McClatchy President Gary B. Pruitt, who has led the company that owns The Island Packet, The Beaufort Gazette and 29 other newspapers for 16 years, is leaving to take the top post at the Associated Press.
McClatchy's chief financial officer, Patrick J. Talamantes, was named president and chief executive officer. Kevin McClatchy, a fifth-generation member of the family that controls the company, will be chairman of the board.
Pruitt, 54, who has led the company during a period of great expansion, including the acquisition of Knight Ridder newspapers, will join the worldwide news cooperative as chief executive. The changes are effective May 16.
McClatchy's board of directors divided the company leadership roles in two, choosing a family member and businessman as chairman and McClatchy's current vice president and top financial officer as executive of the company of 7,800 employees.
"I will always take great pride in all that we accomplished at McClatchy over the years," Pruitt said, "particularly maintaining our commitment to high-quality journalism, seeing the tremendous growth of our digital business and all of the financial progress this company has made in recent years."
Talamantes, 47, joined the company 11 years ago to oversee financial operations. Over time, his responsibilities grew to include information technology, real estate holdings and McClatchy's Florida newspapers, The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Bradenton Herald.
"I'm grateful for the support of the McClatchy family and the Board of Directors," said Talamantes, the company's seventh CEO. "We have some of the most talented, hardworking and innovative employees in the news business. Together, we will work to carry out this company's 155-year-old mission of providing community service and quality journalism."
Kevin McClatchy is a former managing general partner and executive of Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates and has been on the McClatchy board since 1998. He worked in sales roles at both the Sacramento Bee and Miami Herald before his executive post in baseball.
"We will be forever grateful for Gary's leadership and service to the company," McClatchy said.
"Gary is a visionary and a dynamic and talented chief executive who led McClatchy's transformation into the third-largest newspaper company in the United States -- one with a thriving, robust digital business prepared for the 21st century. The Associated Press is lucky to have him, and we wish Gary all the best in his adventures ahead."