An executive with nearly 30 years of newspaper experience and an expertise in digital media has been named president and publisher of The Modesto Bee.
Ken Riddick, a McClatchy Co. veteran whose work with the company dates back to 1995, will begin work June 9, leaving his current position as regional vice president of digital media and marketing for The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer and The Herald in Rock Hill, S.C.
“Ken is a seasoned media executive ... who offers a terrific blend of digital and print experience acquired at a variety of papers throughout the United States,” said Bob Weil, vice president of operations of The McClatchy Co., The Bee’s parent company. “Ken has been a tremendous asset for both McClatchy and our industry. We’re thrilled to bring such an accomplished and talented executive to the publisher’s job in Modesto.”
Riddick, 57, replaces Eric Johnston, who left in March for a position at a Seattle-based newspaper company.
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Riddick’s first position with McClatchy was with The Fresno Bee in 1995 as a photo editor. He served as that paper’s director of interactive media from 1999 to 2003.
He moved to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2003, then under McClatchy ownership, where he was senior vice president of interactive media for Minnesota’s largest daily newspaper.
In 2007, Riddick went to work for Hearst Newspapers as vice president of digital media. In that role, he directed the digital operations of 15 newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He rejoined McClatchy in 2010 as the top digital executive at The Charlotte Observer.
“I think he’s the perfect choice for us, someone who has a vision for the future of the business in print and online,” said Joe Kieta, The Bee’s editor and senior vice president. “Our combined print and digital audience has grown the last couple of years, and I see him helping that and coming up with even better products and ways to reach people.”
Riddick said he plans to spend his first weeks at The Bee reacquainting himself with the San Joaquin Valley and learning from his employees and from community members.
“I’ll ask a lot for questions and sometimes challenge the way we think, not necessarily because I disagree with it but because it’s important to step back and look at things in a different direction,” he said.
Originally from Texas, Riddick holds a journalism degree from the University of Texas.
He and his wife, Catherine, also a journalist, are accustomed to their careers taking them to different places. They have lived in eight cities during their 25 years of marriage.
“I’m thrilled, I’m humbled, I’m excited; you just can’t imagine the range of emotions from me,” Riddick said. “This is kind of coming full circle for Cathy and I. We spent the formative years of our careers in the Valley and we did some of our best work, we did some of our most memorable work, we made some of our best friends and professional colleagues in the Valley. We love the area, we love the climate and we love the people; we are just thrilled.”