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From Boehne To Symson: In Sync On Digital

BoehneSymsonRich Boehne will retire as CEO later this year and, in just one of many signs of the company’s digital ambitions, Chief Digital Officer Adam Symson has been tapped to be his successor.

 

Last November, Scripps announced that Rich Boehne will retire as CEO later this year and, in another sign of its digital ambitions, that Chief Digital Officer Adam Symson will be his successor.

The transition should be seamless as the two have been working closely together in the development and early execution of the company’s digital strategy, which so far has included the acquisitions of Newsy, Midroll Media, Cracked and Stitcher.

That they see eye-to-eye may have something to do with their common media roots. Both started as reporters.

Boehne, 60, who will remain chairman of the company, began his career as a newspaper reporter at Scripps’s now-defunct Cincinnati Post in 1985. Three years later, he went corporate, handling investor relations as the company went public.

He rose in the corporate ranks, eventually becoming CEO in 2008 and chairman five years later.

Symson, 42, began his career at a Los Angeles radio station. But he soon stepped up to TV news, working as an investigative reporter for CBS’s WBBM Chicago, KCBS Los Angeles and elsewhere.

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He joined Scripps as an executive producer of investigations and special projects at KNXV Phoenix, and in 2003 moved to Cincinnati for corporate news posts.

He eventually became involved with digital operations for company’s station group and for its cable programming unit before it was spun off as Scripps Networks Interactive in 2008.

In 2011, Symson was appointed chief digital officer with responsibility for all things digital. Last November, he was made COO, a title he will hold only until Boehne steps down as CEO.

Symson sees his new job in much the same way he saw his original job in media — as a matter of producing the best possible content, especially news.

“Digital has become a  sort of artificial  catch-all. The truth is that digital itself is just a pipe, it’s just a delivery mechanism.

“You’ve really got to be focused on creating something that people want to spend time with. In the old days, we got a big share of the eyeballs because there just weren’t that many choices.

“Nowadays, you’d better create a product that commands a level of attention and breaks through the clutter. We have a really strong record over the history of this company  of being able to do that.”

This story originally appeared in TVNewsCheck’s Executive Outlook, a print publication devoted to the future of broadcasting. Read the other stories in the Winter 2017 issue here. Subscribe here.


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