Half Moon Bay Review Publisher Debra Hershon, who has led the newspaper for 15 years, told staff Monday she will retire at the end of the year. She said she intends to spend the next several weeks helping the newspaper transition into new leadership.
Hershon began her career at the Review when she was hired as an advertising representative in 1991. She was quickly promoted to advertising manager and became publisher — responsible for all aspects of newspaper operations — in 1996. She is a recognized leader in the industry and sits on the board of directors of the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
Hershon has lived on the Coastside for many years. In a column in today’s newspaper (Page 4A), Hershon noted that her children grew to adulthood on the Coastside. She is the proud grandmother of one.
“While I consider them to be the greatest accomplishment in my life, it has also been a privilege and an honor to be the publisher of this newspaper for the last two decades,” she writes in the column. “The time has come, however, for me to move on as well.”
Hershon says she plans to travel in the new year — including a long visit to family in India. She will live in Marin County, closer to her husband’s work. Husband Marc Hershon is a renowned branding expert and says he plans to continue to produce the Review’s editorial cartoons.
The newspaper has thrived throughout Debra Hershon’s tenure. The Review has published for 113 years, at no time evolving any more quickly than during her years at the helm. She oversaw the change from film to digital photo reproduction and the advent of Web publishing, which changed the newspaper from a single weekly deadline to a 24-hour news-gathering operation. In 2009, she spearheaded the overhaul of Review offices on Kelly Avenue, bringing business and editorial functions under a single roof.
The Review has won dozens of awards from the CNPA during Hershon’s years as publisher, some years winning more than any other newspaper in the state. In 2006, it was named the best small weekly newspaper in the country by the Inland Press Foundation. The newspaper is owned by Wick Communications, publisher of 31 community newspapers across the country.
“Deb Hershon has been instrumental in the development of the Half Moon Bay Review, and served her community well over the years,” said Wick Communications Chief Executive Officer John Mathew in an email.
Hershon’s fingerprints can be seen in all aspects of the newspaper’s management. She writes occasional columns, both print and online, and often proofreads pages before they go to the printer. She is a hands-on advertising leader, making sales calls, managing the budget and planning revenue initiatives. Hershon sometimes delivers the newspaper, fills in for the production team, represents the paper at community functions and participates on the newspaper’s editorial board.
She has also been active in civic causes, including stints on a city of Half Moon Bay economic development committee and the board of Senior Coastisders, which she served for eight years.
“I learned so much from her about relationships and the importance of sharing the story of Senior Coastsiders and our seniors,” said Cara Schmaljohn, executive director of Senior Coastsiders. “She truly loved the work she was doing and this town and that was evident in everything she did.
“It is hard for me to think about Half Moon Bay without Deb at the helm of the newspaper,” Schmaljohn said.