Gordon Neil McLeod spent much of his 35-year career helping publishers of newspapers and magazines to develop an effective internet presence, including Newsday Media Group.
McLeod, who was publisher of Newsday and its sister commuter paper amNewYork for more than two years until July 2016, died Friday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. He was 60 and had battled cancer for nine years, his family said Monday.
McLeod came to Newsday as its 11th publisher in April 2014, after serving as president of The Wall Street Journal's digital network. He also had worked at Time Inc., leading Sports Illustrated’s website and launching a website and television operation for Parenting magazine.
“As publisher, Gordon led Newsday through a time marked by strategic innovation and impressive development of our digital business,” Newsday publisher Debby Krenek said. “Our hearts go out to his family.”
McLeod and his wife, Melanie Grisanti, were longtime supporters of the arts community in Sag Harbor, where they purchased a house in 1988. They also have a home in Manhattan.
“He was super proud of Newsday, incredibly proud of the journalism that came out,” said Grisanti, senior vice president of production management at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of the “Sesame Street” children’s television show.
“Long Island has always meant something to us. … Sag Harbor is the heart and soul of our family,” she said.
McLeod was born June 27, 1958 in Vancouver, British Columbia, the only son of Neil and Barbara Jay (Adams) McLeod. He moved to Washington state with his mother after his parents divorced. His mother later married Robert Cornelia.
McLeod excelled in school, graduating early from Redwood High School in Redwood, California, in 1976, and from the University of California-Berkeley in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in political economy, Grisanti said. He received a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1983.
“He’s such a student, always wanting to learn,” Grisanti said. “He was always talking about the next thing, whether it be machine learning or artificial intelligence.”
McLeod met Grisanti in 1986 while both were working for a political and media strategy firm, the Sawyer/Miller Group in Manhattan. They soon left to start their own advertising and production company, Grisanti-McLeod, in Manhattan.
The couple married in 1989 and have two daughters, Grace and Jane, both of Manhattan and Sag Harbor.
While at Newsday, McLeod served on the board of directors of the Long Island Association business group “with class and distinction,” said LIA president Kevin Law. He added that McLeod “helped us develop priorities to make our region a better place to live and do business.”
McLeod stepped down as Newsday publisher on July 2, 2016, days after the paper briefly became part of cable television and internet provider Altice N.V. of the Netherlands when it purchased Cablevision Systems Corp. of Bethpage for $17.7 billion. He spent the ensuing years investing in and advising technology startups in Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Europe and Israel.
“He was so interested in what was next,” Grisanti said. “He was interested in how technology could make a difference, how it could make life better.”
In addition to his wife and daughters, McLeod is survived by a sister, Paddy McKenzie of Victoria, British Columbia, and his father, Neil of Richmond, British Columbia. He was predeceased by his mother.
Memorial services will be held in June in Manhattan and Sag Harbor.