How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Theodore Kim, director of newsroom fellowships and internships, discussed the tech he’s using.
What are your most important tech tools for doing your work and finding people to recruit?
There’s lots of interest in working at The Times, and there are periods when I have to spend hours sifting through applications. Last year, our newsroom fellowship program drew some 5,000 applicants.
So I power through them with a company-owned MacBook Pro at work and my personal MacBook Pro at home. Also a necessity: a 27-inch, 4K LG monitor on my work desk, which I use to spread out multiple job applications onscreen.
The Google suite of apps is critical. I collaborate with some 70 editors over the course of our yearlong fellowship program, and we deploy just about every kind of shared document there is.
In addition, I’m a regular user of headphones during the workday. I pop in Apple AirPods for mobile calls or to listen to podcasts. I also have a pair of fancier Beats Studio 3 noise-canceling headphones that I put on when I require absolute silence or if I want to lose myself in the sounds of Miles Davis.
What surprises you about how younger interns use tech? Anything new you’ve never heard of?
On the whole, I think young people use much of the same tech we all do. But I often see them use it so much faster and smarter, certainly, than I do.
I’m talking about simple things like mastering keyboard shortcuts, being able to type with thumbs really fast or having the ability to sprint through on-screen menus and dialogue boxes with no hesitation. Only people born with digital devices in their hands have that kind of tech familiarity.
Favorite gadgets include his Apple AirPods, his iPhone 11 Pro and his Kindle Oasis.Credit…Haruka Sakaguchi for The New York Times
You’ve had several roles at The Times, including helping with our transition to digital. What stood out to you as the biggest differences between how we used to publish and how we do things today?
The biggest evolution is how stories move through the reporting and editing process. That cycle used to be: Reporter reports and writes. Editors edit. And voilà! It’s published in print and online.
But now baked into that process is a layer of sophisticated digital thinking: What story form should we use? What headline might best capture the essence of my piece? Is my topic searchable? Do we even need to do a written story? Let’s do a podcast instead.
There is now so much information in the world that all media companies, even the biggest ones, are re-evaluating what they bring to the table. It’s about asking ourselves what our value proposition is. And for The Times, our value comes from doing unique, high-impact journalism that is told in ways that sync up with how people are actually consuming content.
You’re a bit of a gear head. What are your favorite gadgets, and what do you do with them?
Oh, gosh. Where do I start?
I definitely fall into the category of “early adopter.” Our house is an Apple Store in miniature. At home, we shuffle between two MacBooks and an iPad Pro. I’m on my second Apple Watch, fifth iPad, seventh iPhone and, I think, 10th Mac. Every drawer in our house has some kind of Apple dongle in it. With all the money we’ve given to Apple, I’m pretty sure we’ve paid for at least part of Tim Cook’s private jet. Surely one of the winglets.
Beyond the Apple stuff, the gadget I use most often is the new Kindle Oasis, Amazon’s 10th-generation e-reader. For my money, it matches printed paper in clarity and experience. I think I’ve owned the last seven generations of Kindles. They are like a fine wine in reverse: The new ones just get better and better.
We also have a smattering of Google products around our home: a Nest thermostat and a Nest security system, a Google mesh Wi-Fi network and a Google Home speaker. Our daughter, 8, and son, 3, have grown quite adept at asking the Google Home funny questions. Our son is barely potty-trained but is already astute enough to declare with the proper volume and inflection, “Hey, Google, play ‘Kids Bop’!”
It’s both adorable and, candidly, a little unnerving.
But our pride and joy from a home gadget perspective is our basement home theater. My wife and I love movies, but we don’t get out to the theater as often as we used to because of the kids and all of our other commitments. So we invested in a 65-inch Sony OLED television. It’s mesmerizing, better than all but the best movie theaters we’ve been to.
In addition, we installed a Sony audio system that projects theater-quality surround sound, including above the listener, as well as a 4K disc player and an Apple TV 4K. While streaming video is obviously the future, there’s still nothing like the jaw-dropping, sonic quality of physical 4K discs. All of our A/V tech, meantime, is connected together with AudioQuest Cinnamon cables. (Yes, good cables really do make a difference in high-end video and audio, and I will die on this hill!)
We all look forward to family movie nights. We’re probably the only family on the block that insists on watching “Hotel Transylvania 3” in Dolby Cinema-quality picture and sound. Or maybe just Dad insists on it.
Mr. Ted with Amelia Nierenberg, center, a reporter in the New York Times fellowship program, and Jahaan Singh, a project manager for the program.Credit…Haruka Sakaguchi for The New York Times
You’re also into digital photography. With the progress that smartphones have made in camera tech over the last several years, do you use a normal camera much these days?
I have the new iPhone 11 Pro (of course). To my eyes, it has the best camera of any phone. That’s useful to me as I take many, many photos. I attended a family wedding recently and took only my iPhone, leaving my DSLR at home. The iPhone yielded pretty good results, especially in capturing 4K video.
Yet as advanced as it is, the new iPhone still doesn’t beat even a low-end DSLR camera, particularly with photos involving motion. I have a full-frame Nikon DSLR camera that I often tote with me on trips or special occasions. I’ve used Nikons for so long that they feel like an extension of my arm.
I sometimes get looks when I take out my Nikon zoom lens, which is the size of a small Chihuahua. But we’re still a few years away from phone cameras achieving the magazine-quality images of the best cameras. When that day comes, and if my purchase history is any guide, I’ll be first in line to get one.