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Twin Cities Business editor Jay Novak plans fall retirement

Changes for a third long-time editor in the MSP Communications stable.
By David Brauer

Few would deny the local media world’s increasing chaos, but until recently, Vance Opperman’s MSP Communications publishing empire has been an island of editor stability. Mpls.St.Paul editor Brian Anderson has held his post for an incredible 33 years; Law & Politics editor Steve Kaplan for 20, and Twin Cities Business editor Jay Novak for 13.

Sadly, Anderson is now in a home hospice battling acute leukemia (though his latest report was upbeat), and Kaplan’s title was closed earlier this month. Now comes word that Novak is leaving — though in this case there’s nothing tragic about it.

According to MSP Communications president Gary Johnson’s memo (below), Novak will retire this fall to travel with his wife, Jennie — though Johnson adds, “My sense is there will be more to Jay’s ‘time off’ than that, and hopefully some of it will be spent with us.” Johnson has not named a successor for Novak, who is also publisher.

Novak is a member of the Business Editors I Really Liked Working For Club (others: Scott Gillespie, Terry Fiedler), though I freelanced for him at the late, lamented Corporate Report Minnesota. That was before he was founding editor of TCB (formerly Twin Cities Business Monthly), which Johnson describes as “this market’s strongest advocate for business.”

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There were times when Corporate Report was the market’s strongest advocate against business — businesses that deserved it, anyway — and I miss that gutsiness. Novak has been critical of titles that “separate journalists from their readers,” though, like Corporate Report, TCB has won several national business-magazine awards.

Novak is definitely not a member of the liberal journalist conspiracy; he also served as Republican Gov. Arne Carlson’s commissioner of trade and economic development and Republican Sen. Rudy Boschwitz’s communications director.

Here’s the memo:

Our friend and colleague, Jay Novak, has decided to hang up his publishing uniform once and for all, though we have some time to get used to it. This coming September, Jay will retire from the industry he has been a major player in, for over 33 years.

It’s difficult to quantify Jay’s impact on Twin Cities Business, except to say it has been significant. If you attended any of the many events Jay hosted or created, whether it was the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame awards, the Outstanding Directors awards, the Small Business Success Stories or Healthcare Heroes events, people would consistently acknowledge him from the podium for the tremendous work he did to advocate for entrepreneurship and best business practices.

Truth be told, Jay knows just about everyone who is anyone in Minnesota business. He is a highly respected professional whom people also have great affection for. Over the years, his considerable acumen in finance and his experience as commissioner of economic development forged trusted relationships with many of Minnesota’s financial, manufacturing and agricultural business owners and leaders which worked in our favor as we sought support and access. I have always admired Jay’s talent for managing high level business relationships. It provides a level of immunity for our brands, strengthening our reputation and competitive position.

As editor, Jay completely understood and embraced Twin Cities’ editorial mission, anchored in telling the most instructive, fascinating and compelling Minnesota business stories. Under Jay’s guiding hand Twin Cities Business has been this market’s strongest advocate for business. Too, his rare ability to direct both the content and the business side of the magazine will likely not be duplicated.

In his characteristically understated way he tells me his plan is to travel with Jennie. My sense is there will be more to Jay’s “time off” than that, and hopefully some of it will be spent with us. Jay is too articulate and knowledgeable to just go away.

Here’s to 13 years of high-bar contributions!

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Thank you for your friendship and professionalism Jay. Cheers!