(AP) Gary Pruitt of McClatchy new AP president, CEO
By ADAM GELLER
AP National Writer
Gary Pruitt, a former First Amendment lawyer who heads the third-largest newspaper company in the U.S., will become the next president and CEO of The Associated Press, the cooperative announced Wednesday.
Pruitt, the chairman, president and CEO of The McClatchy Co., will join AP in July, taking over for Tom Curley, who is retiring after leading the news organization for nine years.
Pruitt, 54, will take over an organization pressed by rapid changes in the news industry. AP has spent most of the past decade working to transform itself, launching new platforms for multimedia content, seeking fresh sources of revenue and protecting the results of its newsgathering in the online marketplace.
Intense pressure on many media companies has made them increasingly reliant on AP newsgathering. But to continue delivering its journalism, Pruitt said the organization must look for more revenue by expanding in Asia and other fast-growing regions worldwide and by increasing its product offerings.
More than half the world’s population sees news reported by the AP on any given day. The not-for-profit cooperative, based in New York and owned by its member newspapers, has about 3,700 employees – about two-thirds of them journalists – in more than 300 locations worldwide, including all 50 U.S. states.
Pruitt, the 13th person to head the cooperative since its founding in 1846, joins AP after leading McClatchy through a tumultuous period, as consumers turned increasingly to digital news sources and devices and advertisers followed suit.
Pruitt led McClatchy in its 2006 acquisition of much larger competitor Knight Ridder Inc. The $6.5 billion deal and subsequent sale of some of Knight Ridder’s holdings made McClatchy the nation’s third-largest newspaper publisher. The company publishes 30 daily newspapers, including The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Under Pruitt, Sacramento-based McClatchy also expanded its digital business, adding stakes in online ventures including job site CareerBuilder.com and auto-focused Cars.com. Digital advertising now accounts for about 20 percent of McClatchy’s total ad revenue.
Pruitt joined McClatchy as its general counsel in 1984, after working as a First Amendment lawyer. He was named assistant to the president at The Sacramento Bee in 1990 and became publisher of The Fresno Bee the following year. In 1994, he was promoted to McClatchy’s vice president of operations and technology. He was chosen as McClatchy’s president and chief operating officer in 1995, becoming chief executive officer in 1996 and chairman in 2001.
Pruitt has been a member of AP’s board for nine years, at one point serving as vice chairman.
In a note sent to AP employees Thursday, Curley explained that he plans to stay on until August so he can accompany Pruitt to the Summer Olympics in London.