By BRANDON LOOMIS
Former Associated Press president and USA Today publisher Tom Curley is the Adirondack Explorer’s new board chairman.
Curley, a part-time Tupper Lake resident who retired from AP in 2012, replaces another retired news executive, Charlotte Hall, in leading the 17-member board. He joined the board last summer, and its members elected him president at their Aug. 25 meeting.
Hall is a part-time resident of Paul Smiths and was managing editor at Newsday and editor at the Orlando Sentinel before retiring. She has chaired the board for six years, and will remain on the board.
Curley began visiting the Adirondack Park in the late 1970s, when he was an editor in Rochester and became enchanted with the Park’s accessible wilderness with no toll booths and smaller crowds than he had found at national parks.
A year after finding “wall-to-wall traffic” and long restroom waits at Yosemite National Park, he came to the Adirondacks and found a peace that he has returned to ever since.
“It clearly is unique on earth,” he said, and eventually he found the Explorer a unique publication explaining the region’s environment and how to enjoy it.
Now the magazine and its website are evolving to become newsier and to present new forms of storytelling in an era when journalism is challenged but still essential, he said.
“It’s a rather extraordinary moment for journalism,” he said. “We’ve always thought we could do some good, and now we have to. We may be one of the last strong institutions standing.”
The Explorer’s status as a non-profit with a long history of reader and community support positions it well in an era when many publications are turning to fundraising, he said.
Curley worked 31 years for Gannett, and led the company’s consumer study preceding the creation of USA Today as a national publication. He became president and CEO of USA Today in 1986 and publisher in 1991. He remained there until he was picked to lead AP in 2003.
As a teenager he covered high school sports for his hometown newspaper in Easton, Pa. Later he covered the urban unrest of the late 1960s for newspapers in metro New York and New Jersey, and then became night city/suburban editor at the Rochester Times-Union.
Hall started her journalism career in 1972 and held editing positions with the Washington Star, Boston Herald-American and The Record of Bergen County, N.J., before joining Newsday in 1981. There, she oversaw a project that won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. From 2004 to 2010 she was editor and senior vice president at the Orlando Sentinel, where she led the paper’s digital transition.
She began regular visits to the Adirondacks in the early 1980s.
The Explorer’s focus on preservation and recreation matched Hall’s own interests when she was among the first subscribers two decades ago, she said, and she is proud of the in-depth reporting it has provided in years since. During her time on the board the magazine boosted its online presence with the Adirondack Almanack blog and its own news site, and its print product with glossy paper.
“I remember saying at one point that the magazine needs to be as beautiful as the Adirondacks,” Hall said. “I think we’re there now.”
Both former editors said it’s their love of the Adirondacks that keeps them involved in their protection.
“I still get goosebumps every time I see the sign that says, ‘Welcome to the Adirondacks,’” Curley said.
“I have discovered myself in these mountains and on these lakes,” said Hall, contrasting her time in the Park to a career in metro areas. “And in the communities, I have discovered the spirit and heart of Adirondack people.”