Kathy Johnson knew accounting was going to be for her since her first exposure to it in high school. What she didn’t expect was a career that would consist of working at a number of different publications around the nation, from Dallas Homes magazine to USA Today.
Her first job in newspapers was as a staff accountant at the Dallas Times Herald. “It wasn’t something I expected to happen, but I always loved reading newspapers and thought, ‘Why not apply for the position and get into newspapers on the ground level.’”
From there Johnson moved to the Houston Post and eventually to USA Today, working as the controller in the circulation office, which took her to Los Angeles and then to Atlanta.
“Working at USA Today was really awesome,” she says. “The atmosphere and camaraderie was really exciting. You got a lot of training.”
But Johnson wanted to get back to California, and eventually took a job at the San Jose Business Journal during the dot-com era. “That was also exciting,” she says. “But I really missed working for a big newspaper, and the dot-com era was slowing down, so I took a position for the Arizona Republic.”
Johnson stayed there for a while, but California beckoned, so she moved to Los Angeles to work for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, which owns nine newspapers. She is vice president of finance for the group’s Inland Newspaper Division, which operates six of the nine daily papers.
Johnson’s job includes copious amounts of forecasting, which has submersed her in the print versus internet discussion all newspapers are facing. “One of my jobs over the next month is to figure out which subscribers are more profitable,” she says. “Part of the problem is we’re dealing with three generations of consumers, who all want their news in different forms: web, newspaper, cell phone, etc.”
Johnson says her CPA license and training have served her well. “Going through what I did to become a CPA really helped me to be proficient in what I do,” she says.
Not knowing what to expect each day she goes into the office keeps her interested in her job. This variety is something Johnson believes many people overlook about being a CPA.
“There are many different types of positions within accounting,” she says. “Many people avoid it because they say they don’t want to do taxes. I don’t do taxes—besides my own. You also don’t have to do auditing, but it will give you an inside look at how a company operates in that two-year period. If you think you can help people manage their money, or invest, you can also go that route.”