Media General President and CEO Marshall Morton to retire at year's end
In a move which seems to cement Media General's evolution into a TV and digital-focused company, president and CEO Marshall Morton will retire at the end of 2012, with the organization's head of digital media and mobile operations named to succeed him.
Morton, 66, will retire Dec. 31, capping 23 years at the Richmond, Va.-based company, which owns the Tampa Tribune, Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8, their combined website TBO.com and several smaller area print outlets.
George Mahoney, the company's vice president of growth and performance, will replace Morton; Mahoney, 60, oversees digital media, mobile operations and central broadcast TV operations.
Last month, Media General completed the sale of all its newspapers outside the outlets in the Tampa Bay area to a company owned by superstar investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway firm for $142 million in cash.
Back then, Morton said in a statement that "our model has been shifting more toward Broadcast and Digital in recent years,” noting 87 percent of the company's platform cash flow came from broadcast TV in the first quarter of 2012.
Company officials have insisted that other potential buyers are interested in purchasing the Tampa Tribune, but have not disclosed any names.
As Poynter.org noted, the company laid off 75 employees in July, saying they weren't needed in a organization which changed from employing 4,000 staffers before the sale to a workforce of 1,400 at the TV stations.
The company's press release on the move is included below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media General President and Chief Executive Officer Marshall N. Morton to Retire Dec. 31, 2012, Board Elects George L. Mahoney Successor
Richmond, VA - Media General, Inc. (NYSE:MEG) said today that the board of directors announced that company president and chief executive officer Marshall N. Morton, 66, plans to retire at the end of this year after 23 years of outstanding service to the company. The board also announced that it has elected George L. Mahoney, 60, vice president-growth and performance, to succeed Mr. Morton, effective January 1, 2013. In the interim, Mr. Mahoney will serve as vice president, chief operating officer.
J. Stewart Bryan III, chairman of the Media General board, said, “Marshall joined Media General as chief financial officer in 1989. In his early years, we refocused Media General on its core strengths of local news, excellent journalism and southeastern markets. As president, he guided Media General through unprecedented change in the media industry and a severe economic downturn. I thank Marshall for his innumerable contributions to Media General, and I wish him and his wife, Caroline, all the best in retirement,” said Mr. Bryan. “George has served with distinction in all his roles since joining Media General in 1993. As a strong company leader with deep media industry experience, he is the right person to lead the company forward as a pure television broadcaster with long-term financing arrangements that provide flexibility for future growth,” said Mr. Bryan.
Mr. Morton said, “I have worked closely with the board to plan for the best management succession at Media General. I’m delighted that the board elected George to succeed me. He has the experience, talent and energy to lead Media General to new successes, and I look forward to assisting in a smooth transition,” said Mr. Morton.
As vice president-growth and performance, Mr. Mahoney has been responsible for Media General’s digital media and mobile operations, including content initiatives that attract new audiences to all of the company’s platforms and programs to create new revenue streams. He also has been responsible for central broadcast television operations, including master control, traffic and graphics. Mr. Mahoney joined Media General in 1993 as general counsel and corporate secretary and was elected a corporate vice president in 2006. As general counsel, he was deeply involved in all regulatory, legislative, other legal and operating matters related to the company’s television stations. He has played an integral role in the company’s broadcast acquisitions. He served the board of directors as corporate secretary for 18 years. Since 2009, Mr. Mahoney also has led the company’s innovation process, which engages employees in new product development.
“Media General has a very promising future as a television broadcaster, with our portfolio of top ranked stations located in attractive markets,” said Mr. Mahoney. “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the company forward at this time of great opportunity. We will capitalize on the new frontiers afforded by technology and evolving consumer preferences. As we grow, we will uphold our commitment to trusted journalism and to our values of integrity, quality and innovation,” said Mr. Mahoney.