NEW YORK - Digital First Media Friday named David J. Butler the company's editor-in-chief.

Butler, editor of the San Jose Mercury News and its sister papers in the (San Francisco) Bay Area News Group, will oversee news and content operations at the Company's 75 daily newspapers as well as all weekly and digital newsgathering operations, according to a press release.

Butler succeeds Jim Brady, who is leaving the company May 1.

"Dave Butler is a focused editorial leader who will continue to challenge Digital First Media newsrooms to innovate and to continue to transform," Digital First Media Chief Executive Officer John Paton said in the release.

Butler, onetime editor of the New Haven Register, most recently has overseen Digital First Media's editorial operations throughout California as the West Editor, the release said, and previously held editorial posts for MediaNews Group and Journal Register Company, both initially managed by Digital First Media.

"I hope to bring a special appreciation and knowledge to the job, having been a longtime editor at both companies. I plan to build on what Jim Brady started," Butler said in the release. "Our commitment at Digital First Media is unchanged: aggressively pursuing a new and exciting digital future while continuing to produce superb, exclusive, local enterprise reporting that makes a difference in the lives of our readers, including those who cherish print."

Prior to the creation of Digital First Media, Butler was an editor of the Bay Area News Group as well as vice president for news for MediaNews Group, coordinating the news operations of its 57 newspapers and websites.

Butler, 63, joined MediaNews Group in 1997 as editor and executive vice president for news for the Los Angeles Daily News and the LA News Group. He was editor and publisher of The Detroit News before being named MediaNews Group's vice president for news in Denver, a job he retained after being named editor of the Mercury News in 2008.

He later became editor of all Bay Area News Group daily newspapers, a position he will retain in his role as Digital First Media's editor-in-chief.

"Dave has been a steady hand in helping me manage a variety of major Digital First Media initiatives over the past few years, and that, combined with his deep knowledge of our newsrooms, makes him the perfect person to step into this role," Brady said in the release. "I wish Dave all the best as he takes on this important role of leading Digital First Media journalism into the future."