“I’m trying to build a digital model big enough & strong enough, (for when) print revenue is at zero.” — Mark Thompson, CEO, New York Times

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INNOVATION Media Consulting Partner Juan Señor interviewed Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company on Tuesday at the INMA World Congress in New York. Over the course of an hour, they discussed digital subscriptions, innovation, credibility and fake news, managing the print transition, and how to navigate all of those changes.

Here are some of the proceedings according to those in the audience on Twitter:

Juan Señor began the interview by asking Thompson about a new subscription model. The Times’ goal is to reach 10 million subscribers.

“I think the idea that we should aspire to have 10 million [subscribers] or more is not in any way crazy,” Thompson said. “I think that’s the kind of scale and ambition we should have.”

“Broadly, we saw that the proportion of new subscribers coming from the rest of the world was staying steady with previous quarters,” he noted. “So, you have an intensely American story, yet we’re actually getting 14% of new subscribers from outside the U.S.”

How has the NYT has managed its transition from digital ad revenue to reader revenue?

What content triggers a subscription?

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Explain the new strategy to transform the NYT from a “world class news brand” to a “world class consumer brand.” What does this mean precisely ​regarding​ audience research, analytics and ​the ​customer relationship?

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How will you transition from selling content to selling a membership in a community?

Candid advice as to dos and don’ts ​for​ publishers contemplating a similar journey from over-dependence on digital ad revenue to reader revenue?

Juan Señor then began asking Thompson about the 2020 digital revenue target. How would he get to the stated $800 million target in digital revenue from half that in 2015, given that in 2016 it was slightly above $450m?

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How do you use print as a ‘bridge to the future’ – and is it a stated intention to make print ‘disappear’ in due course?

Is your vision to sell ‘things,’ experiences or ‘belonging’ in addition to content/journalism to get to the $800 million?

How do you see digital advertising evolving?​ Is branded/native advertising delivering on the hype and expectations of two years ago? NYT Studio’s performance?

Juan Señor then focused on visual journalism in his line of questioning. “You have made visual journalism one of the cornerstones of how the NYT newsroom will deliver the content expected in the digital age – what does this mean precisely?” he asked.

From the plethora of multi-media formats you are exploring today – videos, photos, infographics, graphics, podcasts – is there something that stands out and triggers subscriptions?

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Where are we with the implementation of the Innovation report?

Is your newsroom still too paper-centric? Is that still the ‘king’ platform?

How do you transform a text-based newsroom into a visual newsroom?

In his final 15 minutes with Thompson, Juan Señor focused on mobile. “It’s been said within the NYT​, that mobile​ ​is​ the platform of the future present. What does that mean? Mobile=massive audiences on a massively reduced space to place advertising; ​h​ow on earth do you make money on mobile​?” he asked.

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For a more detailed account of the interview, please visit the INMA World Congress blog entry here.