Gannett, owner of USA TODAY, restructures into two business units

Gannett, owner of USA TODAY and local media organizations in 45 states, announced a corporate restructuring on Wednesday that creates two new business units.

Gannett Media business unit will focus on news, content, operations such as print and distribution, business-to-business marketing solutions (including advertising) and subscription growth through a “digital-first lens” , Gannett said in a press release. Maribel Perez Wadsworth, president of news for Gannett and publisher of USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network, was named president of the unit.

The other unit created as part of the restructuring is Digital Marketing Solutions (DMS), which helps brands and businesses attract and retain customers, and includes LOCALiQ, a provider of digital marketing services. Gannett chief product officer Kris Barton becomes president of the new unit and will oversee operations that support marketing solutions, including customer services, product and engineering.

“I think this is a huge step forward in terms of actually helping our organizational structure to fuel the execution of our strategy,” Barton said. “We are a subscription-driven business. This means that we organize ourselves in this way to focus on this strategy.

Two other Gannett executives, Kevin Gentzel, chief revenue officer, and Bernie Szachara, president of US publishing operations, are leaving the company in the coming weeks. Reed sent a note to employees praising their service and acknowledging their “extraordinary stewardship during their tenure.”

Gannett shares closed down 0.5% on Wednesday, ending the day at $3.91 on the New York Stock Exchange.

A sign in front of Gannett Co Inc, corporate headquarters is displayed April 25, 2016 in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

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The reorganization is expected to improve operational efficiencies and accelerate Gannett’s future as a subscription-driven business, according to Michael Reed, chairman and CEO of Gannett.

“This reorganization ensures that 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 of sustainable revenue growth and cash flow,” Reed said in The Release.

Wadsworth, a graduate of the University of Miami, has been with Gannett for over 25 years. She began her business career as a reporter at the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. In 2015, she was named Gannett’s first Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer.

Wadsworth serves on the board 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 a responsibility to lead Gannett Media as we build a strong future,” Wadsworth said in the statement. “My goal is to strengthen our journalism – that’s our mission, and to significantly diversify our content portfolio for growth – that’s 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. Prior to joining Gannett, he led a global team as Chief Product Officer of ReachLocal, where he oversaw products and technology. The Brigham Young University graduate also worked as a chief operating officer at multimedia software company Nero and held various executive positions at Microsoft Corporation.

“Local businesses are central to the character and economies of our communities around the world, now more than ever,” Barton said. “As consumers continue to demand more, we will ensure we continue to deliver touchpoints and solutions that help propel their businesses.”

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