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Hoffman retires from local paper

Jeff Hoffman

Nearly 40 years with Clintonville Tribune-Gazette

By John Faucher

A familiar face in the Clintonville business community has officially retired.

In 1979, Jeff Hoffman began his storied career in print sales and newspapers.

The 1974 graduate of Gresham High School attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh where he earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing.

Fresh out of college, Hoffman took a job close to home selling advertising at the Shawano Evening Leader.

“Back then, weeklies were thriving,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman remembers when the paper operated out of the old theater building in Shawano before constructing its new operation on Green Bay Road.

By the mid-80s Jeff left his sales and marketing post at the paper and sold homes for a few years before answering the call into a sales position with Walter Gleason, a longtime owner of the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette.

Gleason and his wife Arleen owned the T-G since 1951.

Joining T-G sales staff

Gleason joined the T-G in 1941 as its news editor, but left to serve in the U.S. armed forces during World War II.

After returning to Clintonville, Gleason and his wife Arleen entered into a partnership to buy the paper and they became sole owners by 1953. They owned and operated the paper until their retirement in 1994.

Hoffman recalls their keen awareness of the many roles newspapers played in a community.

“I learned a lot from Walt and the staff he had working there,” said Hoffman.

“At the time I was hired to sell advertising, and replace Dick Koeppen, who had been there around 20 years. He was leaving to start a business of his own,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman said his prior experience selling newspaper advertising helped him land the job.

Over the course of the next 28 years he would learn other aspects of the printing and publishing business.

“I always wanted to learn the camera,” said Hoffman. And at a small newspaper office it’s pretty much an “all hands on deck,” approach when something big happens.

“They gave me a camera and it didn’t take long, photography kind of became a side thing,” explained Hoffman.

Soon he was doing breaking news photos, sports photos, and feature photos for the community.

“I always had a camera on my hip for all of those things.

There are a lot of stories I covered, and some God awful stuff too,” he recalled.

Most coworkers at the paper in one way or another were accustomed to developing printing plates, rolling film and developing film. They also collectively experienced the transition from all that old technology into the digital age.

Hoffman remembers when Bernice Fuhrmann, a friend and co-worker at the Tribune-Gazette, used a computer with a 2MB hard drive and Lotus 1,2 and 3 to create a program for pricing print jobs. She retired in 2022.

Thinking back on the rapid changes in technology, Hoffman chuckled at the 2 MB hard drive.

“The amazing thing is, it worked,” he said.

Hoffman named publisher

In 1994 Scott and Marcia McGraw purchased the T-G from the Gleasons.

Hoffman was named publisher.

By then, technology really started to gain hold in the industry and modern computers began replacing old

equipment especially on the printing and layout side of things.

In 2000, the McGraws sold their family of newspapers to Gate House Media Inc. Gate House was a national chain of newspapers containing around 330 publications.

The print shop in the back of the building eventually was discontinued.

In 2007 Journal Community Publishing Group purchased the T-G and eventually combined it with several papers in the county to create the County Post East.

In 2012 Brown County Publishing acquired the County Post East as well as other publications now part of Multi-Media Channels, including the Shoppers’ and Buyers’ Guides.

In 2014 the company returned the name Clintonville Tribune-Gazette just as it was turning 128 years old.
During his career in newsprint Hoffman and fellow staff at the T-G have earned multiple awards from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association in both photography and news coverage.

Hoffman has also helped win Wisconsin Community Paper Association awards for advertising campaigns in both the Shoppers Guide and Buyers Guide publications.

Hoffman said he was very thankful to serve with his fellow coworkers over the years and he will miss them.
He also said it was a privilege working in the community that he loves.

“You make a lot of friends in this business and you see a lot of the community’s finest in a job like this,” said Hoffman.

Retirement plans

Hoffman said he plans on doing a little more fishing in his retirement and he plans on staying active in the community.

Hoffman is a member of the Clintonville Rotary Club, and serves on the board for the Clintonville Area Foundation. He also supports the Friends of the Clintonville Public Library and is active at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church.

Hoffman is looking forward to spending a little more time and traveling with his wife Corinne of 35-years.

His former clients are encouraged to call 715-258-3207 for advertising and other questions or email [email protected].

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