The New York Times announced Wednesday Meredith Kopit Levien, the newspaper’s chief operating officer, will become its next president and chief executive officer. Levien will succeed Mark Thompson, 62, who has served as CEO since 2012, on Sept. 8.
Levien, 49, will become the youngest CEO in the media organization’s 168-year history. She joined The Times in 2013 as head of advertising and was promoted to executive vice president and chief revenue officer in 2015, where her role expanded to overseeing the subscription business as well as advertising. In 2017, she was named COO.
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to lead The New York Times,” Levien said in a statement. “I see a big opportunity to expand journalism’s role in the lives of millions more people around the world, and to invest in product and technology innovation that engages our readers and grows our business.”
The leadership transition comes amid a turbulent time in media, as the industry suffers from the pandemic’s economic fallout. Many media companies — newspapers, magazines and digital media — have cut costs through layoffs, furloughs and other measures in recent months months. In May, The Times reported its advertising revenue fell by double digits for the first quarter of 2020. The company laid off 68 people, mostly in advertising, in June.
As brands pulled back their spending during the pandemic, The Times’ focus on subscription revenue — an effort Levien helped lead — improved the company’s financial situation. The Times surpassed 6 million subscriptions in April. It set a goal in 2019 of 10 million subscribers by 2025.
In an interview with The Times about her promotion, Levien said she planned to continue investing in its journalism but also wanted to add digital games and other non-news products. The Times has amassed hundreds of thousands of subscribers over recent years to its cooking and crossword apps.
In a statement, Thompson said, “I’ve chosen this moment to step down because we have achieved everything I set out to do when I joined The Times Company eight years ago — and because I know that in Meredith, I have an outstanding successor who is ready to lead the company on to its next chapter.”
Levien’s tenure at The Times has been marked by a discrimination lawsuit filed in 2016, which alleged she and Thompson created “an environment rife with discrimination.” The Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy said at the time the suit was “without merit.” The suit was settled in December, according to The Times.
Thompson told The Times he has no immediate plans on his next career move.