McClatchy Co. appointed Craig Forman as its new president and chief executive officer on Wednesday amid huge losses owing to the decline of print media. The company has struggled to make inroads into digital media despite its investments in digital products.
Forman, who has served as the executive at industry heavyweights such as Yahoo and EarthLink, is expected to turn the tide for the beleaguered print media company which reported a net loss of $37 million on revenue of $714.9 million for the first nine months of the last year. A fall of 7 percent in the revenue has summed up the nosedive in McClatchy’s fortunes ever since the online news providers came into the limelight.
Prior to his appointment, Craig Forman was a private investor and a McClatchy board member. He has also served as a reporter and bureau chief at Wall Street Journal, besides having held executive positions at companies like Dow Jones and Time Warner.
The 55-year-old has succeeded Patrick Talamantes, who was at the helm of the company’s affairs since May 2012. The decision is said to have been taken with an eye on the heavy losses suffered by the Sacramento-based company which operates 29 daily newspapers in as many as 14 states.
Forman’s appointment ends Patrick Talamantes’ four-year tenure as the Company’s CEO. Talamantes, who had joined McClatchy as CFO in April 2001, couldn’t be reached for his comments.
Under Talamantes’ leadership, McClatchy was unable to keep a check on the fall in revenue and profit even as it invested in digital media products. The growth in McClatchy’s digital revenue hasn’t been enough to offset continued declines in its print media operations. The matters haven’t been helped by the substantial debt load from the print media company’s takeover of Knight Ridder in 2006. The takeover move under the leadership of Talamantes’ predecessor, Gary Pruitt, has left the company reeling at a $906-million debt at the end of the third quarter of 2016.
“Pat led our company through turbulent times and, because of his great efforts, we are coming off a year of strong growth in audience and digital advertising revenue,” said McClatchy Chairman Kevin McClatchy in a press release. “Pat has well positioned the company for the future and was specifically instrumental in preparing for this next chapter.”
He also called Forman a “clear-eyed realist, but also an optimist” and lauded his “energy” to take the company forward. “I’ve worked closely with Craig on the board, and he has played an instrumental role in guiding the board and focusing on our digital transformation.”
In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Forman praised the headway made by McClatchy in its digital media operations while also underlining the need to move more quickly.
“We’ve already transitioned in many respects to the foundations of that digital future,” said Forman. “My goal here is collaborating in accelerating that transformation. … The thing we have to work on is our pace.”
Forman stressed the importance of print business while also talking about the allocation of the company’s resources. “I don’t see a world, and I don’t think we see a world, where the (print) industry … doesn’t exist. But I think we have to recognize that growth there hasn’t occurred for many years, and we have to be very mindful of our allocation of resources.”