Gan­nett CEO Dickey to re­tire in 2019

Com­pany ex­panded its reach un­der his watch

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Phi­lana Patterson and Mike Snider

Gan­nett Co., which op­er­ates USA TO­DAY and 109 lo­cal me­dia prop­er­ties, said Wed­nes­day that Pres­i­dent and CEO Robert J. Dickey has de­cided to re­tire from the com­pany in 2019.

The Gan­nett board of di­rec­tors has ini­ti­ated a suc­ces­sion plan and en­gaged an out­side search firm to as­sist in eval­u­at­ing in­ter­nal and external can­di­dates. Dickey, 61, will con­tinue to lead the com­pany as pres­i­dent and CEO dur­ing the process and will be in­volved in the search.

He has agreed to re­main with the com­pany un­til May 7, 2019. If a suc­ces­sor is iden­tified prior to that date, Dickey will stay on as an ad­viser.

Dickey’s ca­reer has been marked by waves of change that have in­cluded the spinoff of Gan­nett’s broad­cast divi­sion into a sep­a­rate com­pany and the on­go­ing trans­for­ma­tion of Gan­nett into a dig­i­tal news or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Dickey said the de­ci­sion was made in con­sul­ta­tion with the board and was driven partly by the de­sire to spend more time with fam­ily.

“I think we’ve done an amaz­ing job of po­si­tion­ing the com­pany for fu­ture growth,” Dickey said Wed­nes­day.

Among the ac­com­plish­ments Dickey said he is most proud of is the for­ma­tion of the USA TO­DAY Net­work and at­tract­ing a big­ger au­di­ence all while demon­strat­ing a ded­i­ca­tion to in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism.

He be­came pres­i­dent & CEO of Gan­nett in June 2015 and helped over­see the split of USA TO­DAY’s par­ent com­pany, Gan­nett, into two sep­a­rate pub­licly traded com­pa­nies: Gan­nett, a pub­lish­ing com­pany, and TEGNA, a broad­cast­ing com­pany with 47 TV sta­tions in 39 mar­kets.

In De­cem­ber 2015, Gan­nett launched the USA TO­DAY Net­work, unit­ing USA TO­DAY and its me­dia busi­nesses in the 92 lo­cal mar­kets it owned at the time to im­prove co­or­di­na­tion of news cov­er­age and mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The last three years has seen Gan­nett add to its port­fo­lio of pub­li­ca­tions. Dur­ing 2016, Gan­nett ac­quired the Jour­nal Me­dia Group, which in­cludes the Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sentinel and 14 other news­pa­pers, and the North Jer­sey Me­dia Group, which in­cludes The Record of Ber­gen County.

In ad­di­tion to growth, Gan­nett ad­vanced to a new level of jour­nal­is­tic ex­cel­lence with the USA TO­DAY Net­work win­ning three Pulitzer Prizes in April for in-depth cov­er­age of the bor­der wall be­tween the U.S. and Mex­ico, the heroin epi­demic and ed­i­to­rial writ­ing in health care. “To win three Pulitzers ... was one of my proud­est mo­ments,” he said.

Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, Dickey has over­seen the com­pany’s dig­i­tal growth. The USA TO­DAY Net­work in Oc­to­ber set a high of 129.9 mil­lion monthly unique visitors, a 5 per­cent in­crease over the pre­vi­ous year, ac­cord­ing to com­Score data.

A big part of the com­pany’s strat­egy un­der Dickey was to cre­ate new rev­enue streams, such as the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing divi­sion ReachLo­cal, which helps small and medium-sized busi­nesses at­tract cus­tomers. Re­cent ac­qui­si­tions have al­lowed Gan­nett to broaden its dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing ser­vices sales so­lu­tions through LOCALiQ, which gives Gan­nett na­tion­wide end-to-end dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing ser­vices for clients; SweetIQ, a lo­ca­tion and rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment soft­ware com­pany; and WordStream, a cloud­based soft­ware-as-a-ser­vice (SaaS) that pro­vides so­lu­tions for lo­cal and re­gional cam­paigns.

“With ac­qui­si­tions in­clud­ing the Jour­nal Me­dia Group, ReachLo­cal, SweetIQ and WordStream we have dif­fer­en­ti­ated Gan­nett from our peers. It seemed like the per­fect time to pass the reins to the next gen­er­a­tion,” Dickey said.

USA TO­DAY

“I think we’ve done an amaz­ing job of po­si­tion­ing the com­pany for fu­ture growth,” Gan­nett Pres­i­dent and CEO Bob Dickey said Wed­nes­day.

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