Set to Launch Digital News Site Circa, Sinclair Taps John Solomon as COO

Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Monday the launch of independent digital news site “Circa” and the appointment of John Solomon as chief creative officer.

Solomon, an award-winning journalist who at 22 became The Associated Press’ youngest news editor, had been VP of content and business development for The Washington Times, making the newspaper profitable for the first time in 33 years.

“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, Sinclair president and CEO. “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, an independent organization supported by Sinclair and other potential investors, is slated to relaunch in the spring. Geared to the new generation, the site will take the intellectual property and technology of Circa News, the online site whose assets Sinclair acquired in August.

“We decided to purchase the Circa brand and reader-friendly, patented technology, rather than take years to build ourselves,” said Rob Weisbord, Sinclair VP and chief operating officer. “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.”

Circa, located in Washington, D.C. and Seattle with news bureaus in New York and Los Angeles, will have an operating expense budget, net of revenues, of about $9 million in its first year.

“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,” 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.”