Watch Vivian Schiller at the 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival spend ‘2.5 Minutes With genConnect.’ We connected with the Chief Digital Officer at NBC News.
Click the play button below to watch genConnect Creative Director Kelly Hayes interview Schiller on her new position at NBC News and the importance of storytelling:
VIVIAN SCHILLER: Thank you. I’m very excited about it.
KELLY HAYES: Now, you’ve been around the media landscape for quite some time. Worked for the New York Times, CNN, and obviously at NPR, running NPR. How is this job going to be different for you?
VIVIAN SCHILLER: Well, first of all, it brings together everything that I’ve done at various stops in my career. I started my career– my first 18 years of my career in media, I was in cable television news. And then I left television news, and had some incredible opportunities and jobs. I ran nytimes.com for the New York Times, and then as president and CEO of NPR.
But here I feel like I can bring together my understanding and my love of television news, and the power of it, together with what’s happening in the digital world, to work with my colleagues at NBC News to try to make it as successful and relevant on all platforms as it is on television.
KELLY HAYES: When you sat down with Steve Capus, president of NBC News, to discuss the situation, what did you think were the greatest assets you would have going into this thing to work with?
VIVIAN SCHILLER: Well, that’s what’s so great about it. First of all, the people that work at NBC News are fantastic. And I know you would expect me say that. But they really are. Starting with Steve Capus, who is the head of NBC News, and all the incredibly talented correspondents from NBC News all over the world.
But we’re starting from a position of success, and hopefully going to go to greater success. NBC News has the number one morning news show with The Today Show, the number one evening show, the Nightly News with Brian Williams, and Meet the Press is the number one Sunday show. And all these incredible assets around the world in international reporting.
So the idea is, how to take it from a position of relevance and strength to an even higher position of relevant strength on other platforms, in addition to television.
KELLY HAYES: Now, when you say other platforms, social media is obviously a part of this?
VIVIAN SCHILLER: Oh, absolutely. You name it. And that’s what I’ve been doing here, at the Aspen Ideas Festival, is speaking about social media.
NBC News already has great strength with MSNBC.com, which is a joint venture with Microsoft. And they do phenomenal work, and are very successful. But the idea is to think, even more so, how we can engage the audience through social media.
How to work with the incredibly talented reporters and producers to try to extend their ability to report through new tools like Twitter, and other things that are coming along the way. How to engage with the audience, so that we get the benefit of the audience’s knowledge, and passion, and interest, to make the way that we deliver news and information a much more immersive experience.
KELLY HAYES: That’s very interesting. We talk a lot about technology, especially here, there’s a lot of talk about technology. But I think it really goes back to storytelling. And now, you’re the daughter of an editor for Reader’s Digest. That’s old media, but still, I’m sure that there are things that you learned there that are applicable for what you’re doing in your new venture.
VIVIAN SCHILLER: Well, there is one universal that goes back to prehistoric days with cave paintings, and that is, no matter what the platform, whether it’s a cave painting, or Twitter, or Facebook, or what have you, it’s the power of storytelling to engage people about what might be interesting to them and what’s important. The great promise of news is to try to find the nexus– or at least, of quality news organizations, is to try to find the nexus of the important and the interesting, to make the important interesting. And, well, not necessarily the interesting important, because there’s some interesting things that are not important at all. But–
KELLY HAYES: Still fun, though.
VIVIAN SCHILLER: Yes, still fun. Yes, that’s true. But to make the important interesting. And storytelling is universal, even in 140 characters.
KELLY HAYES: Well, we will look forward to following the Vivian Schiller story as you move along. Are you ready to get back to work?
VIVIAN SCHILLER: I am ready to get back to work. Although it’s hard to imagine leaving this beautiful place.
KELLY HAYES: Good luck in your new venture at NBC. Vivian Schiller, who is going to be the new chief digital officer for NBC News, starting another week or so. You can find out more about her at genConnect.com, or go to AIFestival.org. Thank you so much, Vivian.
VIVIAN SCHILLER: Thank you.Vivian is the former CEO of NPR and former senior vice president of NYTimes.com. She was the first general manager of Discovery Times Channel (now Investigation Discovery) from 2002 – 2006. In June 2011, Schiller joined NBC News as the chief digital officer. In 2009, Washingtonian magazine named Schiller one of the District of Columbia’s 100 most powerful women.
genConnect is credentialed press at the 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo., where we are interviewing the premier speakers and attendees at the conference. For more of our video interviews and articles from the Ideas Festival, click here.