NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller claims she is an optimist, yet she opened her keynote address at mediabistro.com’s UGCX conference with a scary premise. “I’d like to start by really, really depressing you,” she said.
Schiller then took a moment to run quickly through some sad statistics of the media industry — statistics we know all too well. Like, for example, 11 percent of full time news jobs were cut in 2008. Or that major newspapers in San Francisco and Boston lose about $1 million a day. Ouch.
“This is pretty grim stuff,” Schiller admitted. “But we’re in the middle of such a change, an evolution or revolution in the news business.”
Schiller said she remains optimistic because new models will rise out of the ashes of the dying media business model.
In this moment of evolution or revolution, Schiller, who took the reins of NPR at the beginning of the year, sees potential for her nonprofit news organization. “Our plans for going forward is more,” she said.
For the time being, NPR is “in constant innovation mode,” Schiller added. The organization has recently hired a senior editor to focus on investigative coverage, it’s focusing more on local journalism and working on launching a public media digital platform that can showcase the work of not just NPR but other public media organizations as well.
It seems like Schiller leads by encouraging her staffers to experiment, try trial and error and see what sticks. Channeling Clay Shirky, she said, “Nothing might work but everything might.”