Ryan named to replace publisher at The Sun

Matthews abruptly quits post she held less than six months

March 20, 2007|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,Sun reporter

After six months in the job, Rondra J. Matthews resigned yesterday as publisher and chief executive officer of The Sun. She will be replaced by Timothy Ryan, a Chicago Tribune vice president who was formerly an executive at The Sun for five years.

Matthews pointed to the twin demands of caring for her 77-year-old mother who lives in Williamsburg, Va. - 200 miles south of Baltimore - and simultaneously running the paper.

"It's too much," Matthews said in an interview in her office."My priority right now is her. I can always get another job, but I can't always get another mother."

Ryan, who will formally begin his new job Friday, was in the Sun building yesterday getting acquainted with his new duties, attending meetings and shaking hands.

Ryan served as The Sun's vice president for operations and circulation from 2000 to 2005 and has more than 25 years' experience in the newspaper business, including management positions at The Philadelphia Inquirer. His last role at the Tribune was as vice president for circulation and consumer marketing.

"I'm pinching myself," Ryan said. "I've always loved it here. I love the way of life in Maryland and the people here at The Sun in particular. I had an excellent experience here and was always hoping that I'd come back. I was pleased to get the call."

Ryan said he was busy "getting up to speed on the particulars" and has not yet created an agenda for the newspaper. "The Sun has a great tradition of success," he said. "For 170 years we've figured out how to meet our readers' and customers' needs. Focusing our attention on that, as we look forward to the coming year, is still the right objective."

Bob Gremillion, who as a Tribune Publishing group vice president oversees The Sun for its parent, the Tribune Co., wrote in a memo to the staff that he thanked Matthews "for her leadership" and wished her well.

"Though The Sun has made strong progress since Ronnie arrived last year, the demands on her time have made it increasingly difficult for her to care for her mother," wrote Gremillion, who also is publisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Ronnie felt it was best to step down as publisher and asked me to make a change."

In her memo to the staff, Matthews wrote that it had been a privilege to serve as publisher and CEO. She intends to look for a job in Virginia - not necessarily in journalism - that would allow her "the flexibility to juggle the other roles I value in my life," she wrote.

Her husband, Keith Matthews, is a regional sales manager for a building supplies company, a job that occasionally enabled him to look in on his mother-in-law.

When Matthews, 51, became publisher and CEO of The Sun on Oct. 1, she replaced Denise E. Palmer, who had left in July, after nearly four years of running the paper, to become publisher of The Tampa Tribune in Florida.

Before joining The Sun, Matthews was publisher of the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., a Tribune Co. paper with a circulation of 100,000.

Before her six-year stint at the Daily Press, Matthews was vice president and general manager of the Tribune Co.'s Orlando Sentinel Communications, which publishes the Orlando Sentinel.

Timothy A. Franklin, editor of The Sun, said he welcomed Ryan's ascension in part because "he's very engaged in the news."

"He's a news junkie," said Franklin, who joined the paper as editor in January 2004 and worked with Ryan until his departure for Chicago in March 2005. "As circulation director, he obviously wanted to sell newspapers, but it was way beyond that. It seemed to be a passion of his."

Ryan, 48, a native of Rochester, N.Y., and his wife, Trish, have two children, Tim, 16, and Kelly, 14. Ryan holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame and a master's degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Nick.Madigan@baltsun.com

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