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Trib Total Media Chairman Gutnick to retire

| Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, 11:20 p.m.
H. Yale Gutnick, longtime friend and attorney to the Tribune-Review’s late publisher, Dick Scaife, has announced his retirement as board chairman of Trib Total Media.
James M. Kubus | Tribune-Review
Former President Bill Clinton and H. Yale Gutnick, chairman of the Trib Total Media board of directors, talk in 2014 at a memorial service for Dick Scaife on the grounds of Scaife's childhood home in Ligonier.

H. Yale Gutnick, longtime friend and attorney to the Tribune-Review's late publisher, Dick Scaife, has announced his retirement as board chairman of Trib Total Media.

Gutnick, 73, will remain involved with the company as honorary chairman, a member of two of its related boards and an adviser on special news projects, including the company's expanded role with Point Park University's journalism program.

Jennifer Bertetto, company president and chief executive officer, will succeed him as board chairman.

“When Dick Scaife died in 2014, I stepped into his role as board chairman,” Gutnick said. “My first goal was to maintain my good friend's newspaper legacy.

“But an equally important goal was to help guide his company in a new direction that reflects the changing realities of today's news media and moves us aggressively into the evolving digital formats that represent the future.

“Now that we have achieved the first stage of that transformation and are working diligently on others, I think it's time to turn over the newspapers' operations to the individuals who run those day-to-day. Naturally, I will always remain available to assist in any way that I can.”

The company began its transformation in 2015 by merging its daily newspapers into three regional editions, selling or closing several of its smaller daily and weekly editions, and taking other steps to reduce costs and refocus operations.

“We needed to make those tough choices in order to better position ourselves for the future and to create a profitable operation,” Gutnick said.

“This is an extraordinarily challenging time for newspapers, for broadcast operations and other media companies, large and small, all across the country.

“That's why we are acting now — to ensure that we are stronger for the future and able to adapt faster to changing business models, technologies and reader expectations.”

He said those and other steps “will help to maintain Mr. Scaife's dream of creating a first-class newspaper for our readers, our communities and our nation, long into the future.”

“I feel incredibly proud to have played a key role in preserving that dream,” he said. “But I also feel incredibly lucky to have such an opportunity.

“Over the years, and especially in the past 19 months as chairman, I've seen what an invaluable public asset our newspapers are ... what an amazing team of dedicated journalists have come together through Mr. Scaife's vision and support.

“I want his commitment — and theirs — to great journalism to continue for many years.”

He said he will remain an adviser on news projects.

As an attorney and as Scaife's trusted confidante, Gutnick has worked closely with Trib editors and reporters on the newspapers' most significant and award-winning investigative projects, such as the weeklong series in 2015 that examined security issues along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“News has always been my primary interest, as it was for Dick Scaife,” he said. “Stepping away from the chairmanship will enable me to devote time to those news projects.”

He also will remain the company's chief liaison with Point Park University in its partnership with the Trib for an expanded journalism program, a project he initiated in 2015. The venture — which includes Allegheny Foundation support for a $2.5 million, state-of-the-art Center for Media Innovation at Wood Street and Third Avenue, Downtown — will bring more Point Park student interns into Trib newsrooms and greater involvement by Trib reporters and editors in the university's journalism classes.

Bertetto said Gutnick helped to make “the very painful, difficult decisions required in our transformation.”

“He's been a very public figure for the company, someone respected by leaders in business, government, politics, and the legal community,” she said. “His experience and reputation have helped to make the Tribune-Review what it is today and to position us for the future.”

“Yale is a familiar and an admired figure to many reporters and editors in our newsrooms,” said Trib editor Frank Craig. “He's helped to improve many of our major investigative projects, from the factual details and accuracy to the flow of the words. We look forward to his continued advice on important stories.”

A Philadelphia native, Gutnick has been a senior shareholder in the Downtown law firm of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick and Gefsky and its predecessor firm since 1978. He began his legal career with the Department of Justice in Washington in 1967.

He became Scaife's attorney in 1980, a relationship that soon evolved into a close friendship and Gutnick's involvement in the newspapers' growth and operations.

The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania gave him its President's Award in 2014, in recognition of his long-standing support for First Amendment rights and other free-press issues in the courts.

His daughter, Laura, is an attorney and member of the executive committee of the same Downtown law firm. His son, Todd, began his professional career as a Tribune-Review reporter and is now director of marketing and communications for the Anti-Defamation League in New York City.

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