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Monday, October 5, 2015

NEOMG's New President Tim Knight Was Controversial CEO of Chicago Sun-Times

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2015 at 4:05 PM

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Publishing Executive Tim Knight was announced Monday as the new President of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. He succeeds Andrea Hogben, who announced her departure in August. 

Knight, an executive with "extensive digital experience," arrives from Chicago, where he served as CEO of the Chicago Sun-Times during a tumultuous, slash-and-burn era there. Knight was responsible, among other things, for firing the newspaper's entire photography staff, a "draconian move," and abolishing political endorsements.

His efforts to usher the Sun-Times into the digital age (a process with which we're all too familiar in Cleveland) was mocked and ridiculed by local media. It included the "Sun-Times network," localized sites around the country with Sun-Times content. It was a " far-flung hodgepodge of click bait and news."

In general, the Sun-Times legacy under Knight "has been marked by big plans, most of which have not come to fruition," wrote the Chicago Tribune. 

Knowing the Newhouse reputation in Cleveland, and Knight's reputation in Chicago, it seems pretty clear that even more heads will roll at the Plain Dealer / NEOMG. Though with the depleted newsrooms such as they are, it's a wonder there's anyone left to sack. 

Here's Chicago media blogger Robert Feder on the hire: 

Knight never achieved his stated goal of making Wrapports profitable by introducing “cutting-edge technologies, new content portals and other tools that will expand and drive richer and more satisfying content to readers, while providing more targeted and measurable promotion options for our advertising partners.” Mostly, it seemed, the company failed with a series of half-hearted initiatives while cutting staff and selling off assets.

As it jettisoned its portfolio of suburban daily and weekly publications and websites — nearly 40 in all — Wrapports invested in a hyperlocal news-aggregation startup called Aggrego, and created the Sun-Times Network, an array of clumsy and useless digital sites targeting cities across the country. In 2012 the company acquired the Chicago Reader, the alternative weekly, which remains its only other print product along with the daily Sun-Times.

Knight was instrumental in some of the most controversial and unpopular moves at the Sun-Times, including the firing of the newspaper’s entire photography staff and the elimination of all endorsements of political candidates by the editorial board. Under pressure, both moves later were scaled back.

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