employees. "I know she is a great people person and a great listener."
Daugherty has worked in a variety of roles at The Times during more than 20 years at the company. She has spearheaded a highly successful Buy Local campaign for businesses that involves chambers of commerce across the region.
"I'm a big believer managers actually work for employees," she said after Mowbray spoke. "And I want you to know I'll work for you."
During Masterson's stint at The Times, he has earned numerous honors, including the Publisher of the Year award last year from Editor & Publisher magazine. The magazine also named The Times as one of 10 newspapers in the country that "Do It Right" for its work in 2010.
Masterson was promoted in September to vice president of publishing for Lee Enterprises while remaining publisher of The Times. He has been publisher of The Times since 2006 and has worked 25 years as a newspaper publisher.
Lee Enterprises owns 46 daily newspapers nationwide and holds a joint interest in four others. It operates nearly 300 specialty publications. Lee's newspapers have a circulation of 1.2 million daily and 1.4 million Sunday. Lee's websites and mobile and tablet products attracted 23.2 million visitors in March 2013.