(AP) H. Mason Sizemore, president and chief operating officer for The Seattle Times, has retired effective immediately and will be replaced by General Manager Carolyn S. Kelly, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The decision was personal and Sizemore felt comfortable in leaving abruptly because Kelly was already in place to succeed him, said spokeswoman Kerry Coughlin.
“He’s been working very closely with someone for many years in preparation for someone to take the reins, and I think the time has come for that,” Coughlin said.
Sizemore, 60, would not be available for comment, Coughlin said.
Sizemore’s retirement follows one of the most tumultuous years for the newspaper. Sizemore was thrust into the spotlight as chief spokesman for the paper during a bitter 49-day strike that began last November.
The paper continued to publish during the strike but suffered financial losses, and the economic slowdown that followed has hindered the paper’s efforts to rebound.
Citing an advertising revenue decline sharpened by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Times has said it will not turn a profit this year and might not make money in 2002.
The paper is owned by the Blethen family of Seattle, which holds a 50.5% stake; Knight Ridder holds the rest.
Its rival daily, the Hearst Corp.’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer, is facing similar financial woes. The two papers have competing newsrooms but share certain business functions, such as production, circulation, and advertising, under a joint operating agreement.
Figures released Monday showed circulation at both newspapers dropped slightly in the past year. Circulation for the Times was 219,941 as of Sept. 30, a 2.7% drop from 226,080 on Sept. 30, 2000. Circulation for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was 169,105 on Sept. 30, a 4.2% drop from 176,511 a year ago.
Most other papers in Washington state and nationwide saw slight gains or losses, according to the figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, an industry group.
Sizemore joined the Times in 1965 as a copy editor and spent 16 years in the newsroom before moving into management. He was instrumental in the Times‘ efforts to acquire the Yakima Herald-Republic in 1991 and the Blethen Maine Newspaper Group in 1998, and in the opening of the Times‘ Bothell production plant.
Kelly, 49, joined the Times as a financial analyst in 1977 and was chief financial officer from 1989 to 1997.