USA Today announced today that Maribel Perez Wadsworth will become the publisher of the daily publication, effective immediately.
Wadsworth has replaced John Zidich, who announced his planned retirement in November. She has retained her responsibility over the USA Today Network’s $1 billion consumer division, overseeing content strategy and operations, and has kept her role as president of the USA Today Network.
Wadsworth joined Gannett more than 20 years ago when she worked as an agriculture beat reporter at the Rockford Register Star. She went on to work for The News-Press in Fort Myers where she held reporting and editing roles, eventually serving as general manager for custom publications and managing editor for digital. She joined the corporate team in 2009, leading digital strategy for all of Gannett’s local newsrooms. In 2015, Wadsworth became Gannett’s first chief strategy officer. In November of 2017, she became president of the USA Today network of local-based publications.
In a statement from Gannett, Wadsworth has been called a champion of journalistic excellence, with a strong commitment to investigative and enterprise reporting. She had been a driving force behind the network’s investments in emerging technologies to enhance its storytelling capabilities, such as the launch of the first VR weekly news program, and an immersive mixed-platform explanatory series called ‘The Wall’.
Of her appointment, Wadsworth said: “I am so proud and honored to lead such an iconic brand as USA Today, building upon its core commitments to trusted, award-winning journalism and role as an industry innovator. I could not be more excited to work with this incredibly talented team, whose passion and enthusiasm consistently creates excellent experiences for our readers and our advertisers.”
Robert Dickey, president and chief executive of Gannett, added: “Maribel’s passion for creating great experiences for our audiences as well as her commitment to constant innovation make her the ideal leader for USA Today. In her more than two decades with Gannett, Maribel has gained a unique perspective on the strong and important relationship between USA Today and our local Network properties and their unmatched ability to together drive nationwide journalistic impact. I am confident that our leadership is well positioned to execute our refreshed business strategy and drive toward our goal of being essential for consumers and businesses on a daily basis. I also want to take a moment to again thank John Zidich for 40 incredible years at Gannett and wish him well in his retirement.”
Kevin Gentzel will continue to lead all advertising for USA Today, as well as marketing solutions for USA Today Network North America under Sharon Rowlands. Under Gentzel’s leadership, USA Today has successfully transitioned to a premier destination for national brands and agencies. USA Today digital advertising revenue now represents two-thirds of its total advertising business. Wadsworth and Gentzel will partner to drive the digital transformation of one of the nation’s most widely known news brands.
The leadership shift comes as parent company Gannett looks to have a strong 2018, after posting losses from Q4 of 2017 to the tune of $13.6m. The national publisher has predicted revenues for this year to reach upwards of $3bn.