CEO of Legal News to lead Michigan Press Association

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

As a student of history, particularly as it pertains to the importance of the First Amendment in everyday life, Brad Thompson is fond of a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation’s Founding Fathers and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.

Though regularly vilified by newspapers, the nation’s third president still stated: “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.”

For Thompson, the new president of the Michigan Press Association, the Jeffersonian message continues to ring clear more than two centuries later.

“The Michigan Press Association has assisted local newspapers in Michigan deliver critical and unbiased information to our readers for 150 years,” said Thompson, who is the president and CEO of Detroit Legal News Publishing. “The role has become more important than ever as newspapers have come under assault from alternative information sources, unedited social media feeds, etc. Our society to survive has to have access to fair and accurate reporting, and that’s what our local community newspapers have done for so many years.”

A native of Ann Arbor, the 64-year-old Thompson is the fifth generation of his family to lead the publicly traded company, which publishes 10 newspapers in Michigan and operates Inland Press, the largest commercial printing company in Detroit. He is a product of Eastern Michigan University, where he majored in business management and computer science. He also completed the Executive Development Program at the University of Michigan Business School.

Thompson began his career with The Detroit Legal News in 1984 after spending 5 years with Burroughs Corp. as a system analyst. In 1991, after working in a variety of roles with the company, Thompson was named publisher. Four years later, he was named president and CEO of the company, becoming its chairman in 2004.

“I am honored and humbled to be able to lead the Michigan Press Association as it celebrates its 150th anniversary,” said Thompson, who currently resides in Ann Arbor with his wife Karen. “The Association continues to fight every day for an informed public. Whether it is improving FOIA laws, ensuring public notices don’t get hidden in a black hole on the Internet, or providing scholarships to budding young journalists in our state, MPA has a very important role to play.

“I am focused on improving the Association’s financial strength so it can continue these functions,” Thompson added. “I also will work to provide greater transparency at all levels of government. We’ll do this by bringing public notice, FOIA, and Open Meetings legislation into the 21st century. Equally important is to ensure that our local newspapers survive and even thrive to provide the critical local news coverage that only they can do. We need to continually demonstrate our value to our communities.”

Thompson, the father of three grown sons, has demonstrated a strong sense of volunteerism throughout his publishing career, formerly serving as chairman of the Printing Industries of Michigan and the Printing Industries of America. In addition, he is a past president of the American Court and Commercial Newspaper Association and currently serves as president of the Public Notice Resource Center in Washington, D.C. He is a director of the National Newspaper Association, a 2,200-member organization that is the largest of its kind in the U.S., while also serving as chairman of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan.

“As the fifth generation of my family to be involved with The Legal News and with ink in my veins, I feel a very strong responsibility to give back to the newspaper industry in Michigan that has done so much good for all of us as citizens of this great state,” said Thompson.

Thompson succeeds Doug Caldwell, publisher of The Petoskey News Review, as president of the MPA, a Lansing-based trade organization that was established in 1868 and counts more than 320 members.


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