Sinclair Broadcast Group brings on John Solomon to lead resurrection of Circa News
Solomon has been VP for Content and Business Development The Washington Times, and before that infamous for articles penned while at the AP and The Washington Post
The rumor that Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) was soon to announce the resurrection of Circa, the digital news site/app, has proved to be true (see announcement below). To run it, SBG has pegged John Solomon, who has been VP for content and business development at The Washington Times.
SBG bought the assets of Circa for less than $1 million – there really was not much there other than a name, and possibly a small database (that’s my guess, anyway). Now, the company plans to hire around 70 journalists and invest $9 million to create a right-wing Vox.com, according to the WSJ. There is a Presidential election next year so who knows what kind of swiftboating the company plans for Hillary Clinton. But one can be sure that this election cycle is about to get really dirty.
The announcement below is strictly about the hiring of Solomon, who is about as controversial as they come. Solomon started out at the AP, then at the Post quickly gained notoriety for stories that seemed to want to want to be bigger than the reporting merited.
“Like NFL coaches who always seem to land with another team no matter how many bad decisions they make, some reporters are able to churn out a steady stream of mediocrity, with little consequence,” the Columbia Journalism Review wrote of Solomon in 2007.
But this is unfair, Solomon isn’t being hire to be a journalist. SBG needs a hitman, and it is hard to see who better fits the bill.
- October 15, 2012: Circa is the “news, reimagined” as a crashing app
- October 16, 2012: Update: Circa News works outs some of its app problems, new iPhone news app now functioning for most users
- April 25, 2014: John Maloney named president of mobile news startup Circa
- September 24, 2014: Circa News updates both iOS and Android apps
- June 24, 2015: Circa News says ‘farewell’ as funding runs out for personal news wire service
Here is SBG’s announcement for the hiring of John Solomon:
Baltimore, MD – December 7, 2015 – Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. announces the launch of “Circa,” an independent digital news site aimed at the new generation, and the hiring of John Solomon as Chief Creative Officer. Mr. Solomon, who most recently served as Vice President for Content and Business Development for The Washington Times, is a recognized talent who started his career at the age of 20 as a reporter for The Associated Press and two years later became the wire service’s youngest news editor.
“As the largest producer of local news content in the country, our mission is to build on the legitimate news enterprise we have created, evolve how we connect with consumers and address changing news consumption habits,” commented David Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sinclair. “John, an award-winning journalist with an extensive history in news reporting, editorial and management positions, is the most qualified to lead this initiative, and we are thrilled to have his vote of confidence in our strategy by overseeing the venture.”
Circa, expected to re-launch in the Spring of 2016, will remain an independent organization, funded by Sinclair and other potential investors. Its foundation will be built upon the intellectual =property and technology of Circa News, the assets of which the Company acquired in August of 2015 for $0.8 million. Circa News was a well-known online site admired for its ability to break down news stories to core, easy-to-follow components. In business for three years, Circa News reached 300,000 unique mobile users at its peak.
“We decided to purchase the Circa brand and reader-friendly, patented technology, rather than take years to build ourselves,” stated Rob Weisbord, VP and Chief Operating Officer of Sinclair’s Digital Group. “The Circa app will be re-designed, re-imagined and re-launched as one of the most innovative news gathering, reporting and audience-building digital platforms.”
“Delivering original news content on mobile platforms is becoming increasingly important, especially in engaging the next generation of news readers who value raw content, differing perspectives and personalization,” commented John Solomon. “Circa’s focus will be on issues trending from around the country, delivered in an independent-minded style, with a heavy focus on short and long form video, optimized for mobile and social media engagement.”
Solomon continued, “More people consume news today than at any time in history. For Circa, this means that reporting needs to become four-dimensional and interactive. I’m excited to lead this unprecedented opportunity to connect digital readers with a vast network of local television news resources to deliver a world-class news product designed to meet the needs of the younger