Mark A. Stevens has been named Publisher of the Elizabethton STAR effective Aug. 27. Current Publisher Nathan Goodwin will step into the role of President and Chairman of Elizabethton Newspapers, Inc.
“We are thrilled to have Mark join us at the STAR. He’s the best at what he does and I think the people of Carter County will soon realize that,” Goodwin said. “Even better, he’s from here.”
Stevens has spent nearly half his life in the newspaper business. The Carter County native has worked for award-winning weekly and daily newspapers in Tennessee and Louisiana.
He said his return to Tennessee as publisher of the Elizabethton STAR, his hometown newspaper, is a “dream come true.”
“I am honored that Nathan and the board of directors asked me to oversee a great newspaper with such a long and vital history in Carter County,” Stevens said. “I am passionate about newspapers and the important role they continue to play in our everyday lives. To be publisher of the STAR isn’t simply a job for me; it’s a most-welcome homecoming.”
After earning a degree in communications from East Tennessee State University in 1991, Stevens worked as a lifestyles writer for the Johnson City Press. In 1995, he was promoted to lifestyles editor, and, in 1997, the owners of the company asked Stevens to take over the management of Unicoi County’s weekly newspaper, The Erwin Record.
At the Record, he oversaw the financial rebirth of the newspaper and managed a $250,000 renovation of the newspaper’s complex in historic downtown Erwin.
As the Record’s publisher, Stevens’ 13-year tenure coincided with the newspaper’s most successful years since it was formed in 1928. Under his leadership, The Erwin Record won nearly 400 awards for excellence in journalism, advertising and history preservation.
Most impressively, the newspaper made history by winning the Tennessee Press Association’s coveted Sweepstakes/General Excellence Award for nine consecutive years (2003-2011) – a feat not matched by any other Tennessee newspaper.
In 2009, the newspaper won second place in Inland Press Association’s Nation’s Best Non-Daily Newspaper competition.
Personally, Stevens has won first-place state and regional awards for his news reporting and editorials, as well as his personal humor column. He is a two-time recipient of the Edward J. Meeman Award and a two-time recipient of the John P. Pitman Prize for Excellence in Journalism.
In 2004, Washington, D.C. based Presstime Magazine named Stevens one of the nation’s up-and-coming newspaper executives in its annual 20 Under 40 honors.
In 2009, he was inducted into ETSU’s Department of Communications Hall of Fame.
Since April 2011, he has been employed by Gannett Co. Inc., one of the world’s largest media companies with more than 35,000 employees.
He first served as online editor for Gannett’s south Louisiana publications, The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, the Daily World of Opelousas and The Times of Acadiana.
After serving as online editor, he was promoted to community outreach editor.
While Stevens was part of the newspaper’s editorial management team, The Advertiser was named “Newspaper of the Year” by the Louisiana Press Association.
In addition to his work with newspapers, Stevens is also the author of two books – “Unicoi County: Then & Now,” a pictorial history book released in 2008 by Charleston, S.C.-based Arcadia Publishing; and “Welcome to Erwin … Where the Mayor’s Name is Bubba and Main Street’s a Dead End,” a collection of his personal columns from 1997-2011.
Stevens also served as editor of three books, “An Apple A Day: 365 Apple-Tizing Recipes,” an award-winning cookbook published in 2002; Ray Knapp’s “Legends, Lies & Other Tales: Stories From Flag Pond & The Mountains of Northeast Tennessee,” published in 2011; and “Charging the Dome: Ragin’ Cajuns Bring It Home,” a book chronicling the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s bowl-winning football season, printed in 2012 by Piedmont Publishing.
He is a former chairman of the board and president of the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce; a former Rotary Club president; and a former member of the Kiwanis Club.
Stevens has also served on the boards of directors for the United Way, Habitat for Humanity and the Harmon and Mary Monroe Foundation.
Stevens is also a former president of the Society of Professional Journalists, Greater Tri-Cities Chapter, and the American Advertising Federation of Northeast Tennessee.
In 2010, he was named the recipient of the Walter B. Garland Historical Preservation Award.
Since 1995, Stevens has been married to the former Amy Dickeson, who he met while both were studying journalism at ETSU in the late 1980s. His wife is vice president of marketing and communications with LHC Group Inc., a national, publicly traded company.
Goodwin becomes President and Chairman of Elizabethton Newspapers, Inc. after serving as Publisher of the STAR since 2008. “Mark will now manage the day to day operation of the newspaper. In my new role as President and Chairman I will oversee the corporation as a whole, but will be less involved on a daily basis. This will allow me the opportunity to pursue other interests as well.”
Stevens officially begins Monday, Aug. 27. “I’ve known Mark for several years and always thought this is where he needed to be,” Goodwin said. “He loves this community and this newspaper. We are excited to welcome him home.”
His parents, Amos and Peggy Stevens, live in Hampton. His brother, Bryan, is employed as assistant editor and editor of the Living Local section of the Elizabethton Star.