Houston Chronicle Publisher John McKeon said Thursday that he will be retiring, capping a more than 40-year career in the newspaper business.
McKeon, who has been the Chronicle’s publisher since 2015, will stay on with the company while a search is conducted for his successor. The search is expected to take several months.
“After over 40 years in the newspaper business, I have much to be thankful for,” he said in a letter sent to staff Thursday. “Most notably the sacrifices of my wife Deb and our family in service to my career. It is now my turn to try and make up to her for what she has done for me. A task I fear that I will not be the equal of, but I will try my best.”
Jeff Johnson, president of Hearst Newspapers, lauded McKeon’s leadership of the Chronicle.
“During his time at Hearst, he has been a strong champion of investment in our content and the evolution of our business model,” Johnson wrote in a note to staff. “John displayed incredible leadership during Hurricane Harvey, as we sustained our operation under extremely difficult circumstances, and he has led the Chronicle through many challenges and supported one of the leading newsrooms in our industry. John will also leave the legacy of a very talented and diverse leadership team at the Houston Chronicle.
McKeon came to the Chronicle nearly six years ago from the San Antonio Express-News, where he had served as president and publisher since 2012. He previously held various executive positions at Newsday, the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News. He received a bachelor’s degree from City University of New York City College.
“One thing that was consistent at each of these great newspapers was a dedicated group of people who understood where value was created by those newspapers. That value was derived by an understanding that we were responsible, first and foremost, to our mission to serve our community with quality local journalism,” McKeon wrote. “That journalism would inform citizens with the facts, and lead to ways in which to create a fairer, more equal and just society. Now more than ever that mission must be sustained with a new and more durable business model, which derives from that mission and sustains journalism in the future.