Monday, October 31, 2011

USAT Sports Media names editing, sales execs

Corporate said today that two executives -- one from Yahoo, the other from Spanish-language TV network Univision -- have been named to new senior positions within the USA Today Sports Media Group, which has oversight for all sports content and related advertising sales across the U.S. newspapers and TV stations.

Dave Morgan will be senior vice president of content and editor-in-chief, and Peter Lazarus will be senior vice president, head of multimedia sales. Both will start tomorrow, according to a statement from Corporate.

Although the statement doesn't say so, Morgan and Lazarus will presumably report to Sports Media Group President Tom Beusse, who was hired in January. Beusse, in turn, reports to USA Today Publisher Dave Hunke. (And he reports to CEO Gracia Martore.)

From today's statement:

"Morgan was previously the executive editor of Yahoo North American Audience, where he built Yahoo Sports into the number one online sports destination in the country and created a 24/7 news team to support all programming and breaking news. Under Morgan's direction, the Yahoo Sports audience consistently beat those of all other major sports properties, and set a sports web site record with more than 40 million unique visitors during its coverage of the Winter Olympic games in Vancouver."

"Lazarus comes to the USA TODAY Sports Media Group from Univision Communications, where he was executive vice president of network sales, overseeing all advertising operations for the Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision networks. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president of sales and business development at IMG Sports and Entertainment, and spent nearly 10 years in several senior positions at NBC Universal, including senior vice president of its sports and Olympic sales division. In both 2006 and 2007, he was named to the Sports Business Journal's annual '40 Under 40' list which recognizes the most promising young leaders in the sports industry."

Consolidating edit under USAT
Morgan's appointment as editor in chief raises questions about the future role of Corporate's News Department, now led by Vice President Kate Marymont. Historically, the News Department has overseen editorial for all U.S. community newspapers in terms of major content initiatives.

Today's announcement would have Morgan encroaching on that territory, however. It also would be another example of Gannett-wide editorial being consolidated under USA Today. Last spring, the remnants of the old Gannett News Service -- known as ContentOne at the time -- were broken up, with the editorial portion getting moved to USAT under Executive Editor Chet Czarniak.
Although it's likely a coincidence, Lazarus shares a background with Gannett's chief marketing officer Maryam Banikarim: They both worked at Univision and NBC Universal, although in reverse order.

Welcome, Nos. 17 and 18!
Including the appointment of Laura Del Greco in August, Morgan and Lazarus bring to at least 18 the number of top executives promoted or hired to new senior positions since Hunke announced a restructuring of USAT in August 2010l. 


  1. Corporate politics junkies will note that today's statement came from Corporate, and not from USA Today itself.

  2. Serious question. What is the significance of coming from Corporate rather than USA Today?

  3. Because I'm looking for signs that all communications may be getting consolidated under Chief Marketing Officer Maryam Banikarim's shop.

    As I said, this is really an observation of interest to insiders.

  4. The bigger question is why are more vice presidents being hired? Way too many under Hunke as it is. good grief!

  5. 2:25 and friends this is all about Beusse's new team. You've been looking for a vision of our future. Endeavors like the USAT Sports Network is the future. So before you all do what you always do.......give it a chance!

  6. A crucial question: When is the USAT restructuring going to show tangible, positive results? This is from Gannett's third-quarter earnings statement:

    "At USA TODAY, a substantial increase in technology advertising spending, the largest category in the quarter, was more than offset by declines in the entertainment, automotive and financial categories."

  7. Lazarus has been out of work for months. He also worked at two of Banikarim's old stomping grounds: Univision and NBC.

    Not impressed.

  8. It's coming from Corporate because Banikarim fired USAToday's chief publicist, Ed Cassidy. The woman is a power grabber.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. I would have been more excited had it been an executive from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or NBC Sports. But Yahoo? Give me a break.

    And Univision? There isn't a single advertiser at Univision who is comparable to an advertiser at USAT Sports.

    Who is doing this hiring?

  11. How does Lazarus fit in/work with the rest of USAT advertising sales?

  12. Very nice. But when are we going to find out what the USASN is actually going to do?

  13. You can't blame people for their negativity and doubt surrounding the new USA TODAY. All we've had over the last 15-18 months is a run-up of executive appointments (most unemployed at the time of hire), scads of people from companies completely unrelated to the newspaper business (Univision....give me a break!), confusion on top of more confusion, more consultants working on similar projects yet hired by different people, and so on. And all with very little tangible results to show for it.

  14. I worked with Dave Morgan at Yahoo! and thoroughly enjoyed it. He knows the business, he dreams big and he gets along well with others. He oversaw a significant and successful expansion of Yahoo! Sports and is a good hire for USAT's new endeavor.

  15. @2:55

    While under Morgan, Yahoo! did better traffic numbers in Sports than any of those sites you mentioned. Under his leadership, they did great investigative reports, and prior to that he worked at the LA Times.

    He's a great hire.

  16. Better content and engagement than ESPN? LOL.
    Maybe better traffic because Yahoo is a portal and not a website.
    But content and engaged passionate fans? I'll take ESPN.

  17. 2:65 do you really discount Univision? Really? You have no idea Wgat you are talking about!

  18. SI > ESPN.
    And ESPN > Yahoo Sports.
    'Nuff said.

    Still no 411 on how newspaper photo staffs will be affected by the new division, esp. those properties in college and/or pro sports markets.

  19. Beusse is about the only one of this new regime I have any faith in. Looks like he's bringing together a solid crew. Let's give it time.

    The others - it's time to start showing....or start going!

  20. Wondering if the person who LOL'd at Yahoo Sports actually bothered to look at their content. It's solid.

  21. The Lazarus guy looks like the doppelganger of this Maddox character who ran for Ag Commish in Fla. last year and lost:

  22. 10:03 I went to the yahoo sports page and seriously, my eyes glazed over. There is so much clutter on that entry page it makes me insane.

    Please tell me Gannett will do better than that piece of crap.

  23. Clutter on Yahoo's entry page to Sports? Are you the dude hyping up ESPN? You can't move anything on ESPN's main page without bringing up a dozen dropdown menus.

    Yahoo is better. Much, much, much better.

  24. I don't know what you all are going on about ESPN for? Like anyone from ESPN would ever want to work at Gannett anyway... Stop bitching about it.


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