5 Questions for's Vivian Schiller

Before being named to her current post of senior vice president and general manager, in May 2006, Schiller was senior vice president, television and video for The New York Times and also executive vice president and general manager for the Discovery Times Channel, a joint venture with Discovery Communications.

Prior to joining the The New York Times Company in 2002, she worked for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. as executive vice president for CNN Productions. She led the CNN Newsgroup's long-form programming efforts, including the development and launch of "People in the News" (with People magazine) and "CNN Presents." During her tenure with CNN, she received five Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards.

Schiller earned her bachelor's degree in Russian and Soviet Studies from Cornell University in 1983 and a master's degree in Russian from Middlebury College in 1984.

TimesSelect, putting New York Times columnists behind a pay wall, has been one of the most closely watched Web initiatives in the newspaper business. Has the response met your goals?

>It's exceeded expectations. We're closing in on half a million home subscribers [who get free access to TimesSelect with their print subscriptions] and over 220,000 stand-alone subscribers. In March, we opened it up for free to college students and have gotten 72,000 .edu subscriptions so far. We really want to get the next generation to start with The New York Times now so they'll become customers later in life.

Can you discuss key digital marketing efforts the Times has initiated in the last year or so and what's coming up?

>We've launched a huge number of new products in the last year - including a new travel site; our luxury real estate site, Great Homes; Times Reader, a new online product; our new mobile site; a new small-business section; and holiday films and awards season coverage on

We're now starting to make headway into other areas such as health and politics. We recently added a feature to our politics site where you can segment campaign contributions by any county you want. It's very cool. So we're trying to offer more of those interactive features that use deep database technologies.

How do you determine which sections of the Times to focus on for business development? How do you approach the marketing of new online sections?

>It's a threefold process. The first question is, "Is this an area of editorial strength for The New York Times?" It has to meet that criteria. We wouldn't launch a vertical about celebrity gossip, for instance. The second question is whether there's strong advertiser demand for it. Third, "Is there an opportunity for us to make a mark or does somebody else already dominate that niche?"

Our online marketing plans always include a mix of display ads, e-mail and search. And we have the luxury of promoting our new products in the pages of The New York Times. Ads on our Web site drive a ton of traffic among sections. As far as cash out the door, the lion's share goes to search. We love search engine marketing and buy tens of thousands of keywords.

There's been no shortage of pessimism surrounding the future of the newspaper business. What's the biggest challenge the Times faces in maintaining sustainable growth?

>Much has been written about the trials and tribulations of the newspaper business. Actually, there's more innovation going on here today than ever before. Print isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But we've been quite vocal about rebalancing our business and putting a lot of resources into digital because we recognize that it's critical to be available on any medium that anybody's ever going to want. That's our focus ... that and hiring smart technologists, who we can't bring in fast enough!

If you weren't in your current job, what would you like to do?

>I'd be traveling to every journalism school in the country preaching the importance of including technology as part of the curriculum. The future of our business depends on a next generation of journalists harnessing the power of new media to exciting and dynamic tools to report and tell stories. Either that - or I want Frank Bruni's job as Times food critic.

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