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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