This week, the Half Moon Bay Review welcomes a new publisher who is an old friend of the newspaper. It must also say goodbye to a longtime employee who became publisher at a crucial time in the newspaper’s history.
Barbara Anderson is retiring from the newspaper this year after two years as publisher and another decade of financial management. Debra Hershon, meanwhile, returns to the newspaper she led for nearly two decades.
“We have been very lucky to have Barb Anderson steering the ship in the early formative days of local control of the Review,” said Rich Klein, CEO of the Coastside News Group, which owns the Half Moon Bay Review. “In her last months she turbocharged our efforts to rapidly respond to the pandemic, support the fire response efforts, and finish replacing all our inherited and antique software with state-of-the-art new systems. She is always action-oriented, always looking out for employees, partners, and the community, and always open about her feelings. We will miss her greatly.”
Anderson began in 2007 as the newspaper’s business manager and was promoted to publisher in 2018 after local residents formed the Coastside News Group and bought the 120-year-old news organization from Arizona-based Wick Communications Inc.
A Coastside native, Anderson earned plaudits within the company for her business acumen during the ownership transition. Her most notable contributions to the organization were often unseen by readers. They included bringing a new customer relationship management software platform to the Review, helping to vet insurance providers and moving employee records onto the cloud. She was also the mastermind behind a new emergency management guide that connects readers with the myriad agencies that might be needed in a disaster. She is well-known throughout the community and often served as a liaison between new employees and long-time Coastsiders.
“Working at the Review has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” Anderson said. “I’m so appreciative of the people I have been so fortunate to work with over the years. I will miss them.
“One of the most difficult aspects of my departure will be leaving the phenomenal staff here at the Review. I know that the future of our paper is very bright with the return of Deb Hershon as publisher and Clay’s continued leadership on the editorial side of the house.”
Hershon started at the Review in 1991 and was advertising director before being promoted to publisher in 1995, serving as the newspaper’s top executive until 2012. Since then she has served in executive positions at Marin Magazine and Make it Better Media Group, first as associate publisher then as director of marketing.
Hershon has a long history on the Coastside. A former El Granada resident who raised her children on the coast, Hershon was at the helm of the Review during the initial transition toward its digital future. She pioneered the news organization’s website, was a frequent contributor to the Review’s magazine and opinion pages, and she oversaw an expansive renovation of the newspaper’s Kelly Street building in 2009.
“Deb’s enthusiasm is infectious, her energy level is through the roof, and her knowledge of the Coastside is rare,” Klein said. “As we move to the next stage of this project to support local journalism, Deb’s marketing expertise will be invaluable. She understands the importance of online news. She appreciates the importance of maintaining editorial independence.”
Hershon brings a laundry list of marketing and digital skills to bear in her new position. In her most recent position, she took charge of audience development and event marketing as well as creating philanthropic nonprofit partnerships.
“It’s exciting to be coming back to a town and newspaper that are both near and dear to my heart,” Hershon said. “It will be great to work with Clay Lambert again, and Barb Anderson has done some really heavy lifting setting up new software and adding to the staff which will make the transition much smoother.
“I’m lucky to be able to spend some time working with her before she leaves,” she said.