Gannett ups digital ante

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Gannett ups digital ante
Gannett ups digital ante

Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today and local newspapers across the country, has named Chris Saridakis as SVP and chief digital officer and Jack Williams president of Gannett Digital Ventures.

Saridakis was previously CEO of PointRoll Inc., a rich media company owned by Gannett. As Gannett's first official CDO, Saridakis will work on expanding the company's digital operations worldwide; such operations include newspaper-affiliated Web sites, like USAToday.com, entertainment sites like Metromix, and local sites fed by contributors, such as indymoms.com.

Williams, who acted as president of Gannett Digital before moving to his newly-created role, will be responsible for Gannett's online classified companies and other businesses. Investments in online classifieds, such as careerbuilder.com, have played a large role in Gannett's online strategy, and the company currently reports close to half a billion dollars in digital revenues.

“Jack Williams has been very focused on classifieds, and that was a big part of what he needed to do, but there will still be mergers and acquisitions,” said Tara Connell, VP of corporate communications for Gannett. “He was focused on setting the stage for the digital ramp-up strategy. That strategy has been, since 2005, to grow an international digital business and to take all of our local entry points and scale them to a national pace.”

Marketing efforts for digital operations have been limited thus far. Connell indicated that such efforts would increase in the near future, as Gannett continues to integrate and cross-market its online and offline holdings.

“We consider all of them [Gannett's holdings] part of a multi-platform operation,” she said. “We're using the Information Centers as the central core, and as content comes in it is pushed out to whatever platform is appropriate and available at the time.”

Connell was unable to elaborate on marketing plans.

Both Williams and Saridakis will serve as members of the Gannett Management Committee (GMC), which oversees management policies for the entire company. The addition of Saridakis to the Committee doubles the digital arm's presence there, signaling a commitment to digital growth.

“Until now, the GMC had one digital person on it along with representatives from the other core businesses,” Connell said. “By bringing on a whole new digital piece, we're basically squaring our digital presence. It shows the degree to which digital is core.

“Our CFO has always said we'll use whatever resources it takes to grow the digital side, but we'll do it in a disciplined and reasonable way. We have had to come up with viable businesses.”

Gannett publishes 85 daily newspapers across the US and close to 1,000 other publications. The company owns Web sites that correspond to these publications and to its 23 television stations.

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