John Zappe, longtime AIM writer, dies
John Zappe, who spent two stints with AIM Group as a recruitment-focused writer/analyst following an award-winning career as a journalist, died on Wednesday. He was 70 years old.
Zappe was diagnosed in November 2021 with a brain tumor. He underwent chemo and radiation therapy before dying peacefully in a Southern California care facility. His death was confirmed by his friend and companion, Nancy Placek, who supported and cared for him in his final days.
He was an award-winning journalist who was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and later helped Knight-Ridder, Belo Interactive and the Los Angeles Newspaper Group develop leading online media sites.
Zappe graduated from Syracuse University College of Law with a JD degree. He was editor of the university newspaper, the Daily Orange, and was an adjunct instructor at the Newhouse School of Communications. He chose not to become a lawyer and instead took up journalism.
He spent seven years at the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, Calif., where he served as editor, corporate editor, investigative and special projects reporter and later city editor, overseeing a team of 12 people. From there he joined Knight-Ridder. as Head of New Media, leading the team that planned, built and launched the company’s first newspaper website in 1994. Later, at Belo Interactive, he served as Director of New Media, with responsibility operation of a multi-million dollar internet service provider, as well as an audiotext and internet content operation. He also ran an online advertising sales program.
Zappe served as vice president of new media for nearly three years for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, with a staff of 23 and annual revenue of $5.2 million with a 35% margin.
In 2004, he joined the AIM group, which then published Classified Intelligence Report, focused on online classifieds. He wrote about recruiting and local search for the report and also served as a consultant for several AIM Group clients, building online sales teams and focusing on growing advertising revenue.
After AIM Group, he joined ERE Media, an online company focused on recruiters and recruiting. He edited the Fordyce Letter, “the voice of the professional executive recruiter”. He wrote over 2,000 recruitment articles for ERE and its sister sites, before joining the AIM Group in early 2021. He has also worked as a freelance writer for a number of companies, including a pitch equipment supplier games.
In addition to his work in journalism, Zappe’s passion was training dogs and competing with them in agility trials. He traveled throughout the western United States with his dogs, most recently Batman and Zuma, and was part of the Southern California canine agility community.
He most recently lived in Long Beach, CA but was originally from Bronx, NY He attended Rhinebeck High School and High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY
In addition to Placek, he is survived by Batman, Zuma and two large communities of friends from the worlds of journalism and canine agility.