In a sign that the Chicago Tribune may be moving closer to the apocalypse, Tim Knight has stepped down as president and chief executive officer of parent company Tribune Publishing.
Terry Jimenez, the company’s chief financial officer, was appointed CEO, and Mike Lavey, chief accounting officer, was named interim CFO in the shakeup announced Monday.
Knight’s sudden departure as an officer and a member of the company’s board comes as New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital takes on a looming role as Tribune Publishing’s largest stockholder. It follows the announcement of voluntary buyout offers to employees throughout the company as a precursor to additional job reductions.
Alden Global Capital is widely believed to be planning deep cuts at Tribune newspapers in keeping with the hedge fund’s reputation for sweeping layoffs and other aggressive measures at its news operations.
Sources interpreted Knight’s move as dimming any prospects that a local investor might step in to save Tribune Publishing before Alden Global Capital increases its hold on the company.
“This past year we have been focused on stabilizing Tribune financially so that we can continue to invest in quality, local journalism, which is the key to the company’s long-term success,” Knight said in a statement. “Thanks to the combined efforts of our newsrooms and our digital-product and digital-consumer-marketing groups, our digital-only subscriptions and associated revenue increased significantly in 2019.
“Tribune is in a solid position to continue its transformation and Terry is the right person to lead the company at this stage. I look forward to working with him as we transition responsibilities over the next month.”
Knight, who previously was CEO of former Sun-Times parent company Wrapports, joined Tribune Publishing as president in 2017. He moved up to CEO in January 2019 following the departure of Justin Dearborn.