At its Digital NewFront presentation in April, the New York Times flaunted its power and influence with a “Glengarry Glen Ross”-worthy sales pitch that reached a comedic crescendo when general manager of video Rebecca Howard jokingly boasted that “when we ask Benedict Cumerbatch and Reese Witherspoon to make out on film… they make out.”
The Times could also point to more serious and concrete markers of success. In an interview last November, Howard noted that ad revenue for non-advertorial video had grown nearly 70% over the preceding 12 months.
But it seems that behind closed doors the Gray Lady was less than satisfied with its video efforts.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Howard (pictured, right) is set to depart the Times at the end of the month, and the video unit’s managing editor Bruce Headlam is leaving to take a “senior role” in the newsroom.
The news was first reported by Capital.
Reached by phone in New Zealand, where she is on vacation, Howard did not comment on her departure. Headlam did not respond to emails.
Times digital chief Kinsey Wilson issued a memo yesterday stating that Howard is leaving “to focus on emerging media platforms.” Times executive editor Dean Baquet followed with a memo announcing Headlam’s reassignment, along with the appointment of newsroom masthead editor Steve Duenes to oversee the department. He added that director of video operations Zander Baron will lead the business side of the department on an interim basis, while Alex MacCallum, assistant managing editor in charge of audience-engagement efforts, “lead(s) an examination of the structure of the video operation.”A former NPR exec, Wilson joined the Times in February to lead its companywide digital product and technology operations and was appointed EVP of product and technology the following month.
Howard joined the Times in March 2013 following a two-year stint at as head of development for AOL/Huffington Post Media Group. As the Times’ first-ever general manager of video, she oversaw content strategy and execution, including partnerships, marketing, branding, promotion and on- and off-site distribution. She also sought out potential long-form television and film projects with the help of the Times’ agency reps at WME.
Working alongside former Times media editor Headlam (pictured, left), who was appointed managing editor of video in November 2013, Howard steered their efforts into popular online video verticals such as business, entertainment, fashion/beauty, health, sports and technology. But some of their more successful clips were mini docs more in tune with the Times’ serious journalistic side, such as “Surviving an ISIS Massacre” and “21st-Century Concentration Camps” and the videos Ben Solomon contributed to the Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Ebola crisis in West Africa.