AP CEO Tom Curley to retire; Board of Directors launches search for successorJan. 26, 2012
Curley, who turns 64 this year, charted AP’s move into the digital space, from overseeing creation of a digital database of all AP content to assuring its availability on every platform in every format. All the while, he insisted on maintaining the values of accuracy and trust that have been a hallmark of AP since its founding in 1846. It is these news values, he said, that distinguish AP from other agencies and assure its future.
Curley was equally tireless in advocating for open government, deepening AP’s longstanding legal and legislative efforts to make the news cooperative one of the nation’s most aggressive advocates for freedom of information. A speech he delivered in 2004 is credited with re-igniting the media mission to fight the government secrecy that many experts say increased after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. “The powerful have to be watched, and we are the watchers,” Curley said, in calling on the news industry to do more to protect freedom of information.
“Tom Curley was the perfect leader to guide AP through the roughest times the media industry has ever seen,” said William Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP Board of Directors and chairman of MediaNews Group Inc. “He was a visionary who understood the need for AP to quickly adapt to new digital times, a transformative leader who created innovative new business opportunities for our industry and an indefatigable newsman who made sure AP remained the definitive trusted source for breaking news.”
“I told the board some time ago when I would be retiring, but it is hard to think about leaving this special organization,” said Curley, who returned last week from opening a full-time bureau in North Korea, the first for an international news organization. “There is this passion, this commitment to journalism in its purest form that makes it unique on the planet. Nowhere else does anyone have such a direct opportunity to commit journalism and have as much impact as they do here. I got to be a part of it, and play a role in its mission to break news first from around the world. I’ve been honored to work for AP.”
The AP Board of Directors has formed a committee to search for a successor to Curley, headed by Mary Junck, chairman and CEO of Lee Enterprises and an AP board member. Curley will stay on until a successor is in place to assure a smooth transition.
Curley was only the 12th person to lead The Associated Press since its founding 166 years ago when he came to AP from his position as president and publisher of USA Today.
Under his leadership, AP expanded its news footprint in critical hotspots, including North Korea and Pakistan, and won two Pulitzer Prizes, for photography. With the opening of the Pyongyang office, AP is the first news organization to operate a text and photo bureau with full-time staff in North Korea.
A journalist by upbringing, Curley often shot photos and wrote stories for AP, which were used in major publications across the U.S.
His push to protect original news content from misappropriation led to the development of the AP News Registry, to track and tag content online, and eventual creation of NewsRight, an independent industrywide digital rights and content licensing organization that was spun off from AP in 2011. Under Curley, AP was the critical force in establishing the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of news organizations and journalism-related groups that promotes accessible, accountable and open government. He is the recipient of numerous First Amendment awards.
Curley reorganized AP’s business infrastructure. Upon arriving at AP, he immediately set out to make AP a multimedia digital news organization, making AP content available across all platforms, including select consumer-facing portals and applications.
Yet with his focus on the future of news in a digital world, Curley has been passionate about recording and preserving AP’s past. One of his first acts when he joined AP was to create an historical archive; none had previously existed at AP. Today, the AP Corporate Archives is a unique repository, documenting American journalism and its role in world events.
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