Media mogul Steven Swartz discusses the state of journalism and what drew him to Sarasota




Warm weather and world-famous beaches have made Sarasota a destination for influential showbiz and political figures and, most recently, Steven Swartz, president and CEO of the publishing company Hearst.

If you haven’t heard the name, you will recognize the wallet. The software and media giant is one of the largest magazine publishers in the world, with titles like Cosmopolitan, Bazaar and Squireas well as 76 newspapers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst also owns cable television networks A&E, History, Lifetime and ESPN, and has interests in medical information and services companies, and provides software for managing jets and helicopters. Last year, according to ForbesHearst’s annual revenues reached $11.5 billion.

That same year, Swartz, 60, bought a $5.7 million condo on Longboat Key with his wife, Tina, and now splits his time between the waterfront and New York City, where Hearst is headquartered.

We caught up with the mogul to talk about Longboat Key, the future of media and (why not?) carrot cake:

How long have you been in the media?

“Since 1984, when I graduated from Harvard and joined the the wall street journal as a journalist.”

What drew you to Sarasota?

“We had been coming to the area for about 20 years. Friends of ours bought a house in South Sarasota and we had fond memories of bringing our kids to Siesta Key. the area, the natural beauty, and the cool modernism of downtown Sarasota. It seemed like a very welcoming, friendly, and relaxed environment. When we became empty nests, we were looking to play golf and have our kids visit us in a place they loved and naturally we turned to Sarasota.Our main residence is still in New York, but we come down as often as we can.

Do you think newspapers and magazines will be there for the next generation of readers?

“We are very optimistic about the magazine and newspaper industry. Obviously both have seen a lot of changes. Every publication has to find the right frequency – some are quarterly, some are monthly. is more digital now and it is important that publications of all advancements have deep digital relationships and have different ways of generating revenue, through e-commerce, advertisements and subscriptions.Magazines and newspapers are sources reliable information and can lead readers to find quality products and services and I think that can be a good thing for them. The future must be a mix of revenue streams and a mix of print and digital products and I am convinced that the media can execute this.

How has the pandemic affected Hearst’s publications portfolio?

“2020 has been a tough year for the publishing side. But about half of our business is now B2B [business-to-business] data and software and other interests such as Fitch Group. [Editor’s note: Fitch is a global ​​financial information services company Hearst owns.] We also have healthcare, aviation, and transportation businesses. The B2B side has remained strong throughout the pandemic. For the media part, when you think back to that time, we couldn’t get out a lot and our advertising businesses were affected, but they all came back very strong in 2021, leading to record results and a great start in 2022. recovery has caught up with us.”

What do you think are the main problems facing journalists today?

“I think the public has legitimate questions about bias coming largely from cable news networks that have taken strong political positions. I think the vast majority of people want to be sure that organizations are credible and address news from a factual angle and that’s exactly what we do with our print and television news.

“I think it’s more difficult for journalists today, but it’s also exciting. For example, they have so many tools to do data journalism and search so many databases in a way that we couldn’t do at the time. The Wall Street Journal, we just didn’t have access to those tools. I think there are still great careers to be had working for magazines and newspapers, but I understand that some journalists go out on their own and build their own brand and their own digital channels and blogs or subscriptions. I think there are many paths they can take.”

Many national outlets are thriving, but many local and regional publications are not. How can they bounce back?

“We believe there will always be a place for strong local news.

“We have over 20 newspapers across the country and they also had a rebound year in 2021. The business has gotten tougher, but we continue to invest in journalism because it’s important and we’re doing very well. well with digital subscriptions. We believe our local newspapers will remain strong. We are also a big supporter of local TV news. We have 33 stations across the country.

Should journalists tweet as much and become, in essence, brands?

“I think they have to be very careful. There’s nothing wrong with using social media platforms, but I think what people crave is journalists giving people the facts. I think a lot of bias and opinions seep into social media and they need to be careful unless they are opinionated journalists It’s best to just tell people about the edited and verified story they wish to share. The public’s perception of bias can harm their credibility and journalists should keep this in mind.”

Have you been to the Haye Loft at Euphemia Haye?

“Yes, I loved the carrot cake.”

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