Look for Douglas McCorkindale to burnish his rep as a savvy dealmaker when he becomes CEO of Gannett, owner of USA Today and 73 other dailies. The 29-year Gannett veteran will succeed John Curley on June 1 and become chairman next year when Curley gives up that title.
With Gannett's free cash flow this year running at about $800 million, McCorkindale, 60, could add to the Arlington (Va.) media giant's highly profitable portfolio of regional papers and TV stations, says analyst Peter Appert of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. Possibilities include newspapers owned by Thomson and New York Times Co.
McCorkindale may also do some shopping in cyberspace. Gannett recently agreed to invest $270 million in ZapMedia.com, an Atlanta developer of TV set-top boxes that let users download movies and music off the Net. Says Appert: "Given the carnage in Internet land, there's ample opportunity for traditional media companies like Gannett to pick up the pieces."