A new editor has been named for the Ashland Daily Tidings.

A new editor has been named for the Ashland Daily Tidings.

Bert Etling, 56, is taking the reins at the 138-year-old paper, succeeding Bob Hunter, who has been editor of the Tidings in addition to its sister paper, the Mail Tribune, for the last eight years. Hunter remains editor of the Mail Tribune and will handle newsroom administrative functions for the Tidings.

Both papers are part of Local Media Group, which was purchased by GateHouse Media from Dow Jones in September. Etling's arrival coincides with development of some major content and design changes in the Tidings, which are due to be rolled out by mid-August.

Hunter said plans for the Tidings include "expanding staffing and refocusing on Ashland to offer readers a paper and website that can better connect with the community."

"We also want this to be a fun and interesting read," he said, "with as much emphasis on things to do, interesting local people, lots of photos of local people, local events, local businesses ... anything local."

Etling previously edited two California papers: The Cambrian, a weekly in Cambria, and the Santa Ynez Valley News, a biweekly paper in Solvang. Both papers won numerous awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association under his leadership, including the General Excellence award for The Cambrian for 2013, designating it the best paper in its category in the state.

The paper previously had been runner-up three times for the top award. In addition to those honors, Etling personally won first- or second-place awards three times for editorial comment and four times for page design. The Cambrian was also runner-up twice in the national Inland Press Foundation Nation's Best Non-Daily competition.

Etling will be a new resident of Ashland, but he was already familiar with the community after making many trips here for vacations and to visit family and friends.

"I wasn't seeking another job," Etling said, "but when I saw the ad on one of my recent visits to see family in Ashland, I knew this was the perfect opportunity. It said they wanted someone to 'lead our efforts in refreshing and reinvigorating' the paper. That's something I've done at both my prior editing jobs, and I hope to do so again. Ashland's a great town, and I look forward to getting to know it better."

Born in North Carolina, Etling moved to Solvang with his family in 1966. He graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1980. He began his professional newspaper career as sports editor, general news reporter and photographer for the Santa Ynez Valley News in 1982.

Etling recently moved into the Ashland house he shares with fiancée Laurel Merchant. He'll edit the Tidings and do reporting on Ashland out of his home office.

"Every time I told someone I was moving to Ashland, they would tell me how lucky I am," he said. "Besides the theater and the university and the beautiful natural setting, I suspect it's the people here that make it and keep it special. Meeting them will be a pleasure."

Etling can be reached by email at betling@dailytidings.com and by phone at 541-631-1313 or 541-776-4465. His Twitter handle is @betling.