At the end of his first week as CEO of The New York Times, Mark Thompson was the subject of yet another story in his new paper about his tenure at the BBC. The latest story revealed that a letter sent in his name detailed sex abuse allegations against former host Jimmy Savile, allegations Thompson denies having known at the time. On Friday, Thompson sent this memo to staff, which does not mention the BBC scandal:
As I finish my first week at The New York Times Company, I would like to thank the many people I’ve already met. As you’d expect, Times employees come across as super-smart and totally committed to maintaining the values and quality that the company and its newspapers have always stood for. But I’ve also been struck by how friendly and welcoming you’ve been to me.
I’ve been impressed by the work that’s already in motion to tackle the structural trends that our industry faces and the products and services we’re developing that will drive new growth and profitability, all while securing the brilliant journalism on which everything else depends. The digital subscription story continues to be an exciting one, and we can build on it further. With Invest in the Times and similar projects at the Globe and IHT, our company is already focusing on other growth opportunities. We are looking in the right places for future success: understanding and engaging with our readers and consumers better; developing compelling propositions in video, mobile and social; and figuring out how to drive more revenue from international audiences. The work done so far is really valuable.
But I don’t want to underestimate the challenges we face. As our third-quarter results showed, the company is experiencing the same advertising and economic pressures as the rest of our industry. Figuring out how best to respond to these pressures — especially the long-term downward trajectory of print advertising — is also going to be an important part of our work in the coming months.
Thank you for a productive and inspiring first week. To help us get to know each other better, we have scheduled Town Hall meetings with me for Monday, Dec. 17, and Tuesday, Dec. 18, in The Times Center and Wednesday, Dec. 19, at College Point. More details will follow soon. I plan to have Town Hall meetings in Boston and at the IHT as soon as possible.
Thompson spoke to ITV on his first day at The New York Times. “I’m very saddened by recent events at the BBC,” he said, two days after his successor as Director General resigned. “I’ve got no doubt it will once again regain the public’s trust, both in the U.K. and around the world.”
“I believe that it will not in any way affect my job which I’m starting right now as chief executive of the New York Times Company,” he said.