Boccardi, 65, has headed the AP for 18 years, half of his 36-year career working for the not-for-profit news cooperative. He plans to step down officially sometime late summer or early this fall, when he celebrates his 66th birthday.
Boccardi’s successor will be named at a later date, AP Chairman Burl Osborne said Tuesday.
In a press statement, Osborne praised Boccardi’s tenure as AP chief, describing him as the “ultimate editor’s editor.”
“Lou Boccardi has led AP through an era of tremendous growth in news technology and diversification,” Osborne said. “He has shown a generation of AP staffers a singular devotion to AP’s core values speed, fairness and accuracy, with an emphasis on quality.”
The AP provides more than 15,000 media outlets worldwide with news stories, photographs, audio, video among other products.
Boccardi is recognized for his leadership in modernizing the AP’s services through state-of-the-art multimedia equipment and new media technology.
The AP press statement credited Boccardi’s business acumen for boosting the cooperative’s budgeted revenue from $200 million in 1985 to more than $500 million in 2002.
Boccardi also vigorously pushed to reopen the AP’s bureau in Havana, which was forced to close in 1969 — seven years after the Cuban Missile Crisis. He made two trips to Cuba to meet with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and other officials to push for his organization’s return.
The Cuban government gave the AP — along with the Tribune Company, Belo and CNN — permission to return in 1998.
Boccardi also gained praise for his editorial leadership during the 2000 presidential election coverage. On election night, when television networks prematurely declared George W. Bush the winner, the AP found the count was “incomplete,” causing many of the networks to reverse course.
Later, Boccardi railed against calls for a federal investigation into the media’s election night errors, telling a House committee that “an official government inquiry into what are essentially editorial matters is inconsistent with the First Amendment values that are fundamental to our society.”
The AP chief acknowledged the coverage’s serious shortcomings, but said “fixing them is a job for the nation’s editors and news directors, not its legislators. What we report and when we report it are matters between us and the audience we try to serve, not matters between us and our congressmen.”
Boccardi began his career at the AP in 1967 as executive assistant to the general news editor, then as senior news executive. He worked as the collective’s managing editor and executive editor for eleven years.
Boccardi was elected a vice president in 1975 and became president ten years later.
He has not yet announced his post-retirement plans, AP spokesperson Jack Stokes said.