NEW YORK -- The Associated Press today named Gary Pruitt as its new president and CEO. Pruitt, currently chairman, president and CEO of The McClatchy Co., will join AP in July.
He succeeds retiring AP President and CEO Tom Curley to become the 13th leader of AP in its 166-year history.
“In Gary, we have chosen a seasoned and worthy successor to Tom Curley to continue AP’s transition to a digital news company,” said Dean Singleton, outgoing chairman of the AP Board of Directors and chairman of MediaNews Group Inc. “Gary has deep experience in the changing world of the news industry, an acute business sense and an overriding understanding of and commitment to AP’s news mission. His background as a First Amendment lawyer is a hand-in-glove fit with AP’s long leadership role in fighting for open government and freedom of information. And, he knows AP well.”
“The Associated Press is the most important news organization in the world and an essential force in democracy,” said Pruitt. “Tom Curley has made AP an industry leader in looking for new ways to grow in this digital era. AP’s work on digital platforms, e-commerce models and making video fully accessible opens doors for new audiences for AP as well as AP print and broadcast members and customers. I’m honored to play a role in AP’s next phase of growth and innovation.”
Pruitt, 54, has served on the AP Board of Directors for nine years, including a period as vice chairman. He has worked for McClatchy for 28 years, being named president in 1995, CEO in 1996 and chairman in 2001.
“Gary’s experience spans a wide range of media, from print to digital, but he also has been closely involved in successful media advertising efforts and technology partnerships that play such a crucial role in the news industry today,” said Mary Junck, AP’s incoming chairman, who headed the search committee and is chairman and CEO of Lee Enterprises. “His commitment to high-quality news content mirrors AP’s values of accuracy, fairness and independence.”
The third-largest newspaper company in the United States, McClatchy owns 30 daily newspapers with a combined circulation of 2.0 million daily and 2.8 million on Sundays. Annual company revenues were $1.3 billion in 2011. More than 20 percent of the company’s advertising revenue – nearly $200 million -- comes from digital advertising. Under Pruitt’s leadership, McClatchy took on ownership stakes in key classified advertising companies such as CareerBuilder.com, the nation’s largest online jobs site; the popular auto website Cars.com; and the rental site Apartments.com. It has agreements with Google and Yahoo, as does AP.
McClatchy is recognized for the value it places on news coverage and quality news content. McClatchy papers have won 52 Pulitzer Prizes over their histories, 13 of them the prestigious Gold Medal for Public Service. In 2009, The Miami Herald won a Pulitzer for breaking news photography for coverage of storms that caused a humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Like AP, McClatchy delivers its news content across an array of platforms, including newspapers, leading local websites, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, both paid and free mobile apps and niche publications.
“Gary and I have worked closely together for the last nine years,” said Curley, who will step down in August after a brief period of overlap with Pruitt. “He is a strong decision-maker and experienced leader with excellent management skills. Gary has demonstrated profound admiration for AP’s staff and is deeply committed to upholding AP’s values and its global role as the definitive source for trusted news.”
Pruitt graduated from the University of Florida and attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his master’s degree in public policy and his law degree from U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 1982. In his first position after graduation, he practiced First Amendment, libel and public access work at the Miami law firm Paul & Thompson.
He served as general counsel for McClatchy from 1984 to 1991, and was key in taking the company public in 1988. It is now traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1990 he was named assistant to the president of The Sacramento Bee, and from 1991 to 1994 was publisher of The Fresno Bee, where he also oversaw the bilingual newspaper, Vida en el Valle.
As vice president of operations and technology for McClatchy, he oversaw the corporate legal department and directed McClatchy’s online strategy.
Pruitt is a former chair of the Newspaper Association of America. Among his awards and honors, he has won the Isaiah Thomas Award for outstanding contributions to the newspaper industry, from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He and his wife, Abby, have two daughters.