Mark Jurkowitz leaves Pew Research Center and buys a weekly newspaper

Mark Jurkowitz spent years documenting the decline of newspapers while at the Pew Research Center. He recently left his associate director position and … bought a newspaper.

“The weekly newspaper idea has long been a dream of mine,” the new owner of the Outer Banks Sentinel in Nags Head, NC, tells Romenesko readers. “I started my career 35 years ago at the Brookline/Newton Tab. And the Outer Banks, well it’s nice to be somehwere where people wear shorts and smile a lot.”

The 6,000-circulation paper has four full-time employees and three part-time, not including Jurkowitz and his wife. “I’ll be there full-time and she will be there part time. The focus is on print at this point and the community also supports another print-only publication. But we’ll be making our digital presence more robust over time.”

The press release is after the jump.

Press release
Greensboro’s Womack Newspapers, Inc. announces sale of Outer Banks Sentinel

Charles A. Womack III, President of Womack Newspaper’s Inc., announced that veteran journalist Mark Jurkowitz, has purchased the Outer Banks Sentinel, Nag’s Head, NC, from his company in a deal announced earlier today. Jurkowitz, recently stepped down as the Associate Director of the Journalism Project at the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC.

The Outer Banks Sentinel is a paid-circulation broadsheet weekly published every Wednesday. It is distributed throughout North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a top vacation/historic destination.

Jurkowitz explained, “This is the culmination of a longstanding dream. I got my start in journalism more than three decades ago at a community weekly and in this shifting news landscape, the one constant is the need for robust local coverage. The Outer Banks is a wonderful community and the Sentinel will continue to serve it with the journalism it deserves.”

A long-time press writer, Jurkowitz spent 10 years at the Boston Globe, first as the paper’s ombudsman and then as its first full-time media beat reporter. Moving to Pew Research, he became a familiar speaker at media industry seminars, regularly briefing foreign reporters in the U.S. sponsored by the International Center for Journalists and had discussed the project’s work on programs such as the PBS NewsHour, CNN’s Reliable Sources and On the Media from public radio station WNYC. He has authored studies on presidential campaign coverage and the newspaper industry’s search for new business models and was the lead writer of the News Index Reports, which quantified and analyzed the news agenda of the mainstream media.

He will be joined at the Sentinel by his wife Linda, a noted graphic artist for Education Week magazine.

Womack Newspapers, Inc. headquartered in Greensboro NC includes several newspaper and specialty publications in Guilford and Dare Counties. The company is owned by Charles A. Womack III and includes YES! Weekly (Greensboro, Winston-Salem-High Point, NC, the Jamestown (NC) News and the Adams Farm Gazette. Last week the company announced a major expansion into the Charlotte market with the acquisition of Creative Loafing Charlotte.

WNI is also part of Womack Publishing Co, based in Chatham, Va. Womack Publishing Company is a privately-held, family-owned, media company of newspapers, telephone directories, speciality publications and Internet-based businesses. Womack Publishing Co. operates 15 newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina.