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Chicago Public Media names Melissa Bell as new CEO

Vox Media Publisher and Co-founder revolutionized “explainer journalism,” grew audience to 130 million

Chicago —The Chicago Public Media (CPM) Board of Directors today announced the selection of Melissa Bell, former publisher of Vox Media and co-founder of, as its next CEO.

“Melissa brings an incredible depth of experience as a media executive and publisher, a product leader and as a reporter,” said CPM Board Chair Robert Pasin. “With her proven, visionary leadership and collaborative approach, Melissa will bring tremendous expertise and a strong track record of success to help Chicago Public Media develop a sustainable model for high-quality local journalism in the digital age.”

Bell co-founded in 2014 and played a key role in developing Vox’s distinctive content style that emphasizes understanding complex topics, commonly known as explainer journalism. Under her leadership, Vox also produced an array of multiplatform news products, including the acclaimed Today, Explained podcast and Netflix’s Explained television series.

In 2016, Bell became publisher of Vox’s parent company Vox Media, overseeing the company’s editorial publications, including Eater, The Verge and SB Nation. She played a critical role in shepherding Vox Media’s merger with New York Magazine and its premium brands, including Vulture, The Cut and The Strategist. The merger brought together 13 distinct newsrooms that collectively have earned 50+ National Magazine Awards, 20 James Beard Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and a News & Documentary Emmy.

She also helped with the acquisition of Group Nine’s portfolio of brands, including The Dodo, NowThis, and Thrillist, growing Vox Media to a top 10 US media company by audience. Under her leadership, Vox Media’s platforms reached up to 130 million people across its platforms each month, gained 350 million social media followers, and earned 6 billion monthly video views and 36 million monthly podcast downloads. Fast Company has named Vox Media as one of the world’s “most innovative” media companies.

Prior to founding Vox, Bell worked as the Director of Platforms for The Washington Post, where she restructured the outlet’s digital strategy and increased overall traffic. At The Post, she also wrote a weekly consumer technology column. Bell got her start in journalism and building news organizations as a founding Features Editor for Mint, which rose to become the second-largest business paper in India.

After nearly a decade, Bell stepped away in 2023 from daily management at Vox Media to serve as a visiting fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, where she studied the impact of news avoidance on local journalism in the United States.

“It is an honor to take on this role, where there is both a massive opportunity and an urgent necessity to strengthen the role of public media in our local communities. There is a declining trust, and more worrisome, a declining interest in news at a critical time in Chicago and for our country,” said Bell, who received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. “There are challenges facing CPM, but they are not insurmountable. In fact, there is so much potential that comes from the collaboration between WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times. I’m excited to return to Chicago to work alongside the many talented, passionate journalists and staff to build sustainable and scalable solutions for producing quality, accessible local news.”

Bell succeeds Matt Moog, who has served as CEO for the past four years.

Pasin said, “Under Matt’s leadership, Chicago Public Media has become a national model for the future of local news. The landmark acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times helped to expand our reach and enhance our journalistic capabilities. Moog’s dedication and strategic vision have been instrumental in strengthening Chicago Public Media as a leader in public service journalism.”

Pasin led the Board search committee in an extensive national search in collaboration with Koya Partners, the executive recruitment firm dedicated to mission-driven search.

Bell will formally begin her role as CEO of Chicago Public Media on September 3.