A media executive and journalist with more than 20 years experience in the industry, Vivian Schiller joined NPR as President and CEO on January 5, 2009. She comes to NPR from The New York Times Company where she served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of NYTimes.com.
Schiller began her career as a simultaneous Russian interpreter in the former Soviet Union, which led her to documentary production work for Turner Broadcasting. Schiller discusses with IU School of Journalism Professor Mike Conway the transition she made from her first career as a simultaneous interpreter in Russia to a career in media.
Schiller spent four years as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Discovery Times Channel, a joint venture of The New York Times and Discovery Communications. Under her leadership, Discovery Times Channel tripled its distribution while achieving critical acclaim for its award winning journalistic programming.
Prior to that, Schiller served as Senior Vice President of CNN Productions, where she led CNN’s long-form programming efforts. Documentaries and series produced under her auspices earned multiple honors, including two Peabody Awards, two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, and five Emmys.
During her tenure at The New York Times, she led the day-to-day operations of NYTimes.com, the largest newspaper website on the Internet, overseeing product, technology, marketing, classifieds, strategic planning, and business development.
Schiller recalls enjoying her time at the New York Times, but when the opportunity came up at NPR and after realizing what an exciting time it was for public media, she decided she couldn’t pass up the opportunity; for Schiller, it was about being in the right place at the right time.
She believes whole-heartedly that the role of NPR is “to make sure that we hold fast to quality journalism and quality storytelling in the midst of a revolution in the news media that’s underway today.”
Schiller expounds on how exciting it is to see NPR listeners connecting to NPR in a very personal way. She views it as NPR’s responsibility to support and provide resources to local public radio stations to promote a continued personal relationship between listeners and NPR programming. Schiller believes the strength of public radio is local stations, and so maintaining a good relationship with listeners and drawing a more diverse audience is key for future success and growth.