You may recall that in mid-April, the Miami-based Knight Foundation, the go-to funders for anything related to the future of journalism, made a generous $1.5 million gift to the Tribune — in part to enable us to create a Tribune Fellows program. Like our friends at Knight, we at the Trib are intensely interested in best practices in nonprofit news and ways in which the economic model supporting public media can be tweaked to provide more plentiful, stable and predictable resources.
These hires, these fellows, would be on the case 24-7; one would have a charge to travel the country and the globe, collecting, chronicling and disseminating juicy bits about all the innovative and impactful (and hopefully replicable) work going on, while the other would be head down, hands in the guts of the Trib's own engine, figuring out what on the business side of our news operation can be made to work better and what additional buckets of revenue can be accessed for the greater good.
After several months of poring over applications and talking to people inside our industry and out, we've chosen our two inaugural fellows, and we couldn't be happier or more eager about the prospect of laboring alongside them.
Our business model fellow will be Tim Griggs, the executive director of cross-platform monetization at The New York Times. In that position, Tim has been responsible for revenue-generating products across all digital platforms (web, tablet, smartphone, email, games and video) and led four product teams: paid products, advertising products, email and e-commerce. In particular, Tim has been an integral part of the Times' successful digital subscription business — in a little more than two years, it's up to nearly 700,000 digital-only subscribers (not counting hundreds of thousands of home delivery subscribers who have signed up for all digital access). Previously he was director of paid products for the Times, and before that its director of strategic planning. In nearly 15 years with The New York Times Co., Tim was also executive editor of one of its regional publications, the Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News. A Maryland native, Tim has an undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech.
Our best practices fellow will be Jake Batsell, an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University who formerly reported for The Dallas Morning News and the Seattle Times and has been hard at work for more than a year on a book about the evolution and revolution in the news industry. (It's called Engaged Journalism: Rethinking News in an Era of Digitally Empowered Audiences; it's scheduled to be published by Columbia University Press in the fall of 2014.) Jake knows more about who's doing what in our fast-changing world than just about anyone we know. It will be a pleasure, not to mention enormously enlightening, to be a regular visitor to the new website he'll curate as part of his fellowship. A native of Arizona, he has an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and a master's from the University of Texas at Austin.
Jake officially begins with us on Aug. 1; Tim joins Sept. 1. They'll both be based in our Austin office. Please join me and the rest of the Trib family in welcoming them — and wishing them luck.