Monday, November 16, 2009

Creative Loafing chain hires Marty Petty, formerly of St. Petersburg Times, as new CEO

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2009 at 10:53 AM

click to enlarge Marty Petty

Creative Loafing, Inc. announced today that Marty Petty, the former publisher of the St. Petersburg Times and Hartford Courant, has been named chief executive officer for the alternative newspaper weekly chain.

The announcement was made this morning by interim CEO Richard Gilbert at the Tampa paper's headquarters in Ybor City.   In a press release, Gilbert called Petty's experience "an unique mix seldom found in one publishing executive.  She has solid journalistic values honed from her early career in the newsroom and her long-standing commitment to hard-hitting journalism.  All three of her last papers earned Pulitzer Prizes during her leadership.   As publisher of two of the nation's most highly respected newspapers, she has also earned a reputation as a skilled and creative marketing and sales executive who knows how to build strategic alliances to ensure success."

Petty will be working on a part-time basis until January as she gets up to speed on what is happening with the six-paper chain.  Speaking to the staff this morning, she said, "I love this business.  It's about great stories — and making the money to pay for them."

When asked what she thinks of the quality of Creative Loafing's papers, which include the Washington City Paper and Chicago Reader as well as the CL papers in Tampa, Atlanta, Charlotte and Sarasota, she said she could not give a full evaluation until she is looking at them on a regular basis.  "I have not gone deep yet," she said to the assembled staff.

Petty was hired at the Times as executive vice president in 2000, and was named publisher in 2004.  She announced in August that she would be leaving the Times in the fall.  She was with the Hartford Courant from 1983 to 2000, and before that was with the Kansas City Star and Times.

She said today that Gilbert called her in September  to get a reference for another candidate for the CEO position.  She said that she had not been looking to get back into journalism at all, but became intrigued after Gilbert suggested that she would be ideal for the chain.

Petty is off to Atlanta and Chicago this week to meet with the staffs in those cities.

Here's the full text of the company's press release:

Creative Loafing names new Chief Executive Officer

TAMPA, FL—A prominent Florida newspaper executive has been named chief executive officer of Creative Loafing, the alternative newsweekly group, its owner announced today.

Marty Petty, 56, is the former publisher of the St. Petersburg Times and the Hartford (CT) Courant. She will succeed Richard W. Gilbert who has been interim CEO since the reorganized company emerged from bankruptcy this fall under the new ownership of Atalaya Capital Management LP, a New York investment firm.

The news was shared with the Creative Loafing staff today through a memo. Creative Loafing (www.creativeloafing.com) publishes six alternative weekly newspapers and other websites, such as (www.straightdope.com) , in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, NC, and Tampa and Sarasota, FL.

The announcement of Petty, who began her newspaper career in 1983 at the Kansas City Stay and Times, marks the second significant appointment of a notable news veteran this month; having named James Warren, former managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, to the publisher and president post at the Chicago Reader.

“I’m invigorated by the possibilities to deepen relationships with our readers and advertisers and expand our influence in our communities,” Petty said. “The coverage areas which have differentiated and distinguished the alternative press historically may be more important than ever.”

“This is an opportunity to lead a truly unique company in one of the most economically challenging times we have known. But these remain vibrant markets and it’s a wide open field as all media are challenged to redefine themselves to meet consumers changing lifestyles and information needs,” Petty said.

Gilbert described Petty’s expertise as “an unique mix seldom found in one publishing executive. She has solid journalistic values honed from her early career in the newsroom and her long-standing commitment to hard-hitting journalism. All three of her last papers earned Pulitzer Prizes during her leadership. As publisher of two of the nation’s most highly respected newspapers, she has also earned a reputation as a skilled and creative marketing and sales executive who knows how to build strategic alliances to ensure success. “

In addition to her CEO role, Petty joins the company’s board of directors. Gilbert, who has been at the helm of the business since Atalaya took ownership on August 25, will continue as a member of the board as well.

Creative Loafing is headquartered in Tampa, FL. It publishes six alternative newsweeklies: the Chicago Reader (www.chicagoreader.com) the City Paper in Washington DC www.washingtoncitypaper.com , Creative Loafing/Atlanta, Creative Loafing /Tampa, Creative Loafing/Charlotte and Creative Loafing/Sarasota (www.creativeloafing.com). Its national website presence also includes www.StraightDope.com. It has combined weekly print circulation of more than 400,000 copies and monthly online unique visitors in excess of 1.5 million.

CONTACTS: For more information, contact Richard W. Gilbert, CLrwgilbert@gmail.com.

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