Freedom names interim CEO

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Freedom Communications Inc., parent company of the Clovis News Journal, Portales News-Tribune and Quay County Sun, named an interim CEO Wednesday, tapping the former publisher of The Dallas Morning News.

Burl Osborne will take over in July for Scott Flanders, who is leaving after 3 1/2 years in the job to lead a troubled Playboy Enterprises Inc., whose television and magazine businesses have been hit by shifting consumer habits in the digital era.

In a statement Wednesday, the chairman of Freedom’s board, Thomas Bassett, called Osborne an “exceptional leader who combines outstanding business acumen with depth of experience in the newspaper industry.”

Osborne, who has served on Freedom’s board as an independent director since 2004, is taking the helm as traditional media companies struggle with challenges brought on by the Internet and compounded by a long recession.

The company has announced cost-cutting measures this year including layoffs, unpaid furloughs and salary freezes.

The company publishes several dozen daily and weekly newspapers and operates a handful of television stations.

From 1980 to 2001, Osborne served as executive editor and later publisher of the Morning News, which is owned by A.H. Belo Corp. He served as chairman of The Associated Press board from 2002 to 2007.