No matter who takes the job, the domino effect is likely to ripple across the company, as most publishers ultimately report to the Newspaper Division chief.
I would have bet money not long ago that Clark-Johnson's successor would be Robert Dickey, head of the Pacific Newspaper Group, a portfolio with publications in Arizona and I believe 12 other mostly western states. Dickey also is chairman of Phoenix Newspapers, which publishes The Arizona Republic. His elevation could still happen, although the Arizona, California and Nevada markets have lately been a drag on Gannett's performance.
Dickey joined Gannett at the Reno Gazette Journal in 1989, where he was retail ad manager and ad director. Department of Hmmmm: Clark-Johnson and Dickey have a shared career trajectory: She also was publisher at Reno, then Phoenix, before becoming Newspaper Division president. (Note: In an earlier version of this post, I referenced Republic publisher John Zidich, when I meant Dickey. That's what happens when you blog too fast and rely on a confusing Corporate page!)
Another possible successor: Craig Moon, publisher of USA Today. There's also Barbara Henry, publisher of The Indianapolis Star. But if the company wanted to make a really bold move, it would reach outside Gannett to someone with a completely non-print news background.
Clark-Johnson is just 60. "This is the right time to return to my life in the West -- to my family and community,'' she said in the company statement. "I am greatly looking forward to the next stage of my life, which I expect to be as rewarding as the last 40 years have been."
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[Images: Clark-Johnson, Gannett; this morning's Arizona Republic, Newseum]