James Slezak helped The NYT do more than survive. As COO of the global digital division, he innovated on the digital business model to allow NYT to invest and prosper in the face of disruption.
As the 1990s drew to a close, The New York Times was riding a wave of growth in its advertising revenue; and the forecast was for the good times to keep on rolling. But the Internet had other plans for the renowned organisation.
The barriers to publication came tumbling down, new players began entering the market and a new competitive landscape meant the value of journalism couldn’t just be captured by the major players.
Advertising revenues across the board started plummeting (including at The Times), leading to job cuts, stripped-back operations and, for some publications, it spelt their demise.
But more recently The Times has experienced a resurgence Earlier this year, it reported unprecedented growth in digital subscriptions, which are up 60% from 2016.
Slezak says this renewed life has come from “leading with the story of why this organisation is important and rallying people behind us to support that mission.”
“Digital disruption can’t be thought of as only a threat to financial viability, because, on the upside, it represents profoundly new and better ways to do things.”
For The Times, this has meant new opportunities to tell stories, connect communities and make an impact and readers are responding with their support and money.
How the New York Times is Unlocking New Opportunities
1. Reaching greater audiences
Tapping into a global audience of over 80 million, compared to 5 million in the days before the Internet. There are now over 2 million digital subscribers with more people paying for journalism today than ever before.
2. Interactive Journalism
Using readers as primary sources for stories by involving them in the creation and presentation of news through social media.
3. Mobile-first reporting
Developing mobile-specific content to provide optimised experiences, no matter what device readers are using.
4. Data-driven journalism
Discovering stories by analysing data in new ways and presenting it in original ways.
Understanding what readers want when they interact with The Times and then serving up the right article to keep them engaged with the brand.