On eve of retirement, New England Newspapers publisher Andy Mick looks back
PITTSFIELD -- He was born into a military family in Texas, originally went to college in Florida to be a social worker, and never thought the newspaper business would turn into a career.
Andrew H. Mick, the president and publisher of New England Newspapers, which includes The Berkshire Eagle, has gone down a long and eclectic road.
Mick, who began his newspaper career in 1970 as a classified advertising representative at the Bradenton Herald in Florida, will officially retire from New England Newspapers on Sunday. Kevin Corrado, former publisher and president of the Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin, will replace Mick effective Monday.
Mick, 64, has been president of New England Newspapers Inc., which comprises The Eagle, the North Adams Transcript, the Advocate in Williamstown, and three papers in Vermont, since March 1999. He has been with MediaNews Group, NENI's parent company, since 1993.
"I've told people that somehow you just know" it's time to retire, Mick said. "I've been doing this for 43 years. It's time to turn these reins over to the next generation of leadership who will take what I've done -- good, bad and indifferent -- and build on it."
A former board member of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Mick said he intends to remain chairman of the Berkshire Compact for Education through the organization's spring meeting.
He has lived in several states but plans to spend his retirement in Richmond with his wife, Laurie, who works for Pittsfield's Department of Community Development.
"The Berkshires are home," he said.
Mick said he isn't sure of his future plans.
"I have an active mind and a lot of energy, and I'm pretty sure I'll be engaged in some sort of business enterprise," he said. "But it won't be a 60-hour-a-week, 24/7 commitment like the one I've had for a long time."
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary K. Grant, who also is involved with the Berkshire Compact, met Mick shortly after she became the school's president 11 years ago. It was through their service with the compact that Grant learned that Mick had received only an associate degree before he entered the newspaper business. She persuaded Mick to obtain his bachelor's degree at MCLA, which he did after taking night courses for three years.
"He was an excellent student," Grant said. "He graduated with honors. It was a lot of fun to have him on campus."
Eagle colleagues remember Mick as a voice of reason.
"He was always fair, always reasonable, and always listened first," said Tim Farkas, the newspaper's executive editor since 2004. "Everyone in the building had a great deal of respect for him."
Eagle Controller Francis J. McKenna, who came to Pittsfield the same year as Farkas, said he always admired Mick's composure.
"He was very calm," McKenna said. "He didn't let things get to him. He tried to keep everybody else calm. He got along with everybody."
Before coming to Pittsfield, Mick served as publisher of MediaNews Group newspapers in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Before joining MediaNews, he served as the advertising director of the Tuscaloosa News in Alabama after spending more than 15 years working at various papers in the South that belonged to the New York Times Co.
"At first I was just looking for a job," Mick said. "I never anticipated that this was going to be a lifetime career. But one thing led to another, I learned my lessons pretty well, I made a decent living at it, and it came together well for me."
During his tenure at The Eagle, Mick said he tried to maintain the newspaper's long-standing status as a significant voice in the community, and he tried to keep the paper both "business- and community-friendly." He said he is proud of the role The Eagle played in supporting the revitalization of downtown Pittsfield.
"We supported it and we advocated for it," he said. "We questioned things along the way where it was appropriate, but I think we were a doggone good corporate citizen in that effort."
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