Belinda Mills, a publishing veteran who has worked at newspapers across the Southwest, has been named publisher of the Eastern Arizona Courier and Copper Era.
“With a wonderful track record of successful publishing and serving local communities, Belinda brings a beautiful cross section of passion for local journalism and the Southwest,” said Francis Wick, CEO and president of Wick Communications, which owns both papers.
Wick is excited to watch the papers continue to flourish under Mills’ leadership, he said.
“For generations, the Eastern Arizona Courier and Copper Era have supported local businesses and kept the community informed with award-winning local news,” he said. “With Belinda at the helm, our commitment to serving the Gila Valley will continue for years to come.”
Mills grew up on a farm in rural Texas, and it was there that she first fell in love with journalism.
“I became an avid reader when I was very young because I lived far away from anything to do,” she said with a laugh. “I fell in love with the written word when I was kid. I wrote my first newspaper article in the fifth grade; I was a reporter for our 4H club.”
Her professional life began in the newsroom — reporting, taking photos and working in the dark room. When she was in her mid-20s, she became the editor of a small weekly paper in central Texas.
Eventually she moved to the advertising side of the business and rose through the ranks, building experience in both print and digital media.
Mills has held leadership positions in New Mexico, California and Texas. Her most recent role before coming to the Gila Valley was director of sales for the Hearst Corporation in Beaumont, Texas.
“I have a real passion for the purpose of newspapers,” she said. “I think what we do is very important — we are the fourth estate, we are the watch dogs. We are here to protect people’s freedom.”
She’s worked for organizations big and small, but the connectivity of a small town is what keeps her coming to work every day.
“I love the community feel — I think people here really care about each other,” she said of Graham and Greenlee counties. “I’m looking forward to meeting the community and becoming a part of it.”
Mills lived in Silver City, New Mexico, for several years, so she visited the area long before moving here.
“I’ve really missed the mountain scenery. I really love walking outside and seeing the mountains and I love being in the midst of an agricultural area,” she said. “I grew up around agriculture and animals. I was a 4H kid and showed livestock through my entire youth.”
Mills’ son, Cameron, also lives in Safford. Joining her here are her two dogs, Bailey and Jasper.
Over the next few months, she plans to attend events, meet with community stakeholders and connect with Courier and Copper Era readers. It’s that community commitment that makes her a perfect person to lead the papers, Group Publisher Dru Sanchez said.
“Belinda brings with her a wealth of experience. I look forward to her involvement in the community, partnerships she will build, and her overall ideas on how to continue to support Safford and the surrounding communities,” she said.
Wick Communications is a family-owned community media company with newspapers, websites, magazines and specialty publications in 10 states. The home office is in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and Wick publishes newspapers in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington.
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