Charlie Weaver, the digital and creative director at the Iowa State Daily student newspaper, was officially announced as the future president, publisher and CEO of Emerald Media Group following an Emerald Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
Weaver was one of two candidates selected as finalists in the Emerald’s search to replace current president Ryan Frank, who will begin a new job as the political editor of the Las Vegas Sun on March 31. A University of Oregon alumn and former Emerald editor, Frank has led the student media company for the last three years, most notably through a digital “Revolution,” from a daily print publication to a digitally focused news organization in September of 2012.
It was that Revolution that sparked Weaver’s interest.
“I’ve been following the Emerald now for the last five to six years, and more specifically for the last three years once they kicked off the Revolution, and was just really excited about their changes and the approach The Emerald was taking toward college media and really wanted to be a part of it,” Weaver said.
Weaver’s selection was the culmination of a nearly year-long replacement process that Frank likens to a “courtship” of sorts. Frank and the Emerald board recruited candidates who they believed demonstrated a strong understanding of college media, a penchant for innovation, leadership skills, energy and passion for journalism as a pillar of civil service in a stable democracy.
“You start to stack these things on top of each other, and the keyhole — someone who has some, or all of these components — is a really narrow keyhole,” Frank said. “As we went around looking for people who fit those requirements, you start to notice that the pool gets really shallow.”
Of 20 applicants, two candidates were finalized and evaluated by three Emerald search committees comprised of students, professional staff and a panel of board members. Finalists were flown to campus to meet with staff members and present their business plans. Both received audience evaluations, however the final decision was left up to a vote by the Emerald board.
Peter Milliron, chair of the Emerald’s Board of Directors, is positive that Wednesday’s board decision secured the brightest possible future of the Emerald. His certainty stems largely from the student feedback encouraged by the unique selection process crafted by Frank in which students and professional staff were given multiple opportunities to express their opinions on the two candidates.
“We wanted someone who had good business sense, who understood college media and who had a strong journalism background and we believe that in Charlie we found all of those things,” Milliron said. “I know that the entire board of directors feels strongly that we made a better decision, not only because of what Ryan did in helping us through the process but also because students and staff helped us understand what was important for them.”
Weaver has worked at the Iowa State Daily newspaper since 2001, when he started as a student designer. After graduating as a nontraditional student in 2005, he secured a spot on the professional staff as the design director. Admittedly, he’s hooked on college media.
“Once you’ve participated in a college media organization it’s in your blood. It’s there for life,” Weaver said. “It would take a lot to get me to even think about quitting my job at the Daily because I love the students, I love what I do and it’s a huge passion of mine. But this is an amazing opportunity that I really want to take a shot at.”
At the Emerald, he hopes to capitalize on opportunities presented by the Venture Department — the Emerald’s new creative funding agency — and help inspire innovative methods of improving the financial stability, breadth and impact of student journalism efforts.
The Iowa native will begin his career in the Pacific Northwest no later than May 1, 2014. Though Weaver admits it’s a daunting transition to pack up everything he’s familiar with and relocate his life, he’s excited for the change.
Perpetual motion is a personal philosophy that he shares with the Emerald.
“There’s always room for improvement, there’s always room to try something new and there’s always reasons to take risks. The interesting thing about the Emerald is that you have cultivated a culture that is okay with that — taking risks, taking chances, not afraid to be out in front,” he said. “My goal, my mission is to maintain and foster that culture into the future.”