- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2013

The Washington Times announced Monday that award-winning investigative journalist John Solomon is returning after a hiatus of more than 3½ years to oversee the newspaper’s content, digital and business strategies.

Mr. Solomon, 46, will reprise his role as the newspaper’s top editor overseeing news and opinion. In addition to being editor, Mr. Solomon also will take on broader responsibilities helping fashion the company’s strategies for advertising, digital publishing and audience acquisition as vice president for content and business development.

John Solomon has consistently been one of the country’s most compelling journalists over the last two decades. He has broken some of the nation’s most important stories while leading the reporters and editors around him to do the same,” said Larry Beasley, The Times’ president and chief executive officer.

“But just as important, John has pressed, pushed and prodded the profession to stretch beyond traditional business models and embrace the new journalistic opportunities of the 21st century,” Mr. Beasley added. “His work in 2008-2009 at The Times helped us significantly improve the reach and financial condition of this company, and he has returned to help put us back on the course to profitability that he started back then.”

The Times also announced it had reached an agreement to acquire the Washington Guardian, an online investigative news portal created in 2012 by Mr. Solomon and former Associated Press executives Jim Williams and Brad Kalbfeld.

The Guardian has garnered considerable attention with its exclusive reporting, including stories about the al Qaeda attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and its weekly Golden Hammer award, which highlights wasteful spending in government.

Mr. Solomon joins an executive leadership team reporting to Mr. Beasley that includes Chief Operating Officer John Martin, Chief Financial Officer Keith Cooperrider and Director of Human Resources Loveia Johnson.

Executive Editor David Jackson, who played a key role during the newspaper’s recent efforts to reorganize its newsroom and implement a digital-first strategy, stepped down last week. “We appreciate David’s efforts and wish him well in his new endeavors,” Mr. Beasley said.

Already this year, The Times has reduced its operating losses to the lowest level in its 31-year history while doubling advertising and sales revenues since January. Its Web traffic has grown substantially, and the number of readers who subscribe to one of its digital newsletters has grown sevenfold from 100,000 in January to more than 700,000 this month, creating a new source of reader engagement and advertising revenues.

The Times reaches about 90,000 print subscribers and 10 million readers each month online. The paper is poised to expand its audience over the next several months with new radio, TV and tablet products, Mr. Beasley said.

Mr. Solomon had served as The Times’ executive editor in 2008-09, a period in which the news organization added a radio program and a TV affiliation, spurring significant audience and revenue growth and reduced its operating losses by a large margin in the midst of an economic recession.

The newspaper under his tenure won some of journalism’s highest honors, finishing as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for photography and winning the Society of Professional Journalists’ highest national award for investigative reporting and the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy journalism award.

“It’s great to be back, especially with a news organization that is relentlessly committed to journalistic excellence and finding the best path to profitability in this new digital marketplace,” Mr. Solomon said. “In a few short months, Larry Beasley has set The Times on the right course and I’m excited to be joining his team for what promises to be one of journalism’s great rides.”

Mr. Solomon returned to the newspaper as a consultant last fall, helping craft digital strategies that have expanded Web traffic, grown the company’s list of email followers tenfold and created new products and partnerships that will be unveiled over the next few months. In March, he led a reorganization of the company’s advertising and sales team, which has doubled revenues over the past three months.

He said the newspaper will unveil a new subscription-only national edition targeted for tablets, cellphones and other mobile devices this summer. Mr. Solomon added that The Times will debut a Web redesign led by Mr. Martin around Labor Day. The company has launched several new advertising products in recent weeks, including email marketing solutions for local and national advertisers, new tablet and mobile ads, grass-roots engagement tools and a new print solution for front-page print advertising.

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