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Fox succeeds Howell as publisher of Beacon Communications

By RORY SCHULER

Joy Fox will succeed John Howell as publisher of Beacon Communications.

“John has been at the helm for five decades,” Fox said Wednesday morning. “He has seen these communities change and grow. And John isn’t going anywhere.’

Howell, the longtime owner and publisher of Beacon Communications, announced today that plans are in the works for Fox to become his successor as the leader of the trusted source for community journalism in Warwick, Cranston, Johnston and beyond.

Beacon Communications publishes three weekly newspapers in Rhode Island – the Warwick Beacon, Cranston Herald and Johnston SunRise – and a weekly shopping guide, The Reminder.

Howell remains editor of the Warwick Beacon, a position he has held since purchasing the paper in 1969.

“This is clearly a pivotal moment for local newspapers,” Fox said Tuesday, shortly before she and Howell broke the news to Beacon Communications staff. “Community news will remain our priority and our focus moving forward. I think these newspapers are such a part of the fabric of these communities, not just from a news perspective, but from a local business perspective.”

Howell passed the torch to Fox during a brief editorial meeting Wednesday morning, as the SunRise and Beacon newspapers were on deadline.

“It’s no secret, here or anywhere, that community newspapers are facing an uphill climb financially,” Fox said. “I look forward to really connecting with our communities and making sure these newspapers are still around in 50 to 60 years.”

Fox has cousins ​​who live in the Beacon Communications readership. She said she hopes that in half a century they will still have copies of the Warwick Beacon, Cranston Herald and Johnston SunRise to read every week.

The ultimate goal of the newspapers, under Fox’s leadership, will be to “reach a larger audience and more people” than ever before.

Richard Fleischer, retired chief executive of Beacon Communications, joined Howell and Fox to make the announcement in the newsroom Wednesday.

“I’ve been working for John for fifty years,” Fleischer recalls. They have been business partners and close confidantes. He said that, had it not been for recent medical problems, including two back surgeries, “John would still be taking his crazy boat out into the middle of Narragansett Bay to avoid icebergs.”

But perhaps the only thing Howell holds dearer than rowing is the Warwick Beacon, Fleischer told employees.

Howell promised to the newsroom that Beacon Communications would “always remain locally owned,” and that he would not sell the papers to a major news conglomerate.

“I’m not leaving,” Howell assured his staff. “However, I don’t expect it to take me another 52 years.”

While Howell is used to getting up at 6:30 a.m. to row across the bay, he has spent the past few months flat on his back staring at a computer screen, but his focus remains on local reporting and community engagement the community.

A Cranston native and Warwick resident, Fox began her career in print and television journalism and has long had a deep passion for quality local news and storytelling. The former editor and leader of the Herald, with a long track record in the public sector, will also continue to lead strategic communications consultancy Clarendon Group, which was founded in 2000 by Christine Heenan.

Howell has known Fox since she was in high school at St. Mary Academy – Bay View. The Cranston resident first entered the Beacon newsroom as a once-a-week intern reporter for the Warwick Beacon.

Six years later, she returned to serve as a reporter and editor of the Cranston Herald from 2001 to 2003, where she covered September 11 and the Station Nightclub Fire, as well as hundreds of city council and school committee meetings, countless school events and small business openings. .

“I am excited about Joy’s commitment to Rhode Island,” Howell noted. “She has clearly worked in various government positions, knows the people and understands the importance of local news.”

Fox’s time in journalism also included stints at Providence Business News and NBC10 before moving to government and small business. She served as director of communications for Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo during her time as Treasurer and Governor of the United States. She has worked as a senior advisor to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and has been a small business owner for the past few years. She is currently the CEO of Clarendon Group and chair of the board of directors of Sophia Academy, an all-girls high school in Providence. She was a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District in 2022.

“I think something special is happening here,” Fox told Beacon Communications staff. “I think we can put all the right pieces in place.”