The E.W. Scripps Co. announced a leadership change Wednesday. CEO Rich Boehne named Chief Digital Officer Adam Symson as his successor.
Boehne plans to retire in the second half of 2017. Symson has been promoted to chief operating officer.
“Adam is a strong leader and an entrepreneurial thinker,” Boehne said in a message to Scripps employees. The 41-year-old Symson is “exactly the right person to lead this company into the challenging and complex opportunities ahead of us.”
Boehne, 60, has been president and CEO since 2008 and was elected chairman of the board in 2013. The board anticipates Boehne will continue as its chairman following the transition later next year.
Symson, 41, joined the Scripps TV division in 2002 and has held a variety of roles before taking over the company’s digital operations in 2011.
In that role, he has run Scripps’ local digital businesses in 27 markets as well as national digital content companies Midroll, Newsy and Cracked. Scripps’ digital portfolio includes web, mobile and over-the-top businesses, and Symson has led the strategy and execution of product development, content, revenue and marketing for that portfolio. He also has led the company’s efforts to develop new businesses in emerging media through investment and acquisition.
Symson calls it the “opportunity of a lifetime” to be able to lead a company with “a long history of excellence in journalism.”
But it’s not a job he ever expected.
“The goals I set for myself in my career long ago sort of ended at the point where I said I wanted to be an investigative journalist,” he said. “That’s about as far as I had planned.”
Symson joined Scripps as executive producer of investigations and special projects for Scripps affiliate KNXV in Phoenix in 2002. He also has worked for CBS stations WBBM in Chicago and KCBS in Los Angeles and as an independent producer for CBS News and NBC News.
“For me, the reason I’m comfortable with where I have gone is because it’s been within Scripps, a company that’s very focused on the right kind of journalism that can make an impact on the communities where we operate,” he said.
Symson said Scripps will continue to pursue the strategies Boehne established in the last several years, adding different media platforms to the television stations that account for more than 80 percent of the company’s revenue.
He said Boehne’s legacy at Scripps will be its 20-year evolution from a newspaper company with broadcast and cable properties to a portfolio company with TV, radio, podcasting and direct-to-consumer content platforms that keep consumers engaged and journalism alive in local media markets.
“Those are big shoes to fill,” Symson said. “Rich has elegantly managed this company through a number of major transitions, while deftly keeping the focus on journalism and our core mission, returning value to shareholders and growing a very important relationship with the Scripps family.”