Now that the dust has settled and everyone has had a moment to analyze the The New York Times Company naming Mark Thompson its new CEO, it’s time for everyone to tear him apart. However, so far the reactions to Thompson have been mixed, which is actually a good thing. Below is a quick roundup.
He is journalist to the bone—though, as a former senior BBC Executive told The Daily Beast ‘he was always on the move somewhere and made decisions on the basis how good it would make him look.’ ‘Yes he’s interested in journalism,’ the source said, ‘but Mark Thompson’s main area of interest is Mark Thompson.’
An egotistical journalist is very rare, so this is quite worrisome!
Just like all newspaper publishers, NYT Co. sorely needs to tap new commercial seams. If it does so whilst marking itself out further for the values of trustworthy, traditional journalism, as BBC News has done, then Thompson could be just the ticket. But, in the tumult of his new seat, Thompson won’t have anything like the luxury of the guaranteed revenue he enjoyed at home.
Okay, that is actually worrisome.
He seems to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with trying to move staid and long-established news organizations from their legacies to whatever the future holds. As such, he ought to be able to look at the assets and liabilities of NYTCo. with fresh eyes — which is exactly what the company needs.
Even the Wall Street Journal found something nice to say about him:
Douglas Arthur, an analyst with Evercore Partners, said the hiring was a ‘positive development’ and should help the Times Co. expand internationally… Thompson also is used to the challenge of being the head of a prominent global brand, Arthur said.
Bottom line? He’s not the worst hire and he’s not the best. But no one would’ve admitted it if he was the best, would they? There’s certainly no fun in that.