Exclusive: Times CEO talks newsroom innovation

By Jake Kreinberg

The president and CEO of The New York Times Co. provides insights into the strategy of his company and how the Times is bringing people from different backgrounds together to better position it for the future.

Editor’s note: At a recent conference at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, we spoke with Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Co., about the intersection of news and technology and how the two work in tandem at his company. To hear other perspectives from the conference, click here.

What is the importance of media and technology companies working together?

Mark: I certainly think the news business is, to a significant degree, becoming a technology business. I think where we can collaborate with pure technology companies, that’s very good.

But I also think we need a very clear strategy for our own future. At The New York Times, we think we need to be a big destination for our readers. We think we need to constantly innovate and we want the whole time to be offering our readers new experiences, like virtual reality in recent days from The New York Times.

How do media companies build a culture of innovation?

Mark: I think innovation is actually deep in the DNA of The New York Times. I think our newsroom has always been extraordinarily creative and interested in new ways of storytelling. The big challenge for us is trying to bring together different kinds of creativity — creativity in journalism, creativity in computer science and engineering, the use of data in creativity, and to bring creativity and advertising close together.

So to me, our biggest challenge is moving from a world where different parts of The New York Times worked in silos to an environment where you bring people from different backgrounds and with different skills together to create something brilliant and new together.

How is The New York Times working toward that goal?

Mark: The best way of doing that is to actually do it. And so we started in just a few places, with teams working on specific projects. And we’re now progressively trying to make it the norm.

It’s the way when we think about how we’re going to create something new, we do it always now with everyone who needs to be in the room.

Jake Kreinberg

Jake is the text and multimedia product manager at The Associated Press and the former editor of Insights. He previously covered college sports as a reporter for AP and helped design its multi-year strategic plan. Have feedback about the blog? Contact us at insights@ap.org.

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