Donald Bailey’s career has come full circle.
The veteran newspaper executive, who began his newspaper career in 1984 as an advertising intern at The Telegraph, was named president and publisher of the newspaper Monday.
“When I left here ... one of my dreams was one day to be able to come back home, and Macon is my home,” Bailey said.
The Middle Georgia native has been president and publisher of The Times in Shreveport, La., since January 2012. He was president of The Augusta Chronicle from 2004 until 2011.
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“We had the time to look for the very best person,” said Mark Zieman, vice president of operations for McClatchy Co., the newspaper’s parent company. “There is a lot going on in this community, and we wanted somebody who could appreciate and celebrate those differences,” Zieman said Monday morning as he introduced Bailey to The Telegraph staff.
Bailey, 51, is set to begin work in Macon on April 8. He replaces George McCanless, who left the newspaper in January.
The search committee considered applicants from inside and outside McClatchy, said Zieman, who oversees McClatchy’s newspapers in the South. The Shreveport newspaper is owned by Gannett Co. Inc.
“I have worked in several Southern cities,” Bailey said. “Every city has its own flavor, and a lot of people can point out every negative thing possible about a community. ... It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity. ... Journalism at its best will help every community.”
Bailey, who drove around Macon on Sunday, said he noticed “a lot of great things going on in this community. So I’m excited about it, and I’m excited to be part of your team.”
Bailey mentioned he was a huge University of Georgia Bulldogs fan, and he sported a necktie with the mascot featured between red and black stripes.
Bailey spent eight years at The Telegraph, rising to sales and marketing manager. He moved to The Augusta Chronicle in 1992 as classified advertising manager. He left to work for the Savannah Morning News in 1996 as the director of sales and marketing and rejoined The Augusta Chronicle in 2002 as general manager.
Two years later, he was appointed president.
“It’s hard to imagine a more perfect fit,” McClatchy President and CEO Pat Talamantes said in a news release. “Don has overseen the transition from print-oriented news and sales operations to digital publishing at two daily newspapers. And now he marries that invaluable experience with his knowledge of The Telegraph and his deep affection for the community.”
Bailey was born in Thomaston and moved to Macon in his early teens. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in business administration from what is now Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville. His wife, Chelle, graduated from Mercer University in Macon.
“Don is a talented publisher. He’s smart, energetic and creative,” Zieman said in the release. “We’re delighted to welcome Don back to The Telegraph as the leader of Macon’s premiere multimedia company.”
Bailey has been active in the Shreveport and Augusta communities, serving on a variety of charitable, nonprofit and civic boards.
Bailey and his wife have three children, two of whom were born in Macon. One of his sons attends UGA, and his daughter attends Georgia College.
“We are not just returning to Macon or The Telegraph. Chelle and I see this as coming home to where our lives began together,” Bailey said. “I’m excited about rekindling some of the old relationships, but even more excited about continuing the great tradition of The Telegraph as it serves Macon, Warner Robins and the surrounding communities on the various print and digital platforms every day.”
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.