Dena Sattler, southwest Kansas group publisher for GateHouse Media, announced Tuesday her planned departure from the post.
Publisher of The Garden City Telegram since 2004, Sattler earlier this year was named a group publisher for GateHouse Media. In the role, she also was publisher of the Dodge City Daily Globe, The Pratt Tribune, Kiowa County Signal and St. John News.
“The opportunity to be a group publisher was a dream come true, as I dearly love community newspapers and have so much respect for the people at every paper who do the tireless work of keeping readers informed,” Sattler said.
The 55-year-old has logged 33 years at daily newspapers, starting her career at The Hawk Eye in her hometown of Burlington, Iowa, as a summer intern in the newsroom. She went on to fill a variety of reporting and editing roles before moving to Kansas in 1998 for a management training program with Harris Enterprises. Her training included work in all phases of newspaper operations at The Telegram, The Hutchinson News and The Ottawa Herald before she returned to Garden City for a brief stint as advertising-marketing director. She was promoted to editor-publisher of The Telegram in 2004.
Papers in Kansas and Iowa operated by Harris Enterprises were purchased by GateHouse Media in late 2016.
“My goal as a young journalist was 30 years in the business and 10 as a publisher,” Sattler said. “I’m now at 33 and 14 years respectively, so I’m past those milestones.”
Sattler said a desire to spend more time with husband, Ed, and family in Iowa was the main factor for her decision to step down as publisher.
“Family has to come first,” Sattler said. “While Ed and I plan to remain in Kansas, I’ll have much more flexibility in being able to travel back to Iowa and spend more quality time with my mother and the rest of my family.”
Sattler’s last day as group publisher is Friday, but she will continue writing commentary for GateHouse Media papers. She has won several state and national honors for editorial writing, including first-place awards this past year in Inland Press Association and National Newspaper Association competitions. She also recently was named a GateHouse Media Editorial Writer of the Year. GateHouse serves more than 600 markets nationwide.
“Dena has been a tremendous contributor to Kansas community journalism, and I am proud to call her a respected colleague. I'm happy that we get to keep her voice on our op/ed pages,” Stephen Wade, senior group publisher for GateHouse Media in Kansas, said. “It is a loss for The Telegram and our company, but I am very happy that she and Ed are able to spend time with her family.”
Wade said the company would begin to explore leadership options for The Telegram in the coming days.
“On behalf of GateHouse Media, I would like to express our appreciation for the overall community engagement and quality journalism provided under Dena's guidance,” Grady Singletary, regional vice president for GateHouse Media, said. “On a personal note, Dena also provided a level of caring for her team that is well recognized across our group of properties in Kansas. We wish her the best and will miss her leadership.”
On Sattler’s watch, The Telegram collected a string of Kansas Press Association Sweepstakes news and advertising awards for top medium-sized newspaper in the state.
“I’ve had the great honor to work with first-class journalists and newspaper staff throughout my career,” she said.
Sattler said newspapers, while challenged by economic and political pressures, will push forward with the same mission of being a government watchdog and leading information source.
“Newspaper print-digital readership is at an all-time high,” Sattler said. “That’s significant. It will be interesting to see how future generations of newspaper leaders help our papers evolve in serving our readers and advertisers."
Sattler is a past president of the Kansas Press Association board of directors, and currently serves as the board’s legislative director. In 2009, she received the state press association's Boyd Award for Community Service for The Telegram’s part in raising awareness of issues at the local animal shelter, and her editorials calling for a new shelter that currently serves the community.
She’s also a trustee for the Kansas Newspaper Foundation and the William Allen White Foundation at the University of Kansas. Locally, Sattler has been a board member for the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce, Garden City Downtown Vision, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney and Kearny Counties and the Finney County Humane Society.
A graduate of the University of Iowa, Sattler is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve and Iowa National Guard, with service during the First Gulf War.