Vice President of Journalism, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Brady was chair of the ISOJ 2022 panel “Recreating the local news ecosystem with new models, networking and collaboration.” Watch his presentation here.
Jim Brady is the Vice President of Journalism for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Brady, who joined Knight in August 2021, is a longtime digital media innovator whose experience ranges from leading major brands such as washingtonpost.com and Digital First Media to starting a company that built and sold local news sites in three cities.
Before his appointment at Knight, Brady served as CEO of Spirited Media, a consulting firm which launched and operated local news sites Billy Penn in Philadelphia, The Incline in Pittsburgh and Denverite in Denver before selling the businesses in 2019.
Prior to Spirited Media, Brady held a wide range of media executive roles, including Executive Editor of washingtonpost.com, Editor in Chief of Digital First Media, General Manager of TBD, Head of News and Sports for America Online and in various other roles. He also served as ESPN’s public editor from 2015-18.
Brady has spent 34 years in journalism, almost 27 of those in digital. He’s worked for legacy operations, digital-only companies and started his own company. He’s worked in print, broadcast and startup operations. He’s led editorial, product, technology and revenue teams. He’s been an intrapreneur and entrepreneur. He’s been through three mergers, three sales, two bankruptcies and dozens of reorganizations.
Before turning to consulting, Spirited’s well-regarded local sites provided traditional news coverage, but separated themselves with a more distinctive voice, strong curation model and a focus on mobile. In 2019, Spirited Media sold Denverite to Colorado Public Radio, The Incline to digital startup Whereby.us and Billy Penn to WHYY, Philadelphia’s iconic public radio station.
During Brady’s five-year tenure as executive editor of washingtonpost.com, the site won a national Emmy award for its Hurricane Katrina coverage, a Peabody Award for its “Being a Black Man” series, an Editor & Publisher award for Best Overall Newspaper-Affiliated Web Site, two Digital Edge awards for Best Overall News Site, a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, two Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Awards, four Edward R. Murrow Awards for Best Non-Broadcast Affiliated Web Site, and more than 100 White House News Photographers video awards. Brady was also on the original launch team of washingtonpost.com, serving as sports editor and then assistant managing editor for news from 1995 to 1999.
At Digital First Media, Brady was responsible for the overall strategy and management of the 75 daily newspapers, 292 non-daily publications and 341 online sites owned by Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group. He also built and managed the company’s Thunderdome unit, which was comprised of more than 50 digitally focused journalists charged with providing cutting-edge national content for DFM’s local properties.
During his time at AOL, Brady was in charge of the service’s coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2000 presidential election. In addition to his news role at AOL, Brady also served as Executive Director, Editorial Operations and Vice President, Production & Operations.
At TBD, Brady was charged with launching a new type of local digital news operation, one focused on building deeper relationships with consumers via a strong voice, heavy curation and personalized geographic content. In addition to overseeing the digital operation, Brady also ran NewsChannel8, Washington’s 24/7 local news cable television station.
In addition to these management positions, Brady has consulted work at Graham Media Group, WBEZ, Automattic/WordPress, The Guardian, the Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC and Politico.
Brady is a Past President of the Online News Association, and, in 2017, received the Rich Jaroslovsky Award for his long service to ONA. He currently serves on the boards of the News Media Alliance, American Press Institute and National Press Foundation and spend four years as a member of the Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board. He is also a two-time judge of the Pulitzer Prizes.
Brady earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Print Journalism from The American University in 1989, and 21 years later, won the school’s Alumni Achievement Award.
Born in New York City and raised in Huntington, N.Y., Brady lives with his wife, Joan, in the Washington D.C. area. They are inveterate road trippers, having done three 48-state tours of the United States with their dogs, the latter chronicled on the Fred and Hank Mark America blog. Brady also holds out hope that, someday, the Jets, Mets or Knicks will bring him some joy.