Daisy Veerasingham has been named the new president and CEO of The Associated Press, the news organization announced Tuesday. The appointment is history-making: Veerasingham will be the first woman, first person of color and first international citizen to lead the organization.
Veerasingham, a 51-year-old first-generation British national of Sri Lankan descent, has been with The Associated Press for 17 years. She will succeed retiring AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt and will start on Jan. 1, 2022.
“The importance of AP as an unbiased, factual news source cannot be overstated – our journalism reaches more than half the world’s population every day,” Veerasingham said in a written statement. “I am thrilled to take the helm of this deeply respected news organization and work with colleagues who do extraordinary work every day in support of our mission. Gary has been a true champion of mine along the way, and I sincerely appreciate his support.”
Veerasingham’s responsibilities will include diversifying income sources, according to an AP story about her new position. She and Pruitt are also working to find a successor for Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor who in May was named the new executive editor of The Washington Post.
The announcement credits Veerasingham with growing revenue and diversifying the news agency’s customer base, especially internationally. She also led the transformation of AP’s video business. She joined AP in 2004 as sales director for AP Television News in London, later becoming vice president of sales for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.
In a statement, Steven R. Swartz, chairman of the AP Board of Directors and president and CEO of Hearst, described Veerasingham as a “proven leader with a deep understanding of how AP operates and a clear vision for the future.”
Pruitt said this feels like the right time to pass the baton.
“There is no better person to lead AP into its next chapter than Daisy, with whom I’ve worked closely over the past decade,” he said in a statement. “With her experience, judgment and values, Daisy will be a terrific leader of the AP.”
Veerasingham’s earned congratulations on Twitter. Anna Johnson, AP’s news director for Europe and Africa, tweeted “This is such great news for @AP! Congratulations to Daisy Veerasingham! She is the first woman, first person of color and first person from outside of the US to lead the AP in its 175-year history.” Lisa Matthews, an AP U.S. video assignment manager, called it “wonderful breaking news” and described Veerasingham as a “true trailblazer.”
The AP was founded by American newspapers and has traditionally been controlled by them as reflected by the makeup of their board of directors. Over time, its broadcast, data and especially international businesses have grown bigger as newspapers have shrunk. Veerasingham’s appointment reflects that.
Correction: This article was updated to reflect that the AP is not owned by its newspaper members. Additional reporting by Rick Edmonds.