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Executive Appointments Announced in Piedmont Newspaper Group

ARLINGTON, Va. — Two executive appointments were announced today in the Piedmont Newspaper Group.

— Virgil L. Smith becomes president and publisher of The Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times. He formerly was assistant to the senior group president of the Pacific Newspaper Group.

— James B. (Jay) Banks becomes assistant to the senior group president of the Piedmont Newspaper Group. He formerly was president and publisher in Asheville.

The appointments, which are effective March 11, followed a request by Banks for a change in assignment, said Bern Mebane, senior group president of the Piedmont Group.

“Jay Banks has made long-term contributions to our newspapers and the community in Asheville,” Mebane said. “He always has demonstrated a commitment to community journalism and successful newspaper operations. I’m glad he will be available to assist me.”

Banks said the assignment change is “best for me and my family at this stage of my career. I’m very happy that Gannett has purchased the Citizen-Times and believe strongly our community, employees and customers will benefit from Gannett’s ownership.”

In making the announcement, Mebane said Smith “is a seasoned publisher with an outstanding record. We’re fortunate to have someone of Virgil’s talents and experience to continue the progress at the Citizen-Times.”

Smith, 45, joined Gannett in 1991 as associate publisher of The Record in Stockton, Calif. In 1993, he was named president and publisher. He joined the staff of the Pacific Newspaper Group in November 1994 after the sale of The Record by Gannett. Before joining Gannett, he held several management positions with McClatchy Newspapers.

Smith is a graduate of the University of San Francisco.

Banks, 44, had served as president and publisher since 1987. He previously served as business manager of the Citizen-Times from 1979 to 1987. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wake Forest University.

Gannett is a nationwide news and information company that publishes 92 daily newspapers, including USA TODAY, and USA WEEKEND, a newspaper magazine. Gannett also has entertainment programming, operates 15 television stations, 13 radio stations, cable television systems in five states, alarm security services and the largest outdoor advertising company in North America.