Jane Seagrave, chief revenue officer of The Associated Press for the past year, is leaving the news cooperative to become publisher of a weekly newspaper on Martha's Vineyard, the Vineyard Gazette.
Seagrave, 56, played a key role in AP's efforts to mine new sources of digital revenue as it brought in less money from financially struggling newspapers and broadcasters during the past two years. Last year, she helped negotiate new licensing agreements with two of the Internet's biggest companies, Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.
Fee reductions for U.S. newspapers and broadcasters contributed to declines in AP's revenue in 2009 and 2010, marking the first time that the 165-year-old cooperative has suffered back-to-back reductions in annual revenue since the Great Depression. AP CEO Tom Curley has predicted that revenue will increase again this year.
In an e-mail Friday to co-workers, Seagrave described the move as an irresistible opportunity to return to her New England roots. She grew up in Darien, Conn., and has spent parts of the summers in a family house in Maine, where she also attended Bowdoin College.
"AP is in excellent hands, and ready for its own next evolution," Seagrave wrote in the e-mail.
The Gazette said Seagrave will start her job there in early April.
The Gazette serves Martha's Vineyard, an affluent island community off the coast of Massachusetts. According to the newspaper, circulation ranges from about 10,000 in the winter to 15,000 in the summer. Retired financier Jerome Kohlberg and his wife, Nancy, bought the newspaper late last year. Kohlberg is best known as a co-founder of the buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Seagrave first worked as an AP reporter beginning in 1980 in New Mexico. She left the AP in 1986 to go to graduate school at Harvard University and later worked at legal publications and a business technology news service before rejoining the company in 2003. She has been focused on digital media since she returned to the AP and was promoted to chief revenue officer last year.
Curley praised Seagrave in an internal memo. "Her elegant thinking has helped steer us through very choppy waters as media business models change and evolve," he wrote.
The AP, based in New York, said it has no immediate plans to replace Seagrave. Her duties will be divided among seven other members of AP's management team.
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