Story, Photos and Video by Ron Reason
New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet spent Thursday, April 16, 2015 speaking with the School of Journalism at the University of Montana and the Missoula community. Students in our course “J494: Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption” were honored to host him for a lengthy conversation about innovation and disruption at the Times. Following are highlights of statements from his classroom appearances and from his lecture to the public, on creating quality journalism in a digital world. Please note that responses to questions from classes are paraphrased except where quotation marks are specifically used.
Manhattan meets Montana: With great help from Times staff, we have a front row seat to study news media innovation, leadership, risk and hope
By Ron Reason
Several months of discussing innovation and change at The New York Times culminates this Thursday for our class, “Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption,” when Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet comes to campus as part of Dean Stone Week. He’ll spend an hour in our classroom, and others at the University of Montana School of Journalism, and later present a lecture to the public, “Quality Journalism in the Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunities.”
Baquet’s visit comes in the wake of months of intense change at the Times, and a huge media spotlight on the evolving yet challenged brand, its people and their work – a lucky break for students getting an up-close-and personal look at issues shaping the industry, and their future, partly thanks to a variety of Times staffers helping us out. Here are ways we’ve been taking a deep dive into the Times, in preparation for Baquet’s time here this week:
- Push to mobile: We’ve contrasted Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan’s recent missive on “the curious (and vital) power of print,” where she notes that more than 70% of NYT revenue comes from that platform, with her followup last Friday, offering “a darker narrative” by Clay Shirkey. Their exchange follows lots of attention in the last few weeks on the Times’ push toward a predominantly mobile future, including plans revealed today for a new NYT Now app. Currently, 50 percent of the brand’s digital traffic comes from mobile, and that’s expected to top 75% within a few years. Our class has downloaded Times apps, including NYT Now, and is discussing their advertising ramifications, user interfaces, and integration with social media and other brands. (Among our required reading: “Times CIO Marc Frons: What we are doing to make the Times mobile-first,” via The Enterprisers Project, and “NYTimes shifting resources from ‘every division’ to mobile,” via Advertising Age. Today’s Times press release on changes to its mobile portfolio, including plans for the Apple Watch.)
Hebdo, Abramson, innovation, diversity, mobile, Magazine, multimedia: Studying up on an esteemed visitor, his company
In advance of this Thursday’s visit to the University of Montana School of Journalism by Dean Baquet, Executive Editor of The New York Times, students in a variety of classes including J494: The Pollner Seminar, Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption have been studying up on the institution, its innovations, and the man, who will spend an hour with our class and give a public lecture later that night. Following is a curated list of articles and links, including many assigned to J494, for anyone wanting to learn more in advance of his visit to campus. (Related, from this blog: “4 big ways the NYTimes is helping us teach design and disruption.”)
ABOUT or BY DEAN BAQUET
Dean Baquet bio with links to his Times columns and articles (NYTimes)
Baquet assumes editorship after departure of Jill Abramson (NYTimes, David Carr)
On Abramson, race, surviving cancer, and ‘TMZ envy’ (Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove)
Meet Dean Baquet, the Times’ first black boss (New York magazine, Joe Coscarelli)
“One of the most famous quotes in political journalism came from his reporting”: 10 facts about Baquet (Politico, Lucy McCalmont)
Baquet: Media failed after 9/11, hopes next Snowden comes to them (Huffington Post, Michael Calderone)
Dean Baquet calls critic of Times’ Hebdo decision an ‘asshole’ (Politico, Dylan Byers)
‘We were arrogant,’ Baquet says of Hebdo decision (Spiegel, Isabell Hülsen and Holger Stark)
Turbulence at the Times (Politico longform from 2013)
Baquet gives tour of private office, says he checks Facebook 15 times a day (Hollywood Reporter)
Converting broadsheet newspapers to narrower web widths isn’t simply a matter of putting your existing design mix into a smaller shape. I’ve worked with newspaper clients since 1996 to design for narrower web widths, from The Dallas Morning News and Orlando Sentinel, to most recently, the Brunswick (Ga.) News. In every case, we’ve realized that the old mix of headline fonts, page headers, and other ingredients just doesn’t translate to the new proportions. Here are some lessons we’ve learned along the way:
[The relaunch issue cover, and a Special Report opener inside.]
The Pollner Distinguished Professorships at the University of Montana School of Journalism present an exciting, unique opportunity for professional journalists (or “news media experts,” if you want to look beyond writers, editors or photographers) to take a career break and make a big difference. The one-semester posts carry a generous $40,000 stipend. The application period is typically closes end of January each year, but check this page for updates.
In 2015, I was fortunate to be the first to hold the new spring professorship, endowed to expand the school’s offerings in visual journalism, digital media, and/or the business side of the news (as distinct from business or financial reporting – the fall professorship, as it has for years, goes to an expert in reporting or editing, so if you are a business reporter or editor, that’s likely the spot you want to check out).
What prompted you to suggest doing art classes for Crain’s Detroit Business? How did the redesign factor in to this idea?
“Everybody on my art team (marketing, sales and editorial) has a very different set of skills. That said, people are working differently, creating files differently, and sharing is difficult. Not to mention the hell that comes on when someone goes on vacation and we have to fill a gap. When I was promoted to Art Director, I took time to consider everyone’s strengths and realized we have a lot of talent and specific skills on this team. Marketing could benefit from some of editorial’s layout and typography skill. Editorial could be more aesthetically pleasing with some additional art techniques and understanding. Read the full post »
[This post was originally published in 2008 on my now archived travel blog, and has been revised for sharing with my class at the University of Montana, as many students were interested in international travel and outreach. Updates on each subject interviewed appear at the start of each segment. For a variety of other essays and collected writings and images of my work in Africa and elsewhere in the Third World, visit this link.]
By Ron Reason
Early word last week on the redesign/reinvention of The New York Times Magazine gave a good indication this wouldn’t be just a cosmetic exercise, a shuffling around of fonts with a few new editorial features. Instantly I suspected this would offer great lessons for the coming week for my class, “Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption,” at the University of Montana School of Journalism. (With NYT Editor Dean Baquet coming to speak to us April 16, and channels like The Upshot garnering great buzz for innovation and audience development, the Times is big on our radar this semester in Big Sky country.)