Steven Swartz, who has run Hearst Newspapers since joining the company 2001, has been named chief operating officer of Hearst Corp. As Swartz moves up, so does his number two at Hearst Newspapers, as Mark Aldam will now serve as president of that division. The appointment of Swartz sets him up as potential successor to Frank Bennack, Jr., who returned to the CEO position in 2008, after Victor Ganzi was ousted following tension with the company’s board.
Swartz has been president of Hearst Newspapers since 2009, and an EVP from 2001 to 2008. He was credited with helping Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) create the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium as well as quadrantOne, the national online newspaper ad sales alliance it co-owns with The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), Gannett (NYSE: GCI) and Tribune. Under Swartz, Hearst also claims to have been real estate ad sales site Zillow’s first newspaper partner. He also played the lead role in managing Hearst’s acquisition of Metrix4Media, a Frisco, Texas-based search engine marketing company.
Before coming to Hearst, Swartz was president and CEO of SmartMoney magazine, which was co-owned by Hearst and Dow Jones (NSDQ: NWS) (Hearst sold its stake to DJ last year). In addition to the corporate side, Swartz started his media career on the edit side as a reporter with the Wall Street Journal in 1984 following his graduation from Harvard. He served as an editor on the WSJ’s Page One staff from 1989 to 1991.
Swartz’s big mark at Hearst has been his work on crafting a new digital strategy for the newspaper division. While it’s hard to measure his success there — newspapers industrywide have experienced historic declines over the past three years and Hearst’s papers, according to what’s available on the private company, haven’t shown significant differences from its peers on the revenue front. Still, thanks to heavy cost-cutting — again, just like its peers — the newspaper division has generally maintained profitability.
But there’s no question that Swartz has been active in trying to transition Hearst Newspapers for a digital future. In addition to the advertising alliances he’s worked on, Swartz extended Hearst’s Nstein digital content management and distribution system for the newspaper division. Nstein had previously been used for the entertainment unit’s LMK.com aggregation site. Separately, Hearst’s editorial staffers were also pressed to develop more vertical channels, to highlight specific areas of coverage, such as the oil and gas industry in Texas markets or state government in Albany.
While those weren’t major parts of the digital strategy, which also included creating apps, it did manage to help change the old mindsets and old technology of the business. The continuing work will be left to Aldam, who has been EVP, deputy group head of Hearst Newspapers since March 2010. Release