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NYT CEO Mark Thompson: Coronavirus is an opportunity to 'prove the value of trustworthy news'

New York Times Company president and CEO Mark Thompson discusses the paper's digital subscription gains and ad revenue losses. The pandemic is "a moment for news organizations and newspapers to find audiences and prove the value of trustworthy news," Thompson says.

Posted: May 11, 2020 3:11 PM
Updated: May 11, 2020 3:11 PM

At a time when news organizations are reporting on and sharing vital information about the coronavirus pandemic with communities across the country, many are also struggling with a difficult business environment.

But New York Times CEO Mark Thompson said the crisis also presents an opportunity for news organizations to find new audiences and highlight the essential role of journalism.

"Moments like this, this extraordinary and terrible experience which this country and the world is going through, is a moment for news organizations and newspapers to find audiences and prove the value of trustworthy news," Thompson told CNN's Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources" on Sunday.

Advertising demand is closely linked to the performance of the larger economy. News organizations and tech giants alike experienced painful ad revenue drops during the first three months of 2020, as coronavirus forced many businesses to shutter and pull back on spending.

Those challenges reached The New York Times. The company reported a record 6 million subscriptions during the first three months of 2020, an increase of more 587,000 from the prior quarter, but its quarterly advertising revenue fell by 15.2%. Thompson said he now expects the company's ad revenue to drop by up to 50% in the June quarter.

"We're seeing a really big -- we think, transient -- hit to advertising," Thompson said. "The explanation is very simple: (It's) the massive, almost medically induced coma which so much of the economy has gone into has a direct effect on advertising."

However, Thompson said the Times is better able to weather this revenue crunch than those of years past, as the company now relies on advertising for only a quarter of its total revenue. Far more important now are its subscriptions, where Thompson said the company is experiencing "really quite astonishing growth."

Other news organizations are not so well positioned. Coronavirus has sped up the collapse of local newsrooms — resulting in cut hours, layoffs and pay cuts. Thompson said the Times may be forced to eliminate a "small number" of jobs in coming months, though it will be "a very small percentage of the total."

He acknowledged that many news organizations are facing hard times, but implored them to look toward the future.

"If papers have got enough ... cash on hand to keep going through the crisis, I think they can build audiences and build loyalty and build recognition," Thompson said.

The crisis could be a chance for newsrooms to innovate, he said, adding that the Times continues to hire in journalism and digital product roles such as engineering and data science.

"I recognize that's very hard for other media players," he said. "But I have to say, if it's humanly possible, this is the moment when the world needs great journalism. It needs newsrooms working 24/7. It need journalism now."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
Vigo2478
Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62856

Reported Deaths: 3032
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11433443
Cuyahoga8786393
Hamilton6563207
Lucas2889305
Marion274039
Montgomery237835
Summit2299209
Pickaway221641
Mahoning1907239
Butler176747
Columbiana135060
Stark1196114
Lorain109769
Trumbull103277
Warren94525
Clark79310
Delaware67515
Fairfield64317
Tuscarawas60110
Lake57022
Belmont56722
Medina56632
Licking56012
Miami50331
Portage48759
Wood47451
Clermont4537
Ashtabula44544
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3635
Allen34841
Greene3229
Mercer29510
Erie26722
Holmes2575
Darke25326
Huron2382
Madison2139
Ottawa16624
Sandusky15715
Washington14420
Coshocton1413
Ross1393
Crawford1385
Putnam13415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Athens1111
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1052
Muskingum961
Union931
Monroe8917
Hancock851
Lawrence820
Preble821
Hocking809
Clinton791
Guernsey793
Shelby744
Williams742
Logan681
Fulton660
Scioto650
Carroll643
Ashland632
Wyandot625
Brown601
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland491
Van Wert451
Perry411
Seneca402
Henry330
Paulding280
Jackson270
Pike270
Adams251
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan120
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
Scattered Clouds
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Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
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Breezy, Sunny Saturday
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