Shifts in newsroom and company leadership are being made at the Times as it attempts to adapt to journalism’s changing landscape. The key move: in late 2012, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. appointed Mark Thompson as CEO of the Times Company to lead it towards an international, multiplatform approach like his past employer, the BBC. The newsroom was then led by Executive Editor Jill Abramson, whose leadership saw the creation of the online pay wall, and the Times’ Innovation Report. She was dismissed in May 2014 due to what Sulzberger called management issues.
Her replacement, Dean Baquet — described by all as a print journalist — has reorganized the newsroom leadership team. In July 2014 he assigned a series of deputy-level editors (“digital deputies”) to each major news desk “to take the digital report to the next level” by assisting in audience development, social media training and multi-platform approaches. In November he added more digital deputies to help “finish the job” of adapting the newsroom to digital rhythms and platforms.
Later that month the Times announced the hiring of Kinsey Wilson, formerly the chief content officer for NPR, to oversee innovation and strategy in the newsroom. Wilson had pushed to transform NPR into a digital, multi-platform news operation. The Times calls its top editors The Masthead. Wilson was added to that team, equal in standing to Baquet’s other deputes.
In July 2013 CEO Mark Thompson hired Meredith Levien from Forbes to provide leadership in digital advertising and native ads. He also announced the creation of two new top jobs — chief digital officer and chief marketing officer — and set about recruiting for both. Those jobs have yet to be filled.
- Ken Doctor, who reports on the transformation of the news industry, saw a draft of the job description for the Times chief digital officer. He wrote: “The description lays out the expected competencies in leadership (‘Aligns people and organizations around change. At highest levels, not only acts as change leader, but creates a series of change leaders to support a coordinated effort’) and cross-divisional communication (‘Can manage across the matrix; ability to build consensus for a digital strategy across news, marketing and advertising. Skill to manage through influence and by building strong relationships.’). The big hoped-for payoff is expressed simply: ‘The EVP, Digital will ultimately tie all of the company’s digital aspects together in support of the company strategy.’”
- Alexandra MacCallum was appointed assistant managing editor for audience development in August 2014, an example of a Times person switching from the business side to the newsroom. She has previously been director of new products at the Times.
- Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, son of The Times’ publisher and a leader of the Innovation Report’s creation, was appointed Senior Editor for Strategy in July 2014. In pioneering the report, Sulzberger proved his commitment to the Times’ future. Working with a small team, he will report to Baquet with industry trends and developments to continually capture and grow the paper’s readers.