'It's no longer enough for readers to love our journalism': Behind New York Times' latest campaign

It comes as the company reports a strong Q3 -- having added 203,000 digital-only subscriptions against the same period last year.

"There's never been a more important time for independent journalism."

Those are the words of David Rubin, head of brand at The New York Times, which has launched its first international campaign to run in movie theaters and on TV channels outside of the U.S. in its biggest drive yet to rally subscriptions.

"The Truth Is Hard" series, created in partnership with Droga5, showcases the extreme lengths journalists go to when investigating stories.

"It's important our readers know The Times believes in holding power to account, without fear or favor; that producing high-quality independent journalism matters; and that supporting that kind of journalism through paying for a subscription, is crucial," Rubin told Campaign US.

"In previous campaigns, we've explored the importance of facts and understanding, we've looked at the role of signature journalism to surface critical issues, whereas this current iteration is more intentional in our direct ask of people to subscribe to The Times in order to support original, independent, deeply reported journalism."

The series features recent consequential scoops from Times journalists across the globe, including the persistent work of immigration reporter Caitlin Dickerson, who was the first to report that hundreds of migrant children were being separated from their parents at U.S. borders; a bombshell investigation into President Trump’s dubious tax schemes; a look at the year-long aftermath of Hurricane Maria and; crucial reporting from chief international correspondent Ellen Barry, which uncovered collusion between villagers and political leaders in rural India leading to a woman’s murder and subsequent police arrest.

Each creative execution displays the dedication, rigor and time reporters like Caitlin, Ellen and so many others at The Times commit to in their pursuit of truth and holding power to account.

One film, which will air in the in the coming weeks, examines how public records led Times reporters to more than 100,000 unseen documents over the course of an 18-month investigation. Another takes the viewer through the journey of the newsgathering process --  from conversations with sources and families in the face of repeated government denials, through the fact-checking process to the final published story.

"This campaign comes at a time when anti-press rhetoric is on the rise and news organizations, particularly at the local level, are depleting," Rubin explained.

"A recent Times survey found that almost three-quarters of U.S. news consumers who pay and subscribe to a news source said they believed it has never been more important to support quality journalism.

"It’s no longer enough for readers to love our journalism and come to us for breaking news. Our new campaign demonstrates what it takes to produce quality journalism every day -- it’s worth the effort and worth investing in."

The Times now has more than three million digital-only subscriptions and more than four million total subscriptions, which is twice as many as at the peak of print. NYT journalism is read in every country on Earth and while its domestic audience has doubled in the last five years, its global audience has nearly tripled.

The latest campaign will air globally including -- for the first time -- in U.K. movie theatres including Pearl and Dean and DCM cinemas, on Sky TV as well as Sky, Channel 4 and ITV video-on-demand services, and across social, display and print channels.

Laurie Howell, creative director at Droga5, said: "The first campaign was about reaffirming the importance of the truth, and the second campaign was all about showing the hard work that goes into it. This is the first time we have been able to combine the two and take a more robust approach to telling the story and create something that shows the heart, rigor and perseverance of being a journalist and finding the truth, but also shows the importance of journalism and impact it has on the world."

Today, the company announced third-quarter 2018 diluted earnings per share from continuing operations of $.15 compared with $.20 in the same period of 2017.

Operating profit rose to $41.4 million in Q3 from $31.8 million in the same period of 2017, principally driven by higher digital subscription, digital advertising and other revenues, as well as a gain from a pension liability adjustment, partially offset by higher operating costs.

Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company, said: "This was a strong third quarter for the company. We added 203,000 total net new digital-only subscriptions in the quarter and grew total revenue by eight percent against the same quarter in 2017. We also passed two significant milestones, and now have more than three million digital-only subscriptions and more than four million total subscriptions.

"We’re executing on our subscription-first strategy; this quarter, subscription revenues accounted for nearly two-thirds of the Company’s revenues. We’re investing aggressively in our journalism, product and marketing and are seeing tangible results in our digital growth.

"Turning to advertising, as expected, we are seeing a much stronger second half of the year. We had an exceptional third quarter with digital advertising up 17 percent and growth of seven percent in total advertising."

Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.com , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free