The New York Times is remaking its video unit in order to maximize distribution and drum up new streams of advertising revenue.
According to a memo sent to staff Tuesday morning by executive editor Dean Baquet, video has become a “vital part” of the company’s news report.
As a result, the team, which was led by Bruce Headlam for a year and a half, will undergo a shakeup that will bring in “leaders with broader video experience.” Headlam will move to another undisclosed senior role in the newsroom, while Rebecca Howard, former general manager and business leader of video, will leave the company.
For the next month and a half, Baquet and assistant managing editor for audience development Alex MacCallum will analyze the structure of the video division. In the interim, Steve Duenes, a seasoned Times editor who serves as graphics director, will fill Headlam’s job. Zander Baron, director of video operations, will take Howard’s role temporarily.
Like many news organizations, The Times is pushing to optimize its return on investment in video in the face of declining print advertising revenue. While Baquet praised Headlam’s work in bringing to light the Ebola crisis, ISIS coverage and travel programming via video, he noted that he and Callum would spend time searching for that “essential ingredient to the success of digital video.”
One need look no further than The Times’ advertising revenue to see video’s shortcomings.
In the first quarter of 2015 ended March 29, revenue from display advertising, which includes native ads, display, banners and video, fell 7 percent to $136.4 million. Classified ad revenue, which grew 1.9 percent to $9.3 million, helped to slow declines in overall advertising revenues, which slid 5.8 percent to $149.9 million.
Growth in ad revenue is paramount, considering that circulation revenue remained flat in the quarter to $211.5 million. As a result, total revenues fell 1.6 percent to $384.2 million.