Journal Sentinel publisher to retire

Brenner served in leadership role for more than a decade

Journal Media Group
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offices and former Journal Media Group headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Brenner, the president and publisher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who led the newspaper for more than a decade, plans to retire on June 30, the paper reported this afternoon.

Journal Media Group
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offices and former Journal Media Group headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.

Brenner, 61, transitioned into the role of vice president and regional publisher at Journal Media Group when the company was formed in April 2015 through the merger of Journal Communications Inc. and The E.W. Scripps Co. She leads national advertising, digital revenue sales and operations for the company’s 14 newspapers and also leads publishing for the Wisconsin region.

Last month, Journal Media Group was acquired by McLean, Va.-based media titan Gannett Co. Inc. for $280 million. The integration of the two media companies is underway, though it is not clear whether Brenner’s departure is related. The newspaper’s report cited health concerns as a factor, as Brenner is being treated for cancer.

A 39-year veteran of the newspaper industry, Brenner started her career as a business news reporter and columnist at The Chicago Tribune in 1977. She has worked in leadership roles at prominent publications around the country, including The New York Times, The Miami Herald and The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington.

Brenner served as president and publisher of the Journal Sentinel from January 2005 to March 2015. She was named chief operating officer of the Publishing division and executive vice president of its parent company, Journal Communications, in 2006. During her time in the roles, the Journal Sentinel earned three Pulitzer Prizes and Journal Communications was able to maintain consistent quarterly profitability despite the industry’s struggles and the impact of the Great Recession.

She is involved in the Milwaukee nonprofit community, and has served on the board of trustees at the Medical College of Wisconsin, board of directors at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, board of directors at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and the board of directors of ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. Brenner also has co-chaired the United Way Teen Pregnancy Prevention Oversight Committee and represented Midwestern newspapers on the board of the Associated Press.

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.