NYTimes Innovates By Interviewing … Fabio

Actor known for his long blond locks on list of more than 350 experts Times turned to for innovation memo.

The Jill Abramson firing continues to gain wide attention in media circles. Buzzfeed released an exclusive story linking it to a 96-page internal memo about innovation. That memo showed the Times willing to consult with at least 354 people inside and outside the organization.

Along with one highly unusual choice – actor/model Fabio. Fabio, that’s right, Fabio. The Italian actor known to many for his “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” commercials in the 1990s is nestled in the midst of some of the top names in journalism.

Page 10 of that memo lists everyone the committee interviewed on the subject. There were many names on the list that are to be expected; a litany of journalists from many media companies including Steve Brill, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Henry Blodget and Ali Velshi made the list.

The list includes no bio information, so many of those consulted could be other people. But not Fabio who is listed by only his first name. Fabio, according to the Internet Movie Database, has 21 acting credits to his name including: “Zoolander,” “The Bold and the Beautiful” and the Woody Allen comedy “Scenes from a Mall.”

Thankfully, most of the names on the list made a bit more sense. The Times interviewed at least 227 staffers and at least another 126 people outside, along with Fabio. Although the list did not include affiliations alongside people’s names it appears the Times consulted the CEO of Pandora Brian McAndrews and comedian and actor Andrew Ginsburg, of “The Sopranos.”

According to Buzzfeed, the memo from last month “paints a dark picture of a newsroom struggling more dramatically than is immediately visible to adjust to the digital world.”

“The Times report was finalized March 24 by a committee of digitally oriented staffers led by reporter A.G. Sulzberger. His father, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, fired Executive Editor Jill Abramson Tuesday, a decision that doesn’t appear immediately related to the paper’s digital weaknesses,” explained Buzzfeed.

— Julia A. Seymour is Assistant Managing Editor for MRC Business at the Media Research Center. Follow Julia A. Seymour on Twitter.