TIME President Keith Grossman Addresses Changing Media Landscapes, Says Paywalls Undermine Democracy

Keith Grossman sits with moderator at event.

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Georgetown McDonough welcomed TIME President Keith Grossman on Sept. 11 to talk about branding and media in the digital age. The event, moderated by Julie Matt (EMBA’20), was part of the Stanton Distinguished Leaders Series. 

Grossman began by discussing the image of TIME as a global media company versus the Time Magazine label. “The brand is 96 years old…the issue is, when you ask people their perception, it is Time Magazine, when in actuality, the magazine is only a part of the TIME brand,” Grossman said. Time Magazine was published by Time, Inc. until Nov. 2018, when it was acquired by TIME USA, LLC.

While Grossman has only been with TIME since July, he emphasized his goal of using the TIME brand to give back to the community. 

“A really rewarding way to think about your job is to use the success in your career to benefit people in society,” he said. “The higher up you are, the more leverage you have to command good in society…I expect myself to reflect good change. An important aspect as you grow in your career is to give back more.”

However, Grossman feels many media companies are going against this mantra by instituting paywalls. “Paywall strategy that news enacts has the potential to undermine democracy,” Grossman said. 

Currently, many media outlets require users to pay a fee in order to read articles on their websites. 

“If all the greatest news outlets put a paywall on their content, they’re creating content for an affluent audience, not the common people,” Grossman said. “If you put it on all the greatest news sources out there, when a consumer wants to access, they won’t go through the process of registering and paying, etc…so they may end up at a source that is not true news.” 

Before working at TIME, Grossman was the global chief revenue officer at Bloomberg Media for nearly three years. He also worked at WIRED for over 10 years. 

Grossman ended the event by speaking about the differences between old and new marketing in media, an industry where he has worked since 2002. 

“An entire generation of marketers and marketing structures is slowly evolving to a new generation who understands what the consumer wants, how they want it, and is willing to take the risk to move things forward,” Grossman said. “The old way of marketing is focused on platform, while the new is based on experience, not the delivery mechanism. The combination of people shifting to that realization plus a new generation of marketers coming to the forefront makes me most excited [for the future].”