SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI) announced today that Valerie Bender has been named president and publisher of the Merced Sun-Star in California along with its affiliated community newspapers, effective Feb. 24.
Bender, 58, is the vice president of custom publications and community affairs at The Fresno Bee and a member of the paper's senior management team. At the Merced Sun-Star, she replaces Jason Cross, who left the paper earlier this month. Bender will relocate to Merced, but continue her oversight of custom publications for McClatchy's California newspapers. She will report to Cheryl Dell, publisher and president of The Sacramento Bee.
"Val is an experienced leader and a creative executive who brings a strong background in journalism and community affairs," said Bob Weil, McClatchy vice president, operations, who oversees McClatchy's California newspapers. "She has a deep understanding of and passion for the Central Valley. She'll be a great fit in Merced."
Bender joined McClatchy in 1996 as a features editor at The Fresno Bee and was promoted to assistant managing editor two years later. In 2003, she was named vice president for custom publications, a role that grew to include acting as publisher for The Clovis Independent, a community newspaper, Vida en el Valle, McClatchys award-winning bilingual newspaper now published in five Central Valley markets, and Central Valley, a glossy monthly lifestyle magazine launched in 2012.
"I am extremely excited about joining the Merced Sun-Star, a newspaper that has the potential to continue to grow with the community it serves," Bender said. "I'm particularly excited about joining a staff that cares so much about the community and works so diligently to inform, engage and delight its print and digital readership, not only in Merced but also at its weekly newspapers."
Before joining McClatchy in 1996, Bender was managing editor for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida.
Bender is a native of Houston, Texas, but grew up in Miami. She and her husband, Andrew, have an adult daughter, Lauren.
The McClatchy Company is a leading news and information provider, offering a wide array of print and digital products in each of the markets it serves. McClatchys operations include 30 daily newspapers, community newspapers, websites, mobile news and advertising, niche publications, direct marketing and direct mail services. The companys largest newspapers include the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram, The Sacramento Bee, The Kansas City Star, the Miami Herald, The Charlotte Observer and The (Raleigh) News & Observer. McClatchy is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MNI.