Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Breaking: Dickey takes Clark-Johnson spot

Gannett just announced that its top executive in Phoenix, Robert Dickey (left), has been named president of U.S. Community Publishing, formerly called the Newspaper Division -- and currently led by the retiring Sue Clark-Johnson.

The division controls most of Gannett's newspapers, produces most of the company's revenue -- and faces the most challenges in terms of advertising losses. It also employs the vast majority of Gannett's nearly 50,000 workers. Gannett, which owns USA Today and 84 other dailies, is the nation's biggest newspaper publisher.

My immediate reaction: As we'd say in Arkansas, the board of directors has good ol' boyed this one -- big time. Directors could have done something bold, reaching outside the company for an energetic change-maker, someone with a strong digital background. But they didn't. Dickey's elevation also makes him a strong candidate to replace Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow.

The questions: What other shoes are about to drop, as the board concludes its two-day meeting? Could a spin-off of the digital properties be announced, after stock markets close at 4 p.m. ET?

Dickey, 50, was a senior group president of Gannett's Pacific Group and chairman of Phoenix Newspapers, which publishes The Arizona Republic, GCI's No. 2 circulation newspaper, after USA Today.

Gannett also said the 61-year-old Clark-Johnson (left), has been named chair of U.S. Community Publishing. It's unclear from the company's statement whether she will stay in that new job after her scheduled retirement in May. When her retirement was announced on Jan. 10, I wondered whether Dickey would replace her -- though I had my doubts. Turns out, I was right.

GCI says U.S. Community Publishing includes Gannett's daily community newspapers, more than 100 websites and hundreds of non-daily publications. "The new name better reflects the division's responsibilities," the company says.

So far, reaction on Wall Street is muted. Late in the day, shares continue to trade lower, when most newspaper stocks are weak.

Dickey said in the announcement: "My goal is to move forward rapidly on our strategy to become the leading news and information provider in our communities -- a strategy that is showing results for our consumers and advertisers. I'm thrilled to continue this important work, on a new level and with great focus."

I'll be updating all day.

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[Image: Gannett]


  1. There's got to be more announcements to come.

    Unless the rest of the restructure is announced when the publishers meet in March.

    Thanks for the updates, Jim.

  2. I don't think you have as much insight as you think you do. If Gannett wanted to "good 'ol boy" someone into that job, wouldn't it have been Craig Moon?

  3. Bob's a pretty straight shooter. If anyone can see thru Giallombardo, Carroll, Althaus, and _______(fill in blank as you see fit) it's him. Hopefully, he will come in and get rid of at least some of them so there's even a chance of moving forward. Sure won't happen with them around.

  4. Discuss, please: What's Moon's next move?

  5. Retirement. In two years.

  6. He really will need to show the group he can think on his own and not carry on with what Sue started. Hopefully he can see thru the dumbass corporate VP's and make some changes. Again he needs to make this reign his own. Can he/will he do this? Obviously the old plan isn't working. Is it the people or the plan? From an advertising point of view it's got to be the people. Giallombardo and her staff of know nothings do nothing but make our current state of affairs worse. GO AWAY!

  7. I disagree, Giallombardo and her folks are doing a pretty good job. It's a very tough environment out there. Who do you suggest they put in charge of advertising at corporate?

  8. Looks like Ms. Giallombardo has weighed in. Can't imagine anyone from the field saying she's doing even a pretty good job.

  9. Okie-dokie! First, in the interest of full reminder: I worked in the newsroom at The Idaho Statesman during some of the years that Leslie Giallombardo worked as ad director. We mostly had a nodding acquaintance, given the wall between advertising and news.

    In any case, I'm think lots of people have had time to weigh in on her now, so I'm going to ask if you could shift the commenting here, OK?


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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