Opening new channels in the age of Internet news
James Nixon Jr., MBA '05, Director, Product Strategy and Partnerships at CNN Digital
Part of that innovation involves CNN iReport – a citizen journalism platform that Nixon says has incredible potential for fostering consumer interaction and CNN content.
“People submit content and we run it, so we can get news before every other organization,” Nixon says of iReport.
Nixon helped create the strategy for the next incarnation of iReport, soon to go live. The new edition will enable CNN consumers to submit stories and journalism pieces to iReport from Web sites outside of CNN's domain – an opportunity Nixon hopes will help the platform grow rapidly. Nixon noted that iReport was crucial to CNN's breaking coverage of Japans tsunami and nuclear crisis and the Egyptian protests earlier this year.
Platforms like iReport are just part of Nixon's larger strategy for helping CNN to meet consumer demands for up-to-the minute information, and to maintain its standing as a news leader in the digital age.
Nixon emphasized that television has been much less affected by the growth of the Internet when compared to other forms of media such as music, radio, and print. He cited the example of Napster, the first widely-used, peer-to-peer file-sharing program, as a technological bellwether that many in the music industry failed to heed. Nixon aims to help CNN lead the way in online media and enhance overall user experience on the Web site, rather than react to changes after the fact. “Whenever a traditional company does not innovate fast enough, it becomes obsolete,” Nixon says.
In addition to innovating CNN Digital's strategy, Nixon is also in charge of CNN's content partnerships with such publications as Rolling Stone and People Magazine, playing a crucial role in CNN's editorial direction. “I interact with editorial daily,” Nixon says. “All of the strategies I recommend need to be completely in line with the editorial direction of our organization. Without that, the strategy will not work.” Nixon, who worked as a technology consultant at Microsoft before attending Johnson, has a broad background in technology. His interest in digital media began while working as a strategic consultant at Deloitte, when a specific case involving phone service and Internet provider Embarq ( now known as CenturyLink) introduced him to the innumerable options available at the convergence of digital media and communication. After helping Embarq increase its profitability by offering more mobile options, he turned his attention to his own career and realized he would need to supplement his experience in technology with media legwork.
He moved to the New York Times Company as a strategic planning manager to get this media experience – a career move he says paid off. When CNN gave him the chance to strategize in digital media “on a global scale,” he jumped at the opportunity.
“Everything I've done in the past has strategically positioned me to where I am now,” Nixon says.
Part of this strategic positioning includes his Johnson experience, which Nixon says he relished for its breadth and flexibility. Nixon says he focused on finance and marketing at Johnson, with a concentration in international strategy. He also took advantage of an exchange program in Spain, and took classes at the School of Hotel Administration.
“I really learned a lot. I liked the ability to have my own customized program, and the fact that we could take classes outside Johnson,” Nixon says. “The flexibility was fantastic. Johnson has given me the tools and foundation to be successful.”
Brendan Doyle '12 is an intern in Marketing and Communications at Johnson.