Times Company’s Longtime PR Chief, Catherine Mathis, is Out

Catherine Mathis, the New York Times Company’s soft-spoken and long-serving chief of public relations, is leaving the company to go to Standard & Poor’s after 12 years.

It’s been a turbulent year for the Times, even in a turbulent decade, and in a memo announcing her departure the company admitted that she has “served as the chief communications strategist and spokesperson through some of the most challenging chapters in our history.”

Internally, the Times had begun holding meetings where reporters and editors asked whether anything was to be done about the tide of negative coverage about the newspaper’s financial position and its business strategies; the newspaper had already begun a strategy of deploying top company office-holders to respond directly to criticism of the company on the Web and elsewhere, including pitching in to the tips section of Gawker.com to deflate speculation about the future of the business.

Here is Times Company CEO Janet Robinson’s memo:

With truly mixed emotions, I am writing to inform you that Catherine Mathis, senior vice president, corporate communications, has decided to take a new position as the senior vice president and head of Marketing & Communications for Standards & Poor’s, a McGraw-Hill Company, and will be leaving at the end of August.

Catherine has been with the Company for twelve years and has served as the chief communications strategist and spokesperson through some of the most challenging chapters in our history.  She has been a source of strength to me, our leadership team and her colleagues throughout the organization. She was always on duty, actively involved in managing the
reputation of The Times brand, a major accomplishment, given the massive amount of coverage The Times Company generates on a daily basis.

 For all that and much more, everyone at The New York Times Company is grateful to Catherine for her innumerable contributions and wishes her the best of luck.

Ethan Riegelhaupt, the Company’s vice president for speechwriting and internal communications, will be taking over our corporate communications department on an interim basis, pending future personnel and administrative