WHAS-TV’s Mark Hebert, the city’s top investigative reporter who’s been at the station since 1987, is taking a communications position at the University of Louisville, and will head the school’s public relations efforts. He’ll report to Mary Griffiths, senior associate VP for Advancement.
“U of L has been talking to me for several months about heading their P.R. efforts,” Hebert said. “I’ve known Jim Ramsey for 20 years. He’s a great guy and a terrific president for U of L.”
Hebert added that his first goal on the job will be to enhance the University’s relationship with the news media. “The bottom line is that Jim Ramsey will have the final say on anything I do,” he said. “I’ll strive for a more openness and quickness in dealing with the media.”
Hebert’s departure creates a challenging situation for WHAS-TV, still reeling from the untimely death of veteran reporter Chuck Olmstead.
“Chuck and Mark with their combined experience are really impossible to replace,” said WHAS GM Mark Pimentel. “The passing of Chuck is still hard for us here, and now we must deal with losing a second institution…Mark Hebert.”
Of course, Hebert’s move to P.R. may be a relief to some newsmakers, but it’s a big blow to investigative reporting in the city.
“Mark’s understanding of the inner workings of state government and the great job he does of holding those folks accountable was outstanding,” Pimentel added. “I remain committed to investigative journalism and will be looking for reporters who are innately curious and have a strong track records.”
Hebert said he had nothing negative to say about the WHAS-TV newsroom and current management staff, and that he still enjoys reporting.
In his new job, Hebert will head the school’s newsroom. John Drees, who has been handling many of Hebert’s new duties, is moving to a new position as head of internal and external communications for the Belknap Campus, according to Griffiths.
“We identified Mark as a potential candidate six months ago,” Griffiths said. “The reason was his extraordinary knowledge of our community and tremendous relationship with people in Frankfort and across the state, members of our board and he has great respect among journalists. He also has tremendous integrity, energy and focus.”
Hebert starts his new job May 4.
NOTE: For those of you who don’t know, Hebert and I have been close friends since college.