New York Times CEO Answers: ‘Do You Think It’s Worth Going to J-School?’

A memorable Sun Valley final question from Bloomberg Markets anchor Olivia Sterns.

OliviaSternsMarkThompsonThere’s a certain irony in the fact that the following remarks were made in an open field in Sun Valley, Idaho, where media company billionaires and others have jetted for Allen & Co.’s latest let’s-make-a-deal confab.

Answering Bloomberg Markets anchor Olivia Sterns’ final question, New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson began by saying that based on his visits to journalism schools, “there’s no lack of enthusiasm for becoming a journalist.” Sterns quickly interjected with, “No, but there’s a lack of appetite to pay $92,000 a year.” That steered Thompson to a more wistful place:

“Well I think, obviously, people have got to make a choice. I think the profession, the geometry looks very different. The barriers to entry are much lower; you can do journalism and get it to the entire world from your dorm room…”

“Generally, it’s becoming a more uncertain profession. Thinking about a 20, 30, 40 year career is tougher. And so, it’s different. Becoming a journalist is more like the other creative industries, like becoming an actor, or becoming a novelist, or becoming some other kind of writer. And people love to do that, but you have to accept that it’s not going to have all the benefits of creativity and not for everyone, all the benefits of certainty of money to pay that mortgage.”

Wise words. J-school and The Juilliard School are indeed more closely aligned today than ever. Break a leg… break a meg. All the world’s a stage… all the world’s a smartphone screen. And for those opting for the “J” that involves Pulitzers rather than Oscars, Thompson has crystallized the motivation.