Timothy J. Thomas, an executive with the Baltimore Sun Media Group for about two decades, has been named interim general manager of The Morning Call Media Group, parent company Tribune Publishing announced in an email to employees Friday.
Thomas will essentially be, in the interim, filling the publisher role that has been vacant since July 30. That’s when previous Morning Call Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Robert York left to become editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News, which Tribune — then called Tronc — acquired in September 2017.
On the news side, Tribune on Jan. 9 named Terry Rang editor-in-chief of The Morning Call. Rang, who joined The Morning Call in 2000 as copy desk chief and then held various news managing positions, had been interim editor-in-chief since York departed.
Rang and Jim Feher, vice president of advertising at The Morning Call, will report to Thomas.
“I’m confident that as a team they will continue to build upon the Morning Call’s rich legacy,” Tribune Publishing CEO and President Tim Knight wrote in the email. “They will be focused on delivering high-quality journalism, growing our audience, and serving our local advertisers and revenue partners.”
Thomas, according to the Baltimore Sun Media Group’s executive profiles page, is the group’s senior vice president of business development, responsible for generating revenue growth via product extensions and expansions, licensing deals and mergers and acquisitions.
In the company email, Knight called Thomas a “key player in the acquisition of several newspaper titles.”
More specifically, according to Thomas’ LinkedIn page, he helped lead the way in 2014 when Baltimore Sun Media Group acquired Capital Gazette Communications in Annapolis, Md., the Carroll County Times and City Paper. Following the acquisition, Thomas served as publisher of Capital Gazette Communications for three years, a time in which he boosted margins 13 percent better than planned, converted The Capital from afternoon to morning delivery and shifted printing and production to Baltimore, according to his LinkedIn page.
Prior to his time as publisher, Thomas served as a senior vice president, leading business development for The Baltimore Sun and The Morning Call from March 2010 to September 2014, according to his LinkedIn page. In the company email, Knight said Thomas helped roll out a digital-subscription strategy in Allentown and Baltimore.
He will reunite with The Morning Call at an interesting time, as the company focuses on becoming a digital newsroom — the kind capable of growing online subscriptions and digital advertising revenue to offset traditional print losses and set the stage for sustainable growth. The Morning Call, like many other newspapers across the country, will have to do that with a smaller staff than ever, with fewer than 200 employees now in Allentown.
“The Morning Call staff has always been committed to providing the community with in-depth journalism and competitive marketing solutions for local businesses,” Thomas said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon. “I am looking forward to working again with the talented staff at The Morning Call and helping to build upon its leading media position in the Lehigh Valley.”
Thomas, who started with Baltimore Sun Media Group in 1999, did not immediately respond to a question about where he will be based.
Before joining the Baltimore Sun, Thomas worked for about 15 years at Westinghouse/Northrop Grumman — Northrop bought Westinghouse’s defense and electronic systems businesses in 1996 — in various positions handling operations, research, strategic planning and business development. He eventually led the company’s package-sorting systems business.
Thomas also has an education that trained him to handle both sides of the aisle, receiving an undergraduate degree in mass communications from Towson University in Maryland and later his Master of Business Administration from what is now Loyola University Maryland.
Knight, who had been working with The Morning Call’s leadership team in the six months since York departed, called Thomas “a proven leader who will leverage his diverse experience to achieve our business goals.”
Recent Morning Call leadership changes
An overview of recent changes at the top of The Morning Call:
September 2015: Timothy E. Ryan, publisher of The Morning Call and The Baltimore Sun, is tapped to lead the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Rick Daniels, publisher and CEO of the Hartford Courant, becomes interim publisher of The Morning Call and The Baltimore Sun.
January 2016: Daniels has the interim dropped from his title and is named publisher and CEO of The Morning Call and The Baltimore Sun.
February 2016: Technology entrepreneur and media baron Michael Ferro buys $44 million of Tribune Publishing stock, becoming the company’s largest shareholder.
March 2016: Ferro and Tribune eliminate the publishers at its newspapers, giving the additional title to each publication’s editor. At The Morning Call, David M. Erdman, vice president/editor of the paper since 2009, becomes publisher and editor-in-chief. Daniels is out.
May 2016: Erdman retires to deal with a health condition, kicking off a search for his successor.
July 2016: Robert York is named publisher and editor-in-chief of The Morning Call. York, who had a 20-year career at the San Diego Union-Tribune, starts in August.
July 2018: York confirms his departure to become editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News, effective July 30.
Jan. 9: News veteran Terry Rang, who had been serving as interim editor-in-chief since August 2018, is named editor-in-chief of The Morning Call. Rang becomes the fifth editor of The Morning Call since 2000.
Feb. 1: Baltimore Sun Media Group executive Timothy J. Thomas is named interim general manager of The Morning Call.
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