David Zeeck leaving The News Tribune after 24 years as publisher and executive editor

David Zeeck
David Zeeck

David Zeeck is leaving The News Tribune next month after 24 years at the paper, the last 10 as publisher.

The McClatchy Co., which owns The News Tribune, made the announcement Tuesday. Zeeck also serves as publisher of The Olympian and The Bellingham Herald and oversees the daily print and digital business operations of the community weeklies in Gig Harbor and Puyallup.

“I’ve loved every day leading The News Tribune, The Olympian and The Bellingham Herald, and I’ve given all I’ve got to the cause of local journalism,” Zeeck said in a McClatchy news release. “I feel that the time is right to reflect and pick the next challenge. It’s time for someone else to take over and to finish the transition to a digital media future.”

Zeeck was The News Tribune’s executive editor for 14 years before being named publisher.

Rebecca Poynter will replace Zeeck. She is the vice president of local sales for McClatchy’s West Region and serves as publisher of The Idaho Statesman and also oversees The Tri-City Herald. She will add Zeeck’s responsibilities to her portfolio Jan. 14.

Before coming to Tacoma, Zeeck spent 20 years at The Kansas City Star as a reporter and editor. At the Star, he was a supervising editor on projects that won Pulitzer prizes for local and national reporting.

“We’re grateful to David for his strong leadership, contributions and vision over the past quarter century,” Gary Wortel, West Regional publisher for McClatchy, said in the news release. “He is highly respected among colleagues across McClatchy, throughout our industry and in his local community.”

Zeeck has served in leadership roles across the Pierce County community and newspaper industry.

He is past president of the American Society of Newspapers Editors and was appointed to the University of Washington’s Board of Regents in January 2018.

Zeeck formerly served as chair of the advisory board for the University of Washington Tacoma and is a past chair and present member of the executive committee of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

He also is a member of the Executive Council for a Greater Tacoma and was the founder of, and represents The News Tribune as a partner in, the South Sound Together organization.

He also is a board member and past president of two regional industry organizations: Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association and Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington.

“Having worked with Dave in both Kansas City and Tacoma, I’m grateful to have had him as a mentor and a friend for many years,” said Dale Phelps, executive editor of The News Tribune. “One of the things he emphasizes most is that the newspaper should have an affection for the people it serves. His work as both the editor and the publisher here has served as an example of how to put that philosophy into action.”

Zeeck received an MBA from Rockhurst University in Kansas City and a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri. He is married to Valarie S. Zeeck, a partner in a Tacoma law firm. They have two grown sons and one daughter-in-law.

Rebecca Poynter, currently publisher of the Idaho Statesman, will take over as publisher of The News Tribune.

Poynter has two decades of industry experience, including at media outlets in Michigan and Kentucky.

“Rebecca will continue to drive digital transformation, connect with local businesses and bolster growth of the five markets she now leads,” according to the McClatchy news release.

“I’m looking forward to building on the solid foundation David Zeeck leaves in Washington,” she said in the release. “With this move, we have an opportunity to better connect our properties in the Northwest. These are vibrant, expanding markets served by talented teams of journalists and salespeople.

“Maximizing our resources across the Northwest will allow us to better serve these communities, and to grow local journalism and local businesses together.”