USA TODAY has named Maribel Perez Wadsworth as its publisher, the second woman to hold the title. Wadsworth, a Cuban-American, is the first person of colorto serve as publisher.
Wadsworth, 45, has served as the flagship news organizations associate publisher since November 2017 when publisher John Zidich announced his upcoming retirement. Zidich officially retired earlier this month.
She will remain president of the USA TODAY NETWORK, which has 109 local media properties, a position she has also held for the last six months. In 2016, Wadsworth became the chief transformation officer for Gannett, which owns USA TODAY and the USA TODAY NETWORK, after serving as the organization’s chief strategy officer.
In recent months, Wadsworth has overseen the hiring of several key positions at USA TODAY. Editor in chief Nicole Carroll joined the news organization in March; she had been editor of The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. Last week, Jeff Taylor, top editor at The Indianapolis Star and Midwest regional editor for the network, was named USA TODAYs executive editor for news. He will officially begin those duties next week.
I am feeling really, really good about some of the key leaders we are putting in place (and) I am very excited about the direction we are going, Wadsworth said. We are still in the process of looking at the realignment of resources from a news perspective to really focus on our priority areas. We have to continue to evolve and make sure that we are really focused on the biggest things, the most important work.
Wadsworth has proven she has the experience to foster ever-evolving, innovative collaborations between USA TODAY and the USA TODAY NETWORK, said Robert Dickey, president and CEO of Gannett.
Maribels passion for creating great experiences for our audiences as well as her commitment to constant innovation make her the ideal leader for USA TODAY, he said in a statement. In her more than two decades with Gannett, Maribel has gained a unique perspective on the strong and important relationship between USA TODAY and our local Network properties and their unmatched ability to together drive nationwide journalistic impact.
A native of Miami, Wadsworth joined Gannett more than 20 years ago after graduating from the University of Miami. She began her career at the Associated Press, then began covering agriculture at the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star. Subsequently, at The News-Press in Fort Myers (Fla.), Wadsworth was a reporter and held several editor positions including managing editor for more than three years until July 2009.
Wadsworth joined Gannetts corporate team in 2009, spearheading digital efforts and audience development.
Early in her career, as the only Spanish-speaking reporter at the Register Star, she covered Rockfords migrant worker community and a business district of Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs. I remember thinking that is part of why I need to be doing what Im doing, because I can help to bring out some of those important stories that maybe are going uncovered otherwise, Wadsworth said.
As an editor in Fort Myers, a project called Summer of Hunger led to the community providing school children lunches during the summer. Those things always stick with you because its in those moments that what you are doing really matters and it’s making a difference in peoples lives.
More recently, Wadsworth has especially been proud of the investigative reporting done by The Indianapolis Star, along with The Lansing State Journal, into sexual abuse within USA Gymnastics, which culminated with the sentencing two months ago of former team doctor Larry Nassar for up to 175 years in prison.
I know that that because of the efforts of the USA TODAY NETWORK and the IndyStar specifically, Larry Nassar will have no more victims ever again, thats really powerful, Wadsworth said. We must be committed I know I amto continue to support exactly that work.
USA TODAY is the No.1 newspaper in America with a daily circulation of 3.1 million.USA TODAY sitesaverage more than 98 million unique visitors a month.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.