published Friday, July 18th, 2014

Taylor leaving Times Free Press

Jason Taylor, who has served as president and general manager of the Chattanooga Times Free Press since 2007, is leaving the newspaper for a position with the Gannett Co.

Taylor, 39, today was appointed president and publisher of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger and East Group regional president.

“This is a bittersweet day for me because I am so honored to have led this paper over the past seven years,” Taylor said.

Nat Lea, president of WEHCO Media, which owns the Times Free Press, thanked Taylor for his service.

“He has worked tirelessly to ensure that Times Free Press remains the source in Chattanooga for news and a powerful outlet for advertisers,” Lea said.

Lea said the search for Taylor's replacement will start immediately.

Jeff Jeffus, president of WEHCO Newspapers, will be active in the transition process, spending as much time as needed in Chattanooga until a replacement is named.

Taylor led the Times Free Press during a time of change in the newspaper industry.

He oversaw the paper’s shift to more digital content and to a model of paid online subscriptions. He expanded the company’s portfolio, which now includes the daily newspaper; six weekly community newspapers; a Spanish weekly paper; three magazines; creative advertising services; and a digital agency that offers marketing, website design and search engine optimization.

During Taylor’s tenure, the paper also branched into events management and produces expos for brides, women, children, seniors, high school athletic stars and reader-selected “best of the best” winners in the region. The expos draw thousands of people and garnered national attention for the newspaper.

Last November, the Times Free Press hosted 60 representatives from other newspapers around the globe to learn from Chattanooga’s record of growing market share, engaging new customers and producing events.

During Taylor’s tenure, the Times Free Press topped the 2014 list of Editor & Publisher magazine’s “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” list and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and 2014.

Taylor came to the Times Free Press in 2007 from the Honolulu Advertiser, where he served as senior vice president/sales. That paper was owned at the time by Gannett Co., which owns the Clarion-Ledger. Taylor was recognized as the 2006 executive of the year among the Gannett Co.’s 96 daily newspapers. He received that company’s Chairman’s Award in 2006 and 2007.

Prior to Honolulu, Taylor was employed with Georgia-based Morris Multimedia Inc., serving as general manager for The Times in Gainesville, Ga. He also was director of advertising and marketing for The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Taylor said he and his family will miss Chattanooga.

“I am so grateful to this community for embracing me and my family,” he said. “I never dreamed leaving anywhere would be harder than Hawaii but this is tenfold. Great things are happening in Chattanooga and at the newspaper. I'm excited to watch the future of both.”

Lea said the newspaper is positioned for a bright future. He pointed out that the company has invested in a new press, which is being installed.

“I believe that Chattanooga is on a great path and that the Times Free Press will both benefit from and contribute substantially to the future of Chattanooga,” he said.

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