By: Don Kaulser, Morning News
FLORENCE, S.C. – South Carolina native Bailey Dabney is the new regional publisher of the Morning News and its affiliated publications.
Dabney, 52, has served for the past 1½ years in Warrenton, Virginia, as the publisher of the Fauquier Times and two affiliated newspapers.
The Fort Mill native was introduced Thursday to the Morning News staff.
Dabney replaces Joe Craig, who has served two-plus years as regional publisher of the Morning News.
“I’m a product of South Carolina. This is to a degree a homecoming for me,” said Dabney, who has some family in the Pee Dee area. An uncle once served as the superintendent of Florence schools.
“I’ve been in, around and through Florence at least once a year for almost all of my life,” Dabney said. “We would go through there on our way to or from Myrtle Beach or on our way to Florida on I-95. I’ve always loved Florence.
“I love the idea of living in Florence. I love the idea of working for the Morning News and the affiliated papers. The Morning News is one of the historically significant papers in the South. It’s an incredible opportunity to be in that building every day.”
After spending two years at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Dabney graduated from Erskine College in Due West, where he attended on a tennis scholarship. He returns to his home state with nearly 30 years of experience as a newspaper executive. He started in 1988 as a district manager at the News and Courier in Charleston, where he met his future wife, Kim.
“I intended to be a sportswriter,” Dabney said. “I wrote sports at Erskine. I just couldn’t find anybody who would hire me as a sportswriter when I graduated from college, so I took a job in circulation just to get in the building. I got a promotion and a raise, and after a certain point when the first job came open in Sports, it would have been a backward step pay wise. I didn’t look back.”
Dabney has worked for big newspapers, such as the Miami Herald and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and smaller ones, such as the Claremore (Oklahoma) Daily Progress. That was his first experience as a publisher. During his seven years there, the Daily Progress was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in two categories in 2013. He also spent four years as vice president of a technology company in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Dabney has a long history of community involvement. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards and has chaired a number of them. Most recently he has served as the board chair for the Main Street USA affiliate in Warrenton.
“I can’t wait to see downtown Florence after reading all about the renaissance,” he said. “I’m quite the fan of old downtowns.”
Dabney enjoys tennis and golf but says he hasn’t had time for either sport in recent years.
“My wife says the other woman in our house is a newspaper,” he said.
He describes himself as a technophile.
“I’m kind of addicted to gadgets,” he said.
He also loves to read.
“I read fiction only,” Dabney said. “I can’t stay awake for nonfiction. Most of the fiction I read involves people get shot, stabbed or blown up.”
Dabney has been married for 25 years. He and Kim have three daughters and a son.
Craig will remain at the Morning News through the end of the year.
“I have really enjoyed working with the Florence community and all of our Morning News employees,” he said. “As of today I’ve really not made any decision on what I’m going to do in the next chapter of my life. I’m going to take some time off in the next few months and give that plenty of thought before making a decision. Let’s think semi-retired as opposed to retired. I’d like to ease into the fully retired status.”
Craig said he and his wife, Kathy, have really enjoyed Florence and the wonderful people they have met.
“I expect that we will seriously consider settling here permanently, so you might still see me around but just wearing another hat. We’ll see,” he said.
Craig is grateful to BH Media for bringing him to Florence.
“I want to reiterate what I have said several times to local community leaders,” he said. “BH is a great company, and the Morning News is lucky to be a BH newspaper. I encourage everyone to support the Morning News. It is your newspaper!”