Newspaper exec seen as possible successor to CEO

The Hearst Corp. has named Steve Swartz, a senior newspaper executive at the company, as chief operating officer, a move that may give some hint to succession plans for longtime CEO Frank Bennack.

Swartz’s position as president of Hearst Newspapers was filled by Mark Aldam, previously a deputy group head in the division.

Swartz began his career as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, and later rose to become CEO of Smart Money magazine, a joint venture between Dow Jones and Hearst. Since joining Hearst in 2001, Swartz has risen steadily through the executive ranks.

“Steve will be an excellent chief operating officer for Hearst, just as he has distinguished himself in every role he has had across our company since 1991,” Bennack said. “His experience with newspapers, magazines and digital media will enable him to play a key role in developing Hearst’s future growth strategy as we continue to focus on new revenue streams and expanding current brands across multiple platforms. Steve is a talented business executive and leader, and I welcome him to this new role.”

Swartz serves on the board of directors of Hearst Corp.

Media watchers have often wondered who would succeed Bennack, 78, who retired as CEO in 2002. But he assumed the role again when Victor Ganzi left the 124-year-old, privately-held company in 2008 over irreconcilable differences with the company board of trustees. Hearst’s properties include magazines, newspapers and tv stations, as well as a lucrative stake in cabler ESPN.

In addition, Hearst has named three additional executives to its board of directors — David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines; Michael Clinton, president, marketing and publishing director at Hearst Magazines, and Duncan Edwards, president & CEO, Hearst Magazines International. The new appointments brings the numbers of directors now to 22.

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