NYTimes.Com Exec Named New NPR CEO
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
This January, there will be another transition of power here in Washington. And this time we're talking about our own. Today National Public Radio announced its new president and CEO. Vivian Schiller comes to NPR from The New York Times where she's the senior executive overseeing NYTimes.com. Our media correspondent, David Folkenflik, has more.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Paid content which chronicles the online news world called today's news a shocker. Under Vivian Schiller, the New York Times site added dozens of blogs and visual storytelling features, such as videos and interactive charts. NYTimes.com is the nation's top newspaper Web site and the fifth most popular news site overall. Schiller's appointment as CEO is NPR's clearest declaration that it intends to emerge from its radio routes in full bloom in the digital age.
Mr. HOWARD STEVENSON (Board Chairman, NPR): She's managed the transition of NewYorkTimes.com from an economic model of having most of the important stuff behind a paid wall to where it is a vibrant, thriving part of an organization under attack.
FOLKENFLIK: That's NPR Board Chairman Howard Stevenson. He says the board is clear about its mission serving the American public. The recession has hit the news business hard, and NPR won't be immune.
Mr. STEVENSON: Anytime like this, we feel there's an opportunity. If you ask me where NPR will be at five years from now, I think we'll be healthier and more important than we've ever been. Are there going to be some rough roads? I suspect so.
FOLKENFLIK: Former NPR CEO Ken Stern was ousted earlier this year as he failed to convince NPR member stations their future was secure as the larger organization expanded online. Schiller says the relationship with local stations is not a detriment but an asset.
Ms. VIVIAN SCHILLER (Vice President and General Manager, NYT.com): Look, every news organization in the country has had hours and hours of meetings trying to figure out how they can create a local strategy, how they can reach local communities, and how they can have an impact and become local portals.
FOLKENFLIK: Schiller previously led the now-defunct Discovery Times cable channel and was a senior vice president at CNN overseeing its documentary and long-form work. She says NPR benefits from having hundreds of member stations around the country closely identified with it.
Ms. SCHILLER: That is the Holy Grail that most media companies could only dream of.
FOLKENFLIK: Over the past dozen years, NPR's audience has more than doubled. And it set new records during the presidential campaign. It has grown to 18 domestic and 18 foreign bureaus, and its online presence is larger than ever. Schiller's challenge will be sustaining that journalistic muscle amid a punishing financial climate and a shifting media landscape. David Folkenflik, NPR News.