Scott C. Schurz, a leader in local journalism, died this week at 85

Scott C. Schurz, former chairman of Hoosier Times Inc. and a leader in the local journalism industry since the day he sat down behind his desk at The Herald-Times in 1966

Laura Lane Herald-Times

Scott C. Schurz, former chairman of Hoosier Times Inc. and a leader in the local journalism industry since the day he sat down behind his desk at The Herald-Times in 1966, died Monday.

Scott Schurz, former publisher of Herald-Times and president of Hoosier Times Inc.
Schurz was 85. He became publisher of the Bloomington newspaper soon after his family bought it more than half a century ago. His stint at the H-T was to be less than two years, but he stayed at the helm until 2002, when he went into semi-retirement, still an active part of the paper.

Schurz was known for his devotion to journalism and his rabid support for Indiana University and all things Bloomington. He got to know his employees at the paper, and often wandered through the newsroom checking on the stories of the day. Or you might find him in the press room at night visiting with workers there as they got the giant press ready to print the next day's edition.

Hoosier Times Inc. publisher and CEO Scott Schurz talks to gathering of the troops, including Laura Inman and Bob Hammel, during the December 2000 kickoff celebration for the revamped Sunday paper.
Schurz knew the birthday of everyone who worked for him, and would let you know while passing by your desk, asking how things were going, exactly how many days remained until you would be a year older.

Schurz, born Feb. 23, 1936, would have turned 86 in 221 days if not for his death Monday night.

Schurz served as publisher and editor-in-chief of The Herald-Times, The Times-Mail of Bedford, The Reporter-Times of Martinsville and the Southside Times in Beech Grove.

His family's company, Schurz Communications Inc., owned the papers for years before selling them, along with the South Bend Tribune, to GateHouse Media in 2019.

"It's a sad day for our family," he said then, noting how difficult it had become for a family-owned newspaper group to thrive in the industry. He brought his H-T employees together to break the news, and was near tears while doing so.

"On behalf of our family, I want to thank you all," he said. "You've made the H-T one of the best papers in Indiana."

GateHouse eventually merged with Gannett, and the former Schurz newspapers now are part of the USA TODAY Network.

Schurz graduated with a bachelor's degree from Denison University in 1957, then worked for SCI in Hagerstown, Maryland, at the Morning Herald and Daily Mail, and at the South Bend Tribune, among other properties. He moved to Bloomington in 1966.

Throughout his life, Schurz was active in journalism-related organizations, including the Newspaper Association of America, World Association of Newspapers and the Hoosier State Press Association.

HSPA executive director Stephen Key said that when the press organization was facing financial collapse in 1994, the board of directors called on Schurz to help get the association back on a firm financial footing. He helped create a foundation to finance the organization and its efforts to support journalism in Indiana

"Scott was involved in international press freedom organizations and was a huge supporter of the Hoosier State Press Association," Key said on Tuesday.

In 1997, Schurz received the Denison University Alumni Citation, the highest honor bestowed to alumni. He was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 2003, and was named honorary president for life by the Inter American Press Association in 2005.

In a 2003 H-T story about his induction into the Journalism Hall of Fame, he credited his success to the people he worked with through the years. "They deserve more of the credit than I do. Herman B Wells titled his autobiography 'Being Lucky,' and that's pretty much how I feel. It's timing. It's being in the right place at the right time, with the right people."

Schurz also served his local community. He was active in the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, and served on the IU Foundation's board. In 2019, Schurz donated $2 million to Indiana University's Kinsey Institute to establish an endowed chair and expand research in the area of human sexuality.

Bob Zaltsberg worked for Schurz nearly four decades, first as a sports and news reporter and then as the H-T editor for 33 years. He knew the man well, and held him in high regard.

Scott gives his acceptance speech while being inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in April 2003 in Greencastle.
"Scott was as curious as anyone I ever met. He traveled the world in support of a free press and always returned to Bloomington with stories about things he'd found and learned," Zaltsberg said in response to an email inquiry Tuesday.

"He was so supportive of local journalism. He wanted to celebrate the good and point out the bad in our community. I knew he had my back when people he knew complained to him about stories the H-T did that they disagreed with or might hurt their personal interests," Zaltsberg recalled. "He never — not once — asked me to hold publication of a story. He would say, 'Just make sure it's right.' "

Funeral arrangements for Schurz in Bloomington are pending.