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Lisa Knutson Is a Purpose-Driven Leader

Scripps’ new chief operating officer is taking on challenges and driving change.

by Sarah M. Mullins

Media guru and financial expert Lisa Knutson is no stranger to taking on a new role and transforming a business division. In fact, she’s been the resident changemaker at E.W. Scripps, one of the nation’s largest local TV broadcasters, for more than 17 years. In January, the downtown-based public company announced a restructuring and reorganization with Knutson taking the reins of local media and Scripps Networks efforts in a new chief operating officer position.

Knutson is immersing herself in the business units. “We’re really in what I would call the discovery phase of understanding how businesses have evolved the last several years,” she says. “We are diligently working to make sure that we’re achieving the objectives we set out to achieve through this restructure, but also honor and support our mission of supporting journalism across the country while looking for ways we can be more efficient, more effective, and more nimble.”

Knutson was born and raised in Cincinnati and graduated from Miami University, which led to her first job in public accounting. She moved up the ranks in her career at Arthur Andersen, worked for a startup, and served as a Fifth Third Bank vice president before joining Scripps in 2005, where she’s served as chief strategy officer and chief administrative officer. Under her leadership, Scripps more than doubled its number of local market TV stations and acquired national broadcast network ION Media in a $2.65-billion deal. The company owns 61 stations in 41 U.S. markets and has almost 70 million viewers per month across eight networks, including ION, which is the largest.

Scripps recently launched its TV stations and the Scripps Network on free ad-supported “over-the-air” television, which is accessible with a digital antenna. “People may or may not know or remember that you can plug in a digital antenna and in some markets get up to 30 television stations for free,” says Knutson. “Especially in a climate like we are today with inflation and a potential recession, free is a compelling value proposition. We’re working to meet the consumer where they are and where they want to watch.”

Knutson was honored in 2022 by MultiChannel News as a “Wonder Woman” for high-performing women executives in TV, streaming, and advertising, and in 2021 by Cynopsis Media as one of its “Top Women in Media.”

“I always say I’m motivated by challenge, change, and purpose,” she says. “I love leading change, and I love a challenge. Working at Scripps added a third lens through which I really make my decisions: purpose. The role we play in our communities in the U.S. in terms of giving people news information and being a watchdog is something I’m very committed to as a leader.”