Gannett, owner of USA TODAY and local media organizations in 45 states, on Wednesday announced a corporate restructuring that creates two new business units.
The Gannett Media business unit will focus on news, content, operations like print and distribution, business-to-business marketing solutions (including advertising) and subscription growth through a “digital-first lens,” Gannett said in a news release. Maribel Perez Wadsworth, president of news for Gannett and publisher of USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network, has been named president of the unit.
The other unit created under the restructuring is Digital Marketing Solutions (DMS), which helps brands and businesses attract and keep customers, and includes LOCALiQ, a provider of digital marketing services. Kris Barton, Gannett’s chief product officer, becomes president of the new unit and will oversee operations that support marketing solutions, including customer services and product and engineering.
“I think that this is a massive leap forward in terms of having our organizational structure really help to power the execution of our strategy,” Barton said. “We are a subscription-led business. That means that we are organizing this way to focus on that strategy.”
Two other Gannett executives, Kevin Gentzel, the chief revenue officer, and Bernie Szachara, the president of U.S. publishing operations, are leaving the company in the coming weeks. Reed sent a note to employees lauding their service and acknowledging their “extraordinary stewardship during their tenure.”
Gannett shares closed down 0.5% Wednesday, ending the day at $3.91 on the New York Stock Exchange.
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The reorganization should improve operating efficiency and accelerate Gannett’s future as a subscription-led business, according to Gannett Chairman and CEO Michael Reed.
“This reorganization ensures our consumer and B2B businesses are strategically optimized for our next stage of growth with incredibly experienced leadership at the helm while championing our culture of inclusion and driving our long-term goals for sustainable revenue and cash flow growth,” Reed said in the release.
Wadsworth, a graduate of the University of Miami, has been with Gannett for more than 25 years. She started her career with the company as a reporter at the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. In 2015, she was appointed as Gannett’s first chief strategy and transformation officer.
Wadsworth serves on the board of directors of the Associated Press and online learning community Skillshare, chairs the News Media Alliance and is president of the International News Media Association.
“It is both a great privilege and responsibility to lead Gannett Media as we build a strong future,” Wadsworth said in the release. “My focus is on strengthening our journalism – this is our mission, and dramatically diversifying our content portfolio for growth – this is our promise as a vibrant, next-generation media company.”
Barton has led product development for Gannett’s consumer and marketing products since 2017, when he was named chief product officer. Before joining Gannett, he led a global team as the chief product officer of ReachLocal, where he oversaw product and technology. The Brigham Young University graduate also worked as chief operating officer at multimedia software company Nero and held various leadership roles at Microsoft Corporation.
“Local businesses are core to the character and economies of our communities around the world, now more than ever,” said Barton. “As consumers continue to demand more, we’ll ensure we continue to offer touchpoints and solutions that help propel their businesses.”