Vox.com co-founder Melissa Bell will lead Chicago Public Media

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James Bareham

Former Vox Media publisher Melissa Bell will replace Matt Moog as CEO of Chicago Public Media

Bell, who co-founded Vox.com in 2014 and became publisher of parent company Vox Media in 2016, will take the helm at CPM Sept. 3. Moog announced in December that he would step down from his role. 

Bell said in a news release that there is an “urgent necessity” to strengthen public media’s role in communities. 

“There is a declining trust, and more worrisome, a declining interest in news at a critical time in Chicago and for our country,” Bell said. “There are challenges facing CPM, but they are not insurmountable. In fact, there is so much potential that comes from the collaboration between WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times.”

Her role at Vox Media included overseeing Eater, The Verge and SB Nation, the release said. She was also involved in the merger of Vox Media with New York Magazine and its brands. 

Bell has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Chicago, according to the release. She left Vox Media’s daily management last year and went on to be a visiting fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.

The announcement follows unions representing CPM and Sun-Times employees announcing earlier this month a vote of no confidence in Moog. In April, CPM laid off 14 employees, citing a slowdown in revenue.  

Moog responded to the union’s vote in a LinkedIn post.

“After fifteen years of service to the organization as a Board member and CEO, it saddens me to be personally attacked for taking the necessary and responsible steps to reduce expenses to offset the financial impact of declining broadcast and print audiences,” he wrote. 

CPM Board Chair Robert Pasin said in the release that CPM became a national model for the future of local news under Moog, who started as CEO in 2020. 

“The landmark acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times helped to expand our reach and enhance our journalistic capabilities,” Pasin said. “Moog’s dedication and strategic vision have been instrumental in strengthening Chicago Public Media as a leader in public service journalism.”

Executive recruitment firm Koya Partners collaborated in the national search, the release said.

“Melissa brings an incredible depth of experience as a media executive and publisher, a product leader and as a reporter,” Pasin said in the release. “With her proven, visionary leadership and collaborative approach, Melissa will bring tremendous expertise and a strong track record of success to help Chicago Public Media develop a sustainable model for high-quality local journalism in the digital age.”

CPM is not the only public media station to announce a new CEO this month. Oregon Public Broadcasting said that CNN’s Rachel Smolkin would replace Steve Bass as the station’s leader. 

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