“Moments like this, this extraordinary and terrible experience which this country and the world is going through, is a moment for news organizations and newspapers to find audiences and prove the value of trustworthy news,” Thompson told CNN’s Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday.
“We’re seeing a really big — we think, transient — hit to advertising,” Thompson said. “The explanation is very simple: (It’s) the massive, almost medically induced coma which so much of the economy has gone into has a direct effect on advertising.”
However, Thompson said the Times is better able to weather this revenue crunch than those of years past, as the company now relies on advertising for only a quarter of its total revenue. Far more important now are its subscriptions, where Thompson said the company is experiencing “really quite astonishing growth.”
He acknowledged that many news organizations are facing hard times, but implored them to look toward the future.
“If papers have got enough … cash on hand to keep going through the crisis, I think they can build audiences and build loyalty and build recognition,” Thompson said.
The crisis could be a chance for newsrooms to innovate, he said, adding that the Times continues to hire in journalism and digital product roles such as engineering and data science.
“I recognize that’s very hard for other media players,” he said. “But I have to say, if it’s humanly possible, this is the moment when the world needs great journalism. It needs newsrooms working 24/7. It need journalism now.”