The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly’s legacy newsroom, is welcoming its second New Yorker to the leadership team this year: Matt Boggie will become the first person in the company’s history to hold the title of chief technology and product officer.
Boggie joined the Inquirer in March after time as CTO of theSkimm and Axios and holding the role of executive director of research and development for The New York Times for six years, which he called a “transformative experience” of his career. There, he told Technical.ly, he found the freedom to experiment and gather signals about where news and technology was heading.
For now, the exec is still working remotely from his home in Brooklyn — he won’t be moving to Philadelphia but plans to work in the local office a few days each week — and has been virtually meeting the roughly 50 people his role now oversees, including product, engineering and design. He said he believes this new combined tech and product role at the Inquirer was meant to address that those two aspects of the organization are so closely tied.
“The best way to describe it is that there’s a lot of product work in understanding what’s possible, technically,” Boggie said. “And vise versa. Having those two things closely aligned is important.”
The main goal for the role is solving specific content needs for the Inquirer’s audience, whether that be in building tech for projects, newsletters, the publication’s app or its website. From the product perspective, Boggie said, he’s a firm believer that “if we solve a user’s problem, [the company and the reader] both get more out of that.”
In the first few months in the role, Boggie has been working on a cross-functional approach to teams to get marketing, ad sales and editorial all working closer together to “tighten the feedback loop” and be able to build things more quickly. And although much of Boggie’s experience is in tech for national publications, he’s excited about the advantages working for a local publication will bring, namely the very clear sense of audience the publication has.
“They understand who the readers are now and in the future,” he said. “Nationally, it’s harder to reach all those people with a single story.”
And although it’s been harder to get to know his team members because all interactions have had to be virtual, the coronavirus pandemic has shown Boggie exactly why working in a news organization is important work. He called this time “a really interesting point as an industry and a company.”
The Inquirer has gained readership as folks want to stay informed on the pandemic day-to-day, he said, and looking to the next several months, that will continue to be just as important.
“I feel we’re building that trust, and as we look at next few months, with potential changes in our lives and in the world, we’re going to continue to earn that trust,” Boggie said, “and help [readers] navigate their world.”
Also joining this year was publisher and CEO Lisa Hughes, the first woman to hold the title in the organization’s 190 years, who worked most recently as publisher of The New Yorker.