Tribune Publishing Names New Execs as CEO Justin Dearborn Steps Down

Digital-only subscribers more than tripled during his tenure

Tribune Publishing saw leadership changes. Tribune Publishing
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After almost three years as Tribune Publishing’s CEO, Justin Dearborn is stepping down from the role and from his position as the company’s chairman of the board.

Those roles will now be split between Timothy P. Knight, who will serve as CEO and will be a member of the board, and David Dreier, who will serve as chairman of the board.

“Tim is a proven operator with an entrepreneurial approach and digital media expertise. At a time when consolidation is essential in our quest to strengthen journalism, his experience transforming media companies will help achieve success,” Dreier said in a statement.

It’s been a rocky few years for Tribune Publishing, which saw the departure of former chairman and majority shareholder Michael Ferro, who stepped down in March, after the company negotiated a $500 million deal to sell the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune and other California-based publications. Ferro was also accused of unwanted advances in a report published by Fortune.

Tribune Publishing took additional steps to strip another Ferro legacy from the brand: its widely mocked name change to “tronc.” In June, the company changed its name back to Tribune Publishing.

In a statement, Dreier thanked Dearborn, whose reign saw digital-only subscribers more than triple and an overall company reduction in debt and pension obligations.

“We wish him all the best,” he said.

Dreier, a former congressman, has been director of Tribune Publishing since June 2016 and is chairman of the Annenberg-Dreier Commission.

Knight, meanwhile, joined the company in February 2017 and, most recently, oversaw the company’s local markets. He was previously president of Advance Ohio and president, CEO and publisher of Newsday Media Group.

Knight, in a statement, said he was confident the company had “the right assets, people and strategy” to transform the business and hinted at more changes yet to come.

“We also believe there are attractive consolidation opportunities within the media industry that will enable us to accelerate our strategy,” he said.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.