Of his exit, a reader I trust tells me: "It is a slap to Gracia Martore and Craig Dubow because Michael was the future of innovation for newspaper 'transformation' and many of his presentations were used to placate the board."
Martore, of course, is the company's chief operating officer -- GCI's No. 2 executive -- and a major champion of Maness' work at The Bold Italic entertainment site, plus other projects. I'm told Maness' annual budget was $5 million or more. (Question: What happens to the Bold Italic now?)
In announcing his departure today (see statement, below), it's worth noting Martore didn't spare praise for his tenure. That suggests the breakup is amicable -- or, Martore doesn't want to offend someone who's now a big wheel in digital journalism.
To his critics today here on Gannett Blog, Anonymous@2:51 p.m. wrote about Maness' new position: "Do have a clue how BIG this job is? Do you have any concept what the true digital world thinks of Manness? This guy is major player in the new media universe. You can spew all the venom you wish but MM is a playa!!!"
Corporate is replacing Maness with another insider, Laura Ramos. She was director of innovation development for the Center for Design and Innovation, the company research and development lab formed in 2006. Its output has been, well, not exactly grabbing headlines. Perhaps that will change under Ramos' leadership.
Earlier: Among new digitals, Maness may unlock secret. Plus: Maness protégé Mary Specht fires back.
Text of statement
Gannett announced today that Laura Ramos, director of innovation development for Gannett’s Center for Design and Innovation, has been named vice president of innovation and design, reporting to Gracia Martore, president and chief operating officer at Gannett. She succeeds Michael Maness, who is joining the Knight Foundation as vice president of journalism and media innovation. “
Laura has played an important role in leading innovation successfully across the company, identifying future trends and relating innovation to customers’ needs. Her efforts have contributed much to the consumers and business customers we serve. I am happy to welcome her to this new position,” said Martore.
“At the same time we will miss Michael’s insight and willingness to experiment with new approaches and new thinking. While championing innovation, Michael also put consumers front and center as he sought new ways to enhance products and grow audience and sales. In his new role, Michael will be able to have an impact on the industry as a whole, furthering his passion for extending innovation in journalism across new media.”
Ramos joined the company in 2002 as senior business analyst for USATODAY.com and later served as the director of advertising administration for USATODAY.com, where she designed, developed and implemented a sales operations and analytics infrastructure. She was promoted to director of innovation development for Gannett’s Center for Design and Innovation in 2008. Ramos is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she received a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Economics. She is pursuing an MBA in Design Strategy from the California College of the Arts.
Maness was named vice president of Innovation and Design for Gannett’s Center for Design and Innovation in 2007. He had been vice president of strategic planning for Gannett’s U.S, Community Publishing since 2006 and began his career with Gannett as market development coordinator at the Springfield (MO) News-Leader in 1997. He served as online and new media manager at Springfield before becoming director of online services at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del.