But The New York Times is not the BBC. It does not have the scale and the funding, it does not have the brand recognition or the technology or content or users. It does have an enormous challenge to its future and a tiny gap of opportunity. The Times’s future does not depend on one person, and if it did, it would not be the CEO. But Thompson arrives at a crucial moment. The paper needs more than just a continuation of strategy and regime; it has no future as a local newspaper and its ultimate ambition must lie with global presence and development. If Thompson manages more than failure, it will, in some ways, be an astonishing achievement.


Emily Bell is director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a member of CJR's Board of Overseers.