Friday, January 18, 2008

In Saridakis, a new generation jockeys for power

I wrote that Newspaper Division President Sue Clark-Johnson's pending exit represents a high-profile blow to the Old Guard. But I had little idea the New Guard was rushing up so quickly behind her: At long last, the technologists are reaching for the levers, elbowing past the sales, finance and other operational suits who've long run Gannett.

I'm talking about Chris Saridakis (left), promoted to chief digital officer on Monday -- a job unimaginable only a few years ago. Yet Saridakis, just 39 years old and with the company less than three years, has now pole-vaulted onto the powerful, 11-member Gannett Management Committee. He's suddenly got a seat alongside members including CEO Craig Dubow; USA Today publisher Craig Moon; grouchy-looking Senior Vice President for Labor Relations Wendell J. Van Lare, and Gannett Broadcasting President Dave Lougee. (Imagine the surreptitious BlackBerry texting going on during meetings. Lougee to Saridakis: welcome 2 hell date u nerd. Saridakis to Lougee: tv is so 2007.)

Saridakis reports directly to Dubow. Plus, it's a safe bet the board of directors will watch to see if he could succeed Clark-Johnson when she retires in May.

Also on the management committee, of course, is Clark-Johnson (left), 60 years old and a 40-year Gannett lifer. She's returning to Phoenix, where The Arizona Republic is fighting a rapidly cooling real estate market, a drag on Gannett's revenue. The Republic is the second-biggest after USA Today in the company's aging stable of newspapers.

Saridakis, in contrast, has been with GCI only since the June 2005 acquisition of the advertising software company he led, PointRoll, prior to getting the digital chief's job on Monday.

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[Photos: Gannett]


  1. I bet Michael Manness is pissed. He was the golden tech boy of corporate and now he's stuck with the DIG while the new guy has power to really make changes.

  2. I'll bet my GCI stock that old SC-J was shown the door.

  3. I listened to the noontime spiel and can't say that I was very impressed. I bet Dubow liked all the talk of Pointroll having tons of success while being "unfunded," since we certainly can't expect GCI to adequately fund any new initiatives. Other than that, I didn't hear anything that I haven't heard from dot-com guys for the last 6 years.

  4. I think you are totally wrong. This guy is pretty straight up and I thought that he has new ideas and definitely the experience to get the job done (unlike others in the company). I listened together with some colleagues and we were all impressed.

    If you look at his record, I think it speaks for itself. How many people in this company can offer to get in front the whole company in the first week on the job? When was the last time you heard from the other "chiefs"?

  5. Jim,
    Do you or anyone else reading this have a recording of this that can be posted? Or does anyone know if Gannett is archiving it? I actually had to -- WORK -- at noon yesterday so I couldn't just sit back, eat popcorn and listen to the future.

  6. I do not have a copy; I would hope the company would archive an audio version on the Intranet. (I actually didn't hear Chris, because I can't access the Intranet.)

  7. Maybe you can do an interview of chris too? :)


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