Frank Blethen to Step Down as Seattle Times Publisher and CEO After 40 Years

Frank Blethen, the 79-year-old publisher and CEO of The Seattle Times, has announced his plans to step down at the end of 2025 after four decades of leading the family-owned newspaper, which has won nine Pulitzer Prizes under his leadership and remains a vital source of high-quality journalism in the region. This description focuses on the primary topic (Frank Blethen's retirement), the main entity (The Seattle Times), the context (the newspaper industry and the region of Seattle), and the significant actions and implications (Blethen's leadership and the newspaper's awards and reputation). The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the newspaper's logo, Blethen's image, or a representation of the Pulitzer Prizes.

Nitish Verma
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Frank Blethen to Step Down as Seattle Times Publisher and CEO After 40 Years

Frank Blethen to Step Down as Seattle Times Publisher and CEO After 40 Years

After four decades at the helm of The Seattle Times, Frank Blethen, 79, has announced his plans to step down as publisher and CEO at the end of 2025. Blethen, who has led the family-owned newspaper since 1985, will retain his position as board chair of The Seattle Times Co.

Why this matters: The leadership transition at The Seattle Times has significant implications for the future of journalism in the region, as the newspaper continues to play a vital role in holding those in power accountable and providing high-quality reporting to the community. Blethen's legacy and the newspaper's commitment to excellence will be crucial in shaping the media landscape in the years to come.

Blethen confirmed his decision in an interview with The Seattle Times on Monday, May 13, 2024. He revealed his timeline during a meeting with former Times employees, saying: "When I got into that room and saw all those faces and people who put so much sweat and tears into the Seattle Times ... I think I just sort of got caught up in the moment. I thought, well, 'You guys at least need to know that we're in great shape, and that I'm going to be leaving in a couple years.'"

Under Blethen's leadership, The Seattle Times has won nine Pulitzer Prizes, including one in 2020 for its coverage of Boeing's 737 MAX crashes. He has also navigated the newspaper through challenging times, such as the Great Recession, industrywide contraction, and a seven-week strike by Times workers in 2000.

Alan Fisco, the company's president and chief financial officer, will succeed Blethen as CEO when he steps down. Blethen hopes to see a family member take over as publisher in the future but has not specified a preference for his successor in that role.

The Seattle Times has been owned by the Blethen family since 1896, when Blethen's great-grandfather, Alden Blethen, acquired the newspaper. Frank Blethen's father, Elmer Blethen, served as president of the company from 1944 to 1967.

Throughout his career, Blethen has made strategic moves to ensure the survival and success of The Seattle Times. In a 2010 interview, he noted: "If we had not acquired the Yakima Herald-Republic in 1992 and Maine (newspapers) in 1997, you'd be interviewing someone else, because the cash flow carried us through the strike and the Hearst litigation. A lot of people miss that, but that was absolutely critical to being able to allow us to survive this past decade."

As Blethen prepares to step down, he leaves behind a legacy of journalistic excellence and a newspaper that has remained resilient in the face of industry challenges. The Seattle Times, with its nine Pulitzer Prizes earned during Blethen's tenure, stands as a testament to his leadership and commitment to quality journalism.

Key Takeaways

  • Frank Blethen, 79, to step down as Seattle Times publisher and CEO by end of 2025.
  • Blethen will remain board chair of The Seattle Times Co. after stepping down.
  • Alan Fisco to succeed Blethen as CEO, with a family member potentially taking over as publisher.
  • Under Blethen's leadership, The Seattle Times won 9 Pulitzer Prizes and navigated industry challenges.
  • Blethen's legacy is marked by a commitment to quality journalism and a resilient newspaper.