Rufus M. Friday to Succeed Timothy M. Kelly as Publisher of the Lexington Herald-Leader
Timothy M. Kelly, president and publisher of the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky for the past 15 years, has announced his retirement on June 3. The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI) today named Rufus M. Friday, president and publisher of the Tri-City Herald in eastern Washington, as Kelly's successor. Friday begins his new assignment June 6.
"I want to congratulate Tim on his retirement and a tremendous newspaper career that spans more than four decades, said Gary Pruitt, McClatchys chairman and chief executive officer. "We're particularly grateful for Tim's veteran leadership and steady hand over the past few years, which have been tumultuous for our industry.
"At the same time, we're delighted to welcome Rufus to the publisher's job in Lexington," Pruitt said. "Rufus is a thoughtful, seasoned newspaper executive who will build upon the Herald-Leader traditions of journalism excellence and community service."
Friday, 50, became president and publisher of McClatchy's Tri-City Herald in 2005. He arrived there from another McClatchy newspaper, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., where he served two years as vice president of circulation. Friday spent the previous 11 years, from 1992 to 2003, with Gannett Co., Inc., directing circulation for newspapers in Tennessee, Illinois and Alabama.
Friday was born in South Carolina and raised in Gastonia, N.C. He attended North Carolina State University, earning a football scholarship his sophomore year and playing three years as a tight end for the university. He graduated in 1984 with a degree in business management and economics and went to work for The News & Observer's circulation department, where he spent the next eight years before moving to Gannett.
"Rufus has undertaken many assignments for McClatchy and has been hugely successful in every one," said Frank Whittaker, McClatchy vice president, operations. "As evidenced by his most recent service as publisher of the Tri-City Herald, Rufus cares deeply about his employees, his paper and the community. We're confident hell be an excellent fit for the Herald-Leader."
In 2010, Friday was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Award from Washington's Columbia Basin College, which cited Friday's community involvement and ability to foster discussion through the Tri-City Herald editorial board.
Friday sits on numerous community boards, including local chapters of the United Way, the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau, the Tri-City Development Council, Washington State University Tri-Cities Advisory Council and the Children's Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia.
"From the newsroom to the newspaper carrier, it has been a sincere honor to lead such a talented team at the Tri-City Herald -- one that serves the community so well and one that I will dearly miss," Friday said. "I am excited about the opportunity to lead the staff in Lexington," Friday said, "and make a great newspaper steeped in incredible history even greater as we navigate the challenging yet exciting future ahead."
Friday and his wife, Melody, have a 16-year-old daughter, Chanel. A search for Fridays replacement at the Tri-City Herald is under way.
Kelly, 63, concludes a distinguished newspaper career that began at age 17 as a part-time sportswriter for his hometown newspaper, The Daily Independent in Ashland, Ky.
At age 25, after newsroom jobs at The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, W.Va., The Miami Herald and The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., Kelly was named executive sports editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He followed up that early career success with key editing posts at the Dallas Times Herald, The Denver Post, the Los Angeles Daily News and The Orange County Register. Both The Denver Post and The Orange County Register won Pulitzer Prizes while Kelly was managing editor.
Kelly returned to Kentucky in 1989 as executive editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader. He was promoted to editor in 1991 and named publisher in 1996. The paper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure as an editor and publisher.
Kelly has twice been a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes. He is a winner of the Ida B. Wells Award for diversity achievements in the news industry and is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.
"It's been a tremendous privilege to have been editor and publisher of the Herald-Leader, but retirement is something I've considered for awhile," Kelly said. "I have had some health issues crop up during the past year. Nothing calamitous, but they've prompted the discussion and when would be a reasonable time to do it."
As publisher, Kelly immersed himself in the community, participating in more than two dozen boards, civic, charitable and business groups. He was twice named Volunteer of the Year by the YMCA of Central Kentucky and serves on the national board of the YMCA of the USA.
Kelly said he had no immediate post-retirement plans, but that he and his wife, Carol, would remain in Lexington close to their children and grandchildren.
"I spent more than 20 years of my career wandering the journalism landscape always hoping to get back to Lexington," Kelly said. "This is where Carol and I want to be."
The McClatchy Company is the third largest newspaper company in the United States, publishing 30 daily newspapers, 43 non-dailies, and direct marketing and direct mail operations. McClatchy also operates leading local websites in each of its markets which extend its audience reach. The websites offer users comprehensive news and information, advertising, e-commerce and other services. Together with its newspapers and direct marketing products, these interactive operations make McClatchy the leading local media company in each of its premium high growth markets. McClatchy-owned newspapers include The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer (Raleigh).
McClatchy also owns a portfolio of premium digital assets, including 15% of CareerBuilder, the nation's largest online job site, 25.6% of Classified Ventures, a newspaper industry partnership that offers two of the nations premier classified websites: the auto website Cars.com and the rental site Apartments.com and 33.3% of HomeFinder, which operates the real estate website HomeFinder.com. McClatchy is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MNI.