BALTIMORE—Sinclair Broadcast Group is relaunching “Circa,” formerly Circa News, as an independent digital news site aimed at the upcoming generation. John Solomon has been hired as chief creative officer. Solomon, who most recently served as vice president for Content and Business Development for The Washington Times, 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,” said David Smith, president and CEO 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, which Sinclair acquired in August for $800,000. Circa News used an algorithm to break down news stories to core 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,” said Rob Weisbord, vice president and chief operating officer of Sinclair’s Digital Group. “The Circa app will be redesigned, reimagined and relaunched as one of the most innovative newsgathering, reporting and audience-building digital platforms.”
John Solomon said, “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. More people consume news today than at any time in history. For Circa, this means that reporting needs to become four-dimensional and interactive.”
Located in Washington D.C. and Seattle, with news bureaus in New York and Los Angeles, Circa’s first year operating expense budget, net of revenues, is approximately $9 million as the organization is built, resources hired, the brand launched and its following established.
Solomon most recently was editor and vice president for Content and Business Development for The Washington Times, where he helped guide a money-losing newspaper to its first profitability in 33 years. His reporting and editing has exposed the failure of school districts to keep convicted child molesters from returning to classrooms, highlighted the federal government’s use of unwitting foster children and military veterans in dangerous drug experiments, stopped the FBI’s use of a bogus science to convict defendants and unmasked how much the government knew about impending terror threats prior to Sept. 11, 2001 but failed to act upon.
After starting in college as a sports reporter for United Press International, he worked for two decades at the AP wire service as a reporter, news editor, multimedia investigative editor and assistant Washington Bureau chief until joining the Washington Post in 2007 as its national investigative reporter. He has also served as executive editor for the Center for Public Integrity and Director of News for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
In addition, Mr. Solomon is the Author of “DSK: The Scandal That Brought Down Dominique Strauss-Kahn,” February 2012. Harper Collins. He is also president of the Packard Media Group LLC, since 2009. Mr. Solomon graduated magna cum laude from Marquette University with a B.A. in Journalism.