This article is part of an ongoing series profiling participants in the PubTech Connect conference, presented on April 20, 2017 by PW and the NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Publishing.
New York City is a place where history meets the future. That’s why the opening keynote at PubTech Connect brings together the driving forces behind innovation and technology at two of the city’s oldest institutions--the city government itself, and the New York Times. Gotham meets the Grey Lady when New York City’s Chief Digital Officer Sree Sreenivasan and Kinsey Wilson, Editor, Innovation & Strategy and Executive Vice President, Product & Technology for the New York Times discuss how their two monolithic institutions are leading the way into the digital future.
Bringing change to a giant institution with layers of bureaucracy and plenty of old habits is no easy task. Sreenivasan and Wilson have each had to assess the needs of the constituencies they serve — New York's government and citizens, and the worldwide readership of one of the biggest media organizations of all time — to come up with technology and business solutions that serve those needs and anticipate what’s next.
Sreenivasan told The Indian Express that he sees his role as “ mak[ing] New York the most tech-friendly, the most transparent and most digitally equitable city in the world.” It’s not hard to find evidence of his work all over, from increased Wifi in the subways to increased social media presences amongst government agencies and the growth of New York’s Silicon Alley. And under Wilson, the New York Times has rolled out a host of new digital products, from its VR films to all manner of interactive stories online as well as new digital subscription plans.
They each brought a wealth of experience helping other organizations go digital to their new roles; it’s the kind of innovative thinking that will lead publishing into the next decade and beyond. After serving as Chief Digital Officer of the Museum of Modern Art and of Columbia University, Sreenivasan was appointed to his current post on August 1, 2016. In a statement about the appointment, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “To move our city’s digital ecosystem into the 21st century, we need to ensure our city’s resources are at the fingertips of every New Yorker. " That means, according to the statement, that Sreenivasan is tasked with “launch[ing] digital products that encourage civic engagement, increase government transparency, and support New York City's thriving tech ecosystem.”
Wilson came to the New York Times after working as executive editor at USA Today, followed by a transformative stint spearheading digital strategy at NPR. At the New York Times, Kinsey was initially slated to oversee digital in the newsroom, but was rapidly elevated to an executive role in early 2015, overseeing both the content and business aspects of digital at the New york Times. His emphasis has always been on meeting--or finding--readers wherever they are in the growing digital media landscape. In a New York Times story about his appointment Wilson noted how readers “are inundated with information every hour of the day except when they’re sleeping. That needs to inform the way we present the news,” adding that “how people experience the New York Times, the quality of that experience, is just as important as our news report.”
Sreenivasan and Wilson will kick off PubTech Connect with a keynote conversation about how their two titanic New York institutions are imagining their digital future. Learn more and buy tickets here.