In a shocking announcement Monday, Laura Hollingsworth – a 29-year Gannett Company veteran – announced to her Tennessean newsroom staff she will be leaving the company for good in early February.
The Tennessean, for whom she as served as President for a year-and-a-half, published a glowing statement about her ouster:
Laura Hollingsworth, president of The Tennessean and the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee, is leaving the company, the longtime media executive announced on Monday in a newsroom address to all Tennessean employees.
A 29-year veteran of the Gannett Co., parent of The Tennessean and USA TODAY, Hollingsworth oversees business operations of Gannett organizations throughout the state. Her final day is Feb. 2.
“I am very grateful for my Gannett career which has taken me so many places and given me and my family so many things,” said Hollingsworth, who will continue to live in Nashville. “I simply feel this is the right time for me to explore what else I might do, where else I might have impact in new ways.”
Hollingsworth led during a period of disruption and rapid transformation in the media industry. During her tenure, The Tennessean renewed its emphasis on music coverage, expanded its health care coverage, greatly increased its community engagement, and became one of the company’s leaders in digital audience growth. In November, The Tennessean held a 50 percent share of the digital audience for news in the Nashville market, three times its closest competitor, according to comScore.
“More importantly,” she told staff, “we’ve delivered 24/7 impact.”
Hollingsworth believes deeply in community leadership. She serves on numerous boards, including the Middle Tennessee United Way, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Downtown Partnership and the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. She was on the operating board for Nashville’s NHL All-Star Game, is a graduate of Leadership Nashville, is a member of The Tennessean’s Editorial Board and also is completing a term as a board member for the national News Media Alliance as Gannett’s representative.
“Laura is deeply respected by so many people in this city. She believes passionately in our mission, in our journalism and in our people,” said Michael A. Anastasi, vice president and editor of The Tennessean.
“And she believes in Nashville.”
Hollingsworth rose from an entry-level sales representative for a small newspaper in her home state of Wisconsin to among the highest ranks of executive leadership in the nation’s largest media company, working in markets including Michigan, Washington state and Iowa.
Prior to coming to Nashville, she was president and publisher of the Des Moines Register and served as a regional group president with responsibility over more than two dozen sites throughout the country. With Gannett’s acquisition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Knoxville News Sentinel in 2016, Hollingsworth’s regional role shifted to full responsibility for Tennessee. During the last 18 months, she led the merger and integration of those sites into a statewide network.
“Leading The Tennessean and the Tennessee Network has been an incredible experience which I’ll always look to proudly and fondly,” Hollingsworth said. “Working for this company has been a tremendous experience and opportunity, all the way around.”