McClatchy named a new president and chief executive officer Wednesday, appointing tech-savvy board member Craig Forman to replace Pat Talamantes as the Sacramento media company seeks to ramp up its digital operations.
The move ends Talamantes’ four-year tenure, in which the Sacramento-Calif.-based newspaper chain struggled with declining revenue and profits, amid the transition to a digitally focused media landscape.
Forman, 55, a private investor and entrepreneur, has been a McClatchy board member since 2013 and brings an extensive background in journalism and digital media. He has been an executive with such companies as Earthlink, Yahoo, Dow Jones and Time Warner, and was chairman of a mobile-advertising company that was acquired by eBay in 2011. He is a former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent and bureau chief, including stints in London and Tokyo.
“Craig is a clear-eyed realist, but also an optimist, and he has the energy we need to drive us forward,” said McClatchy Chairman Kevin McClatchy in a press release. “I’ve worked closely with Craig on the board, and he has played an instrumental role in guiding the board and focusing our digital transformation.”
Forman said, “McClatchy has a storied history of journalistic integrity, and I’m honored and energized by the opportunity to help shepherd it into the future. ... I know that no team anywhere has a better understanding of the challenges facing the print newspaper economic model.”
Talamantes, the company’s former chief financial officer and a 15-year McClatchy veteran, took over as CEO in 2012, replacing Gary Pruitt. The company, which owns the Bradenton Herald and 28 other daily papers, was already reeling from several years of declining revenue and profit as newspapers and other traditional media lost business to internet companies.
On his watch, McClatchy was unable to arrest the downturn even as it made extensive investments in digital products. Although digital revenue has grown, it hasn’t risen quickly enough to offset continued declines in print. At the same time, McClatchy has had to wrestle with a substantial debt load left over from the company’s 2006 takeover of Knight Ridder. The debt was $906 million at the end of the third quarter of 2016.
For the first nine months of last year, McClatchy reported a net loss of $37 million, including some non-cash expenses, on revenue of $714.9 million. Revenue fell 7 percent. Fourth quarter results will be released Feb. 9.