Former Tribune publisher Tony Hunter to head McClatchy newspaper chain

Tony Hunter

 

In a stunning announcement Friday, former Chicago Tribune publisher Tony Hunter was named CEO of McClatchy Co., the bankrupt newspaper chain acquired in a court-approved sale last week by New Jersey hedge fund Chatham Asset Management. Since 2019 Hunter has been chairman of Revolution Enterprises, a multi-state cannabis firm based in west suburban Elmhurst.

Hunter, 59, remains widely admired in Chicago media circles for his fabled 22-year run with the Tribune, where he rose from circulation manager to publisher of the newspaper and CEO of parent company Tribune Publishing. He left in 2016 after leading the company through a record four-year bankruptcy and reinventing its business model.

By his own description, Hunter’s move last year was billed as a career changer: “His transition from a decades-long media career to the marijuana industry amplifies his belief in adapting, evolving and reinventing,” his website bio said. “Tony’s career as an agitator of change, and experience as a disruptor, is a natural fit for the cannabis sector.”

Hunter now lives in Boca Raton, Florida, near McClatchy’s flagship Miami Herald. The company’s 30 newspapers in 14 states also include the Kansas City Star, Charlotte Observer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sacramento Bee and Belleville News-Democrat in Belleville, Illinois.

“McClatchy has a well-earned reputation for independent journalism in the public interest, and I am humbled to lead this institution alongside Chatham, a longtime supporter of McClatchy and the publishing industry,” Hunter said.

“While honoring its past and continuing its commitment to essential local reporting, we will chart a new, sustainable path for McClatchy focused on customers, operational excellence, and organizational agility.”

Thursday afternoon update: Tony Hunter said he will continue as non-executive board chairman of Revolution Enterprises.

Friday’s comments of the day: Ralph Fortino: The Tribune is attempting to do what many major companies will also do. Why pay extreme amounts of cash to have everyone under one roof? The pandemic has taught us that productivity does not suffer when employees work from their homes. If I were a commercial real estate broker I would be looking for a different line of work as commercial rates will plumet in the future with no takers available. It is however a shame that the Trib’s leaders are doing this to squeeze every penny out of a dying publication that along with the Sun Times are definitely on borrowed time.

Joel Rio: Except productivity does suffer. We have the technology to accommodate working from home for many people. The problem is they burden the people who must be at the facilities with tasks that can’t be completed remotely. We need better resources to manage the remote productivity. Working from home means free time and less production for far too many. The economy will ultimately suffer.