Curley was born in Easton, Pennsylvania. At age 15, he started writing for the Easton Express. He holds a political science degree from La Salle University, where he served as editor in chief of the student newspaper, the Collegian, and was an active brother of Sigma Phi Lambda Fraternity, one of the oldest local fraternities in the country, and a MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology. In 1994, Curley received an Honorary Doctorate from his undergraduate alma mater, La Salle.
In 1972, he worked as an editor for Rochester Times-Union. He became director of information for Gannett Company, Inc. in 1976. In 1979, he was one of the original news staffer that led to the creation of USA Today. In 1982, he became the editor of Norwich Bulletin, and in 1983, the publisher of The Courier-News. He served as the president and publisher of USA Today from 1991 to 2003. In 1998, he became senior vice president of Gannett Co., Inc. Curley served as the President of the Associated Press from June 2003 until 2012.
He is a trustee of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. He also serves on the executive board of Ad Council, and he is the former chairman of the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Fame.
- Associated Press press release Archived 2010-11-24 at the Wayback Machine
- Adams, Russell, "AP's Curley to Retire" (intro only without subscription), The Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- John K. Hartman, The USA today way: a candid look at the national newspaper's first decade, 1982-1992, J.K. Hartman, 1992, p. 11 
- "Freedom Forum Profile".
- Lamonica, Jeffrey (April 2006). LaSalle University. ISBN 9780738539225.
- Peter Prichard, The making of McPaper: the inside story of USA today, Andrews, McMeel & Parker, 1987, p. 91 
- Thomas H. Davenport, Marius Leibold, Sven C. Voelpel, Strategic Management in the Innovation Economy: Strategic Approaches and Tools for Dynamic Innovation Capabilities, John Wiley and Sons, 2007, p. 192 
- Leonard Mogel, The Newspaper:Everything You Need to Know to Make It in the Newspaper Business, Leonard Mogel, p. 24