NEW YORK -- Tom Curley, the top executive at the Associated Press, told staff Monday that the "moment has come for AP to begin a transition to a new leader."
Curley, who holds the titles of president and CEO, said in a letter that he will retire this year and that the AP's board of directors has formed a search committee for his successor.
In 2003, Curley joined the AP from USA Today, becoming only the 12th person to lead the 166-year-old news juggernaut. He'll remain on the job until a successor is found to run the organization, which employs over 3,700 people worldwide.
In the letter, obtained by The Huffington Post, Curley thanked staffers for encouraging him "to take whatever steps necessary to meet the challenges of the digital era."
"You embraced new ideas and helped transform the way news gets reported, how stories are told and distributed and how we do business," Curley wrote. "You did all that while burnishing AP's reputation as the definitive source for news."
Curley also addressed the battles fought in journalism over the past nine years, including those "for accountability by elected and appointed leaders, for the protection of content often obtained at personal price or for leading the evolution in how the public is informed."
"I have enjoyed the fight, and been grateful for your inspired support," Curley wrote. "No place is better equipped to continue it than AP."
Curley's announcement comes just over a week after he led a delegation to open the AP's bureau in North Korea, a first among western news organizations.
Read the full memo:
Subject: Message from Tom Curley
Monday, Jan. 23, 2012
Dear AP Staff:
The moment has come for AP to begin a transition to a new leader. I have told the board of directors that I wish to retire this year, and the board has formed a committee to find a successor. I will stay until one is found, and do everything in my power to facilitate a smooth change. A copy of the press release that will go out today is attached.
Leaving AP will be very hard. I discovered the joy and potential of journalism as a teenager, and I know well there is no better place to practice journalism and appreciate what journalists do than at AP. Being able to work with all of you has been the consummate privilege. We likely will be working together for months, and I will savor every day and do everything I can to keep AP moving forward competitively, as it must.
When I arrived in 2003, you encouraged me to take whatever steps necessary to meet the challenges of the digital era. You embraced new ideas and helped transform the way news gets reported, how stories are told and distributed and how we do business. You did all that while burnishing AP’s reputation as the definitive source for news.
What I have celebrated the most in recent years is how many of you from around the world so obviously value and trust each other’s work. The passion for AP’s mission shows regardless of the complexities or even dangers of the day’s assignments. The times I have spent with you in the field have been the most fulfilling of my career. You know how to laugh against the pressure of incredible deadlines or in the face of hardships. Whether launching products, revolutionizing
platforms or breaking news, you have come together as a formidable team. It shows in your incredible achievements.
The battles we have fought – for accountability by elected and appointed leaders, for the protection of content often obtained at personal price or for leading the evolution in how the public is informed – will require your vigilance long after I leave. I have enjoyed the fight, and been grateful for your inspired support. No place is better equipped to continue it than AP.
While these are turbulent times in media, AP is in a good place to make a transition. Our biggest projects, including new technology platforms and creative new products, will start rolling out over the next weeks. Nearly all major contracts are signed. We have one of the most tested and innovative management teams in media. And we are fortunate to be guided by a board composed of savvy leaders thoroughly committed to extending AP’s mission and upholding its values.
After 166 years, AP is on the cusp of new opportunities we couldn’t have imagined just a decade ago. I look forward to cheering your every success.
With deepest admiration,