Sinclair Launches "Circa"; Hires John Solomon As Chief Creative Officer

Dec 07, 2015, 09:09 ET from Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.

BALTIMORE, Dec. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) (the "Company") announces the launch of "Circa," an independent digital news site aimed at the new generation, and the hiring of John Solomon as Chief Creative Officer.  Mr. Solomon, who most recently served as Vice President for Content and Business Development for The Washington Times, is a recognized talent who 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.  Mr. Solomon, respected as an original thinker and serious investigative journalist, is known to produce balanced reports with reader appeal.

"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," commented David Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer 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, the assets of which the Company acquired in August of 2015 for $0.8 million.  Circa News was a well-known online site admired for its ability to break down news stories to core, easy-to-follow 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," 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."   

"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," commented John Solomon.  "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." 

Solomon continued, "More people consume news today than at any time in history.  For Circa, this means that reporting needs to become four-dimensional and interactive.  I'm excited to lead this unprecedented opportunity to connect digital readers with a vast network of local television news resources to deliver a world-class news product designed to meet the needs of the younger demographic."

Located in Washington D.C. and Seattle and having 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.

About John Solomon: Mr. Solomon has a renowned career in news, including serving since 2013 as Editor and VP for Content and Business Development for The Washington Times, where he helped guide a money-losing newspaper to its first profitability in 33 years.  Over the years, his award-winning 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.

Mr. Solomon is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including:

  • Society of Professional Journalists National Public Service Award. August 2009. Project: "Disposable Heroes."
  • Marquette University Alumni Association Byline Award for Lifelong Accomplishment in Journalism. April 2009.
  • Society of Professional Journalists National Investigative Award - TV. August 2008. Project: "Evidence of Injustice."
  • Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. May 2008. Project: "Evidence of Injustice."
  • Gramling Achievement Award. The Associated Press. June 2002.
  • Associated Press Managing Editors Association Enterprise Reporting Award. June 2002. Project: "What The FBI Knew Before Sept. 11, 2001."
  • Marquette University College of Communications Young Alumnus Award. May 1994.
  • Raymond Clapper Memorial Award. Second Place. May 1993. Project: "Ross Perot's secret dealings with the Nixon Administration."
  • Associated Press Managing Editors Association Enterprise Reporting Award. June 1989. Project "Teacher Molesters Return to Classroom."
  • Kappa Tau Alpha National Top Journalism Scholar. April 1988.

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 BA in Journalism.

About Sinclair: Sinclair is the largest and one of the most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country.  Including pending transactions, the Company owns, operates and/or provides services to 172 television stations in 81 markets, broadcasting 432 channels and having affiliations with all the major networks. Sinclair is the leading local news provider in the country, as well as a producer of sports content. Sinclair's broadcast content is delivered via multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms.  The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at

Forward-Looking Statements:

The matters discussed in this news release, include forward-looking statements regarding, among other things, future operating results.  When used in this news release, the words "outlook," "intends to," "believes," "anticipates," "expects," "achieves," "estimates," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.  Such statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties.  Actual results in the future could differ materially and adversely from those described in the forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including, but not limited to, any risk factors set forth in the Company's most recent reports on Form 10-Q, Form 10-K and Form 8-K, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  There can be no assurances that the assumptions and other factors referred to in this release will occur.  The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly release the result of any revisions to these forward-looking statements except as required by law.

SOURCE Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.