The news about the prominent former president of CBS Digital Media was folded into this morning’s announcement that Gannett’s board has formally approved the spin-off creating separate companies for the publishing and TV assets.
Larry Kramer will retire as USA Today’s president and publisher later this month when the split takes place. No word yet about who will replace him. Kramer will still be involved as board member of Gannett, the company that will control the news operation and the nation’s largest collection of newspapers. The TV properties will join a company to be called Tegna.
Kramer was a surprise pick in 2012 when he was given the reigns of what was still known as the Nation’s Newspaper. He was the first person to run the operation who wasn’t at Gannett in 1982 when then-CEO Al Neuharth harnessed satellite technology to create a newspaper that could be printed and distributed across the country each weekday morning.
Wanting to drive USAT into the digital era, the company turned to Kramer a one-time financial reporter for The Washington Post who founded MarketWatch and in 2005 created CBS Digital Media, reporting to CEO Les Moonves. Kramer led an effort to focus USAT on its online content, as opposed to the daily newspaper. He also sought to eliminate duplication at the company by making the publication a source of national news for Gannett newspapers and TV stations.
The strategy also included painful staff cuts: A recent buyout sought to cut about 90 of the company’s roughly 600 positions by offering special terms to employees 55 and older who had been with Gannett at least 15 years.
Gannett expects the spinoff to be complete by the end of this month. Investors as of June 22 will end up with a share in each company for every two Gannett shares they own. The newly configured companies will begin regular trading on June 29.
That will create “two industry leaders that will benefit greatly from enhanced strategic, operating, financial, and regulatory flexibility as independent companies,” Gannett CEO Gracia Martore says. She will go to Tegna, which she says will be “one of the largest and most geographically diverse broadcasters in the U.S.” reaching about a third of all TV households.