Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Freedom Forum discloses management shake-up; Ken Paulson is out as president and chief operator
All signs now point to former USA Today Editor Ken Paulson (left) leaving the No. 2 job at Freedom Forum, the high-profile but financially challenged journalism foundation he joined as president and chief operating officer in December 2008.
A Freedom Forum statement issued late this afternoon has Chairman and CEO Charles Overby announcing "organizational changes." Among them: "Kenneth A. Paulson, former president of the Freedom Forum and Newseum, was named president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., where he previously served as executive director."
Meanwhile, on the non-profit group's website, we have within the list of officers no change in his title: "Ken Paulson is president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute." Ditto for the list of governing trustees. [Updated at 11:41 a.m. ET on Aug. 12: Freedom Forum has now changed Paulson's title on its website to reflect his new job.]
A $665,927 job
Overby's statement lists promotions for a number of other employees, but never clarifies the status of Paulson's (former?) position. If Paulson's gone, has the powerful post -- and its six-figure salary -- been eliminated? Paulson's predecessor, another top USAT editor, Peter Prichard, got paid $665,927 in 2008, the most recent year available. That included a special $225,000 bonus.
Longtime Gannett Blog readers know retired Gannett Chairman and CEO Al Neuharth launched Freedom Forum in 1991, with a $650 million endowment from the old Gannett Foundation, the company's charitable arm. Overby and many of the other officers have long ties to Gannett as well.
Based in Washington, D.C., the group is one of the largest charitable foundations devoted to supporting journalism. But its endowment has been sinking -- and its mortgage debt load rising -- amid the broader decline in stock markets.
Its signature project is the Newseum, a Washington museum about news that has had a series of layoffs in recent years. The Newseum opened in spring 2008, three years late, and $200 million over initial cost projections, foundation documents show.
Read their tax returns
Salaries, bonuses and other expenses for Freedom Forum and the Newseum are disclosed in their annual IRS tax returns for 2008, the most recent year available under federal open-records law. I've now added them to a Google Documents site, where you can read and download them for free. Here's Freedom Forum's 83-page return. And here's the Newseum's 64-page return.
Earlier: As Freedom Forum stumbles on big Newseum bet, documents reveal spending often veered far afield
Can anyone clear up this mystery? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.