It was less than two months ago that John Solomon, the reporter/editor/businessman/promotional wunderkind, was excited about a particular scoop in the pages of the Washington Times: “Washington Times reaches profitability after 33 years, $1 billion in losses,” read the headline on the story. A champagne celebration in the paper’s newsroom feted this milestone, and Solomon was prepared with the perfect quote: “I have often marveled at the dedication of The Times team, its ability to row together in the same direction even under challenging circumstances and to be motivated by a common vision that the ultimate credibility in journalism is to build a product good enough to pay for itself. Today that team finally hit its goal,” said Solomon in his dual capacity as editor and vice president of content and business development.
Good times, then, huh?
Maybe not so much.
Today, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that this same John Solomon would be serving as chief creative officer for the re-launch of Circa, an outfit whose assets Sinclair bought in August. Circa was a mobile-oriented news app that streamed update after update on big news events to users, until it ran out of money. It reached 300,000 unique mobile users at its peak, according to Sinclair.
“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.”
And here’s what Solomon says, also via the Sinclair release: “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. 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.”
But what about medium form video?
Circa will be working with an “operating expense budget” of $9 million, according to Sinclair; the outfit is located in D.C. and Seattle with bureaus in New York and Los Angeles.
If Sinclair needs someone to evangelize the world on behalf of Circa, it made a wise choice in Solomon, who is among journalism’s best at preaching the wonders and revolutionary developments at whatever organization he happens to be working for. And there have been many: UPI, AP, Washington Post, Washington Times (two stints at top positions), the Center for Public Integrity, Newsweek and the Daily Beast.
As to what happened with Solomon and the Washington Times, there’s no press release exploring all the wrinkles. We’ll make some inquiries.