The New York Times Building, on 620 Eighth Avenue, in Manhattan, is a modern structure by renown architect Renzo Piano, built largely in glass.
Diego Ribadeneira, an editor on the Times’ Metro desk, explained the symbolism. “We want our readers to see how we are transparent”, he said, adding that The New York Times is no place for hiding secrets as you can see right through its offices. “We want our readers to trust us,” he said, explaining the architecture of the building and why it is “transparent”.
Last Tuesday, Mr. Ribadeneira took the Bronx Beat’s staff on a tour of the Times’ newsroom. He gave a brief overview of the building, shared some of his working experience and gave a little advice for upcoming journalists.
Mr. Ribadeneira, who says he has been working in journalism for twenty-eight years now, was born and raised in Queens and always knew he wanted to become a journalist. He has been working for the New York Times for ten years now.
After a quick tour on the third floor, which hosts most news departments, Mr. Ribadeneira led the students into the “Page One” conference room, where the paper’s top editors hold two meetings daily: one that begins at 10 a.m. and another at 4 p.m.
“This is the time top editors gather to talk about the day, the web and what’ s coming up,” said Mr. Ribadeneira.
In the room, Mr. Ribaneira took questions from the Bronx Beat reporters, discussing the challenges of journalism in his digital area, the best and worst parts about journalism and the traits he looks for in aspiring reporters.
Asked about the best and worst parts of his job, Mr. Ribadeneira replied: “the best thing is just coming to work… because you can never predict what is going on, I love what I do.”
When he was asked what is the worst part and best part of his job, Mr. Ribadeneira confidently replied, “there is no worst part and the best part is coming to work everyday.”
He went on to say, “the most challenging part is balancing work world and my world outside of work.” Mr. Ribadeneira mentioned that he used to work 16-18 hours per day and that during Hurricane Sandy he stayed in a hotel in the city for three days instead than going home to New Jersey. “Journalists work 24 hours a day a lot of times,” he added.
Asked if he makes a lot of money, he laughed and said, “if I wanted to make money, I would have turned left to the school of business instead of going into journalism”. Mr. Ribadeneira attended Northwestern University in Chicago, for its strong journalism program. “If you wanna make money, journalism is not the field you want to be in,” he added.
Instead, Mr. Ribadeneira said he chose his job because he was passionate about it. His love for journalism was evident in his answers, as was his pride in The New York Times’ work.
“People trust the Times to be accurate, the goal is to be accurate not first” he said, and added that, as an editor, he is dedicated to making sure that The New York Times remains known as a reliable source of news. “No one does it like the Times,” he said.
He further discussed his personal transition from being a reporter to becoming an editor. “A part of being a good editor is having a good relationship with your reporter,” he said.
He then discussed the Times’ global reach and its plans to adapt to changing times in the media industry. The New York Times is a very famous newspaper, not just locally but also internationally, he explained. With society transitioning rapidly into a digital era, The New York Times is doing its best to keep up and maintain its reputation. In doing so, top editors there have come up with a plan that outlines the four most important points to focus on: global reach, social media, mobile technology and video.
“Global because one third of the New York Times’ readers live outside of the United States,” Mr. Ribadeneira said.
The second highlight is social media because we are in the age of technology where information is passed through social media outlets such as Facebook, twitter, and instagram, Mr. Ribadeneira explained.
“Social media too is very important. That’s one of the ways we try to reach the younger generation,” he said.
“Mobile devices are another one. The growth in mobile traffic is incredible. Most people read the Times from their phones,” said Mr. Ribadeneira.
The last thing he mentioned – and kept emphasizing – was the importance of videos, which is “one of the four pillars” of the company.
“People are mad for videos,” he commented.
“We’re in the middle of a seismic change,” Mr. Ribadeneira added. Although the Times has an online news website and a print version, he explained, “the Times thinks of itself as one platform and it doesn’t distinguish between web and newspaper.”
He also explained that, a few years ago, the Times made most of its money through advertising. Companies would pay the Times to have their advertisements placed the paper. “Now it’s different,” Mr. Ribadeneira said. “Now it’s from circulation. It’s been a huge success, beyond what the expectation the Times had set for itself,” he said, explaining the pay wall system the Times recently introduced on its website.
“No one really thought that people would pay for news,” he added, explaining that a problem for newspapers was that people had become used to reading the news for free online. “But readers are willing to pay for quality news.”
Mr. Ribadeneira also gave students some advice. He started out by saying, “if you want to be a journalist you should read quality journalism and be well rounded.” “Read widely and not just the New York Times,” he added, “write as much as you can; even great writers struggle sometimes.”
He said that ideal candidates have far-ranging interests and much curiosity. “We look for someone that has the ability to put together a sentence,” he added.