Announcement from CEO of POLITICO Media Group Goli Sheikholeslami and Global Editorial Chair John Harris:
We have a personnel announcement that is a little different than usual — one filled with exciting implications for everyone at POLITICO. Francesca Barber, an accomplished publishing executive at The New York Times, will be joining us this spring in a newly created position: executive director, global newsroom strategy.
Francesca is an extraordinary talent, who also has experience before the Times at Google and a technology-based travel start-up. She will start on May 1, and report jointly to me and John Harris in his capacity as global editorial chair.
There is some important context behind this hire, so we hope you will read on. This move speaks not only to the work that Francesca will do, but to the work that everyone here must also do to expand our reach, impact, and value to our target audience in multiple venues around the world.
We began speaking to Francesca several months ago and made clear that our aim is not simply to grow our publication by expanding our journalistic impact but to transform it — step by step. This will require a steady succession of considered moves over the next few years that ensure we are successfully advancing these priorities. Transformation is the only way we will meet our ambitious goals in a real and impactful way. Or, said another way, checking boxes will not cut it.
This is the first of those steps.
Our strategic plan calls for aggressive growth by focusing on advancing our key priorities:
Francesca is eminently qualified to help us achieve the last, and perhaps most ambitious of these priorities — building one transatlantic POLITICO. We have spoken quite often about what it means to be “a truly global publication.” While no shortage of work is being done across our newsrooms and business teams in the U.S. and Europe to make these connections, someone with a unique set of skills needs to take the wheel and drive us forward, serving as the nexus of the transformation, making the right decisions at the pace required to make sure that we execute on the vision. This is Francesca’s top priority and remit.
This not a small transformation. It is a big job and is not the work of any single arm of the publication. It involves ALL OF THEM and all of YOU — journalistic and publishing professionals alike. This imperative is what led us to search for a person like Francesca, whose job will sit at the intersection of editorial and business, and whose background makes her fluent in many diverse dimensions of what successful publications do. Her dual reporting structure reflects the fact that she will partner with key leaders on both our editorial and business teams to swiftly advance big and small projects required to truly be one transatlantic publication.
During our discussions, Francesca met with Matt Kaminski and Jamil Anderlini and has their enthusiastic support. Her first assignment will be to work closely with them, as well as business leaders, to meet one of the goals of the strategic plan: Heightening POLITICO’s profile for the most agenda-setting transatlantic coverage.
She is part of a succession of talented and deeply experienced new arrivals — including Mark Dekan, Beth Diaz, Rebecca Haase and Rachel Loeffler — who were attracted to POLITICO because they see this as an opportunity unique to POLITICO, one that will vault a successful publication to a dramatically new level of value and impact.
Francesca has an itinerant background, growing up in Washington D.C., Brussels, London and New York, where she currently lives with her family. She joined The Times in 2014 as part of a new Audience team in the newsroom after publication of the Innovation Report. During her tenure, she held positions in Audience, Video and most recently International. In her most recent role as Director of International Strategy and Operations, Francesca worked across the global newsrooms in Seoul, London, and New York, where she was able to leverage her editorial, digital and personnel expertise.
She played a leading role in reshaping the global operation; building and operationalizing new internal structures, reallocating headcount and budget, and setting goals to better align with coverage priorities. She also worked closely with staff on career mobility and team management.
Prior to International, she spent six years in the award-winning Video Department across multiple disciplines: audience, product, strategy, and operations. In that time, Francesca helped transform the unit into an indispensable part of the New York Times and an industry leader in digital storytelling. This was recognized when the team was part of four Pulitzer Prize awards from 2019 - 2021 and won nine Emmy awards from 2016 - 2021.
With this background, it is obvious why we would be drawn to Francesca. Equally important, however, is why she is attracted to POLITICO.
Our discussions made clear she regards being at a high-growth publication — at this fluid moment when we have so much potential to build on what we already do well AND explore new possibilities no one dreamed of at POLITICO’s founding — as a singular opportunity.
She’s exactly right, and that singular opportunity is also one that we hope everyone here will embrace in the months and years ahead.
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