Fox to succeed Howell as Beacon Communications publisher

Posted 5/22/24

Cranston native Joy Fox will succeed John Howell as Beacon Communications publisher.

“John has been at the helm for five decades,” Fox said. “He’s watched these …

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Fox to succeed Howell as Beacon Communications publisher


Cranston native Joy Fox will succeed John Howell as Beacon Communications publisher.

“John has been at the helm for five decades,” Fox said. “He’s watched these communities change and grow. And John’s not going anywhere.”

Howell, the longtime owner and publisher of Beacon Communications, announced recently that plans are in the works for Fox to be his successor as leader of the trusted source for community journalism across Warwick, Cranston, Johnston, and beyond.

Beacon Communications publishes three weekly Rhode Island newspapers — the Warwick Beacon, Cranston Herald and Johnston SunRise — and a weekly shopping guide, The Reminder.

Howell will remain Editor of the Warwick Beacon, a post he’s held since he bought the paper in 1969.

“Obviously this is a pivotal moment for local newspapers,” Fox said Tuesday, shortly before she and Howell broke the news to Beacon Communications staff. “Community news will continue to be our priority and our focus going forward. I think that these papers are such a part of the fabric of these communities, not just from a news perspective, but from a local business perspective.”

Howell passed the torch to Fox during a brief newsroom meeting Wednesday morning, as the SunRise and Beacon papers were on deadline.

“It’s no secret, here or anywhere else, that community newspapers face an uphill climb financially,” Fox said. “I look forward to really engaging with our communities, and making sure these newspapers are here 50-60 years in the future.”

Fox has nieces and nephews who live in the Beacon Communications readership footprint. She said she hopes that in half a century, they’ll still have copies of the Warwick Beacon, Cranston Herald and Johnston SunRise to read each week.

The papers’ ultimate goal, under Fox’s leadership, will be to “reach a bigger audience and more people” than ever before.

Richard Fleischer, retired Beacon Communications General Manager, joined Howell and Fox to make the announcement in the newsroom Wednesday.

“I’ve worked for John for 50 years,” Fleischer recalled. They’ve been business partners and close confidants. He said, if not for recent medical issues, including two back surgeries, “John would still be taking his silly little boat out into the middle of Narragansett Bay and dodging icebergs.”

But, perhaps the only thing more dear to Howell’s heart than rowing is the Warwick Beacon, Fleischer told employees.

Howell pledged to the newsroom that Beacon Communications would “always stay locally owned,” and he would not sell the newspapers to a massive news conglomerate.

“I’m not leaving,” Howell assured his staff. “However, I don’t’ expect to put in another 52 years.”

While Howell’s used to getting up at 5:30 a.m. to go rowing on the bay, he’s been spending the last few months flat on his back staring at a computer screen, but his focus remains on local news coverage and community involvement.

Fox, a Cranston native and Warwick resident started her career in print and broadcast journalism and has long held a deep passion for quality local news and storytelling. The former Herald editor and leader with a long record of public service will also continue to lead the strategic communications consulting firm Clarendon Group, founded in 2000 by Christine Heenan.

Howell has known Fox since she was a high schooler at St. Mary Academy - Bay View. The Cranston native first entered the Beacon newsroom as a once-a-week intern reporter for the Warwick Beacon.

She returned six years later to serve as the reporter and editor of the Cranston Herald from 2001 to 2003, covering September 11 and the Station Nightclub Fire, as well as hundreds of city council and school committee meetings, countless school events, and small business openings.

“I’m excited about Joy’s commitment to Rhode Island,” Howell noted. “She has obviously worked in various governmental positions, knows the people, and she understands the importance of local news.”

Fox’s time in journalism includes stints at Providence Business News and NBC10, as well, before moving on to government and small business. She was the director of communications for Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo spanning her time as General Treasurer and Governor, has worked as a senior advisor to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and for the last several has been a small business owner. She is currently the CEO of Clarendon Group and serves as the president of the board of trustees for Sophia Academy, an all-girls middle school in Providence. She was a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District in 2022.

“I think there is such a special thing happening here,” Fox told Beacon Communications staff. “I think we can put all the right pieces into place.”

Fox, publisher


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