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iProspect x The New York Times: Giving Voice to a Hidden Human Experience

In a conversation that highlighted all of our responsibility in the eradication of Fake News, the impact of Artificial Intelligence on Journalism, and even gave light to the fact that The Vatican has a head of Machine Learning and Blockchain, iProspect Global President, Ruth Stubbs, sat down for a fireside chat with Mark Thompson, CEO and President of the New York Times Company, at Cannes Lions.

Trust, transparency and privacy have never been more topical and for very good reason. Last month the European Union formalized GDPR, creating a global conversation around the protection of personal information. GDPR has ignited a transformational pivot across our industry, driven by renewed focus on truth, authenticity and responsibility. The endemic issues surrounding trust and transparency have never affected so many, so significantly.

At Cannes 2017 there was difficult industry conversation which saw us all reprioritize the entire spectrum of diversity and inclusion. iProspect took a stance in 2017 to discuss the digital divide, the responsibility we all have in changing things, escalate issues, uncover mistreatment and remind people there is a business, and more importantly, a social imperative when it comes to bridging the digital and diversity gap.


Opening on the state of public perception of news media in the world today, Thompson addressed the rise of the responsible news and content consumer. "There are lots of thoughtful people out there who are intrigued, but also puzzled and frightened by the disruption that the world is going through. But they want the tools and information to make up their own mind about what is happening and that demand will grow, not diminish."

Thompson explained how transformation has played a key role in The New York Times, with focus on the specific launch of The Daily, a daily news podcast hosted by Times political journalist Michael Barbaro. With 3.8 million individual listeners, Thompson ensures that this is "journalism, but in a new format." Branching into further new formats, Thompson also discussed the launch of The Weekly, a new TV show in partnership with Hulu and FX.

When Stubbs challenged Thompson on the relationship and power between global tech and media platforms and consumer responsibility, he responded, "It is constantly changing, and with speed." He then placed the focus back on the importance of consumer experience. "The fundamental issue is that citizens have too little transparency on how choices are made. Algorithms and optimization are complicated. The public do not have a detailed understanding of what they're opting out of, and what they are being asked for."

The advance of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence clearly plays a transformative impact on both the advertising and news industries. Stubbs commenting "Automation is ubiquitous across all that we do. The clear benefits are efficiencies and greater time spent thinking, but there has also be an exponential increase in fraud. The more intelligent we become, the more intelligent the bad actors become and we have to be careful about them slipping through the cracks."

Societal good has been a key part of The New York Times' central tenet, but never more importantly that the current socio-political climate.  "The Truth is hard. It's hard to get to the bottom of things. The effort of reporting and the effort to get to the truth." Thompson commented. "Without professional journalists, voices would not be heard and the world might not look like how it does. We give voice to a hidden human experience."

Thompson ended with an imperative that can apply to us all as we move through these new times: "We have to go out and find our audience. Tactics. Weapons. Devices. You can't assume they will find you. Go and find them!"


View the entire discussion here: