Nicholas Thompson (editor)
This biographical article is written like a résumé. (April 2013)
Nicholas Thompson is an American technology journalist. He is currently the editor in chief of Wired and formerly the editor of the NewYorker.com. Thompson is a contributor for CBS News and regularly appears on CBS This Morning and CBSN.
Early life and education
Thompson graduated high school from Phillips Academy, Andover in 1993. In 1997, he graduated from Stanford University Phi Beta Kappa and with honors. He earned a double major in earth systems and political science, while also completing a third degree in economics. He was also a United States Truman Scholar and vice president of the student government.
After college, Thompson traveled to Africa, where he was kidnapped in Morocco by drug dealers “immediately upon landing.” He has said this led to his first published story, a piece in the Washington Post titled, "Continental Drift."
After coming back to America, Thompson worked as a freelance journalist and as a street musician in New York City, frequently performing on the 14th Street L train platform at Sixth Avenue. He was then hired at Penguin Computing, a Linux hardware company in San Francisco, but he made the transition back to journalism when he was hired as an editor of the Washington Monthly in 1999. He worked there for two years under Charles Peters and Paul Glastris. His most prominent story was a piece that exposed fraud in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Following another stint as a freelance reporter in Africa, he was hired as a senior editor at Legal Affairs.
In 2005, he joined Wired as a senior editor. During that time, he assigned and edited the feature story, "The Great Escape," which was the basis for the Oscar-winning film Argo. He also edited "Vanish" by writer Evan Ratliff. The two turned the story into an interactive digital manhunt, with Ratliff disappearing and Thompson helping readers on Twitter as they tried to track him down. Afterwards, Thompson and Ratliff, along with Jefferson Rabb, cofounded The Atavist, a multimedia magazine and software company. They sold it in 2018 in Wordpress.
In 2010, Thompson was hired as a senior editor at The New Yorker. From 2012 to 2017, Thompson served as the editor of NewYorker.com, where he oversaw and managed the magazine's website. In that time, the number of monthly readers increased seven-fold. He also led the redesign and re-platforming of the site, the launch of the New Yorker Today app, and the introduction of a metered paywall. "What we're trying to do is make a website that is to the Internet what the magazine is to all other magazines," Thompson told Politico at the time of the website's relaunch in 2014. By the time the metered paywall was introduced months later, new subscription sign-ups were 85 percent higher than they had been the previous January. Thompson also wrote for the magazine, most notably a piece on his long friendship with Joseph Stalin's daughter.
In 2017, Thompson returned to Wired as its fifth editor-in-chief. “Nick’s return to Wired, combined with his impeccable journalistic skills, will give the Wired team a tremendous advantage in covering the world of technology,” Condé Nast's Anna Wintour said at the time of the announcement. Under his leadership, Wired has launched a successful paywall and an AMP stories edition. It has also been nominated for National Magazine Awards in design and feature writing. Thompson has also taken an evolved approach to the mag azine's editorial mission, which once centered on unwavering optimism. “The job isn’t to champion, the job is to be as smart as you can be about [tech companies] and praise them when they do things that are right and hold them to account when they do things that are wrong,” he has said, “The role of Wired has shifted, and it’s shifted in a way that’s a little complicated for our audience.”
As editor-in-chief, Thompson has also continued writing and reporting. In February 2018, Thompson co-wrote Wired's cover story "Inside the Two Years that Shook Facebook—and the World," an 11,000-word investigation based on reporting with more than fifty current and former Facebook employees. Fortune described the piece as, "a stellar example of the sort of long-form journalism that no summaries or clickbait teases or listicles can replace, the kind of substantive analysis and storytelling that make democracy and capitalism function.” Thompson is also the author of a book, “The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War,” which was published in 2009. It tells the story of the Cold War through the relationship and rivalry of Kennan, the author of the Long Telegram, and Nitze, one of America's top arms negotiators, who was also Thompson's grandfather. The Washington Post called the book “brilliant” and the New York Times described it as “brimming with fascinating revelations.” He has also authored features about Instagram's machine learning, the rising tensions between the US and China over artificial intelligence, and the ways in which technology helped him run a faster marathon at age 43.
Prior to becoming a journalist, Thompson released three albums of acoustic guitar music and co-wrote a book about comparative economic development in West Africa and Southeast Asia. He is an avid runner and runs to and from his office each day. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three sons.
- Thompson, Nicholas (2009). The hawk and the dove : Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the history of the Cold War.
Essays and reporting
- Thompson, Nicholas (March 31, 2014). "My friend, Stalin's daughter". Personal History. The New Yorker. 90 (6): 30–37.
- Thompson, Nicholas (February 12, 2018). "Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook—and the World". Wired.
- Thompson, Nicholas (November 2, 2018). "An Aging Marathoner Tries to Run Fast After 40." Wired.
- Thompson, Nicholas (October 23, 2018). "The AI Cold War That Threatens Us All." Wired.
- Thompson, Nicholas (August 14, 2017). "Instagram's Kevin Systrom Wants to Clean Up the Internet." Wired.
- "Nicholas Thompson". Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- Ferriss, Tim (2018-06-26). "The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Nick Thompson". The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara; Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara (2018-02-01). "Media People: Wired Editor in Chief Nicholas Thompson". WWD. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
- Kuczynski, Alex (2001-08-22). "'Best' List for Colleges by U.S. News Is Under Fire". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
- "Atavist". Atavist. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- "WordPress.com parent company acquires Atavist". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- Bazilian|May 9, Emma; 2013. "The New Yorker Saw Record-Breaking Web Traffic Last Month". www.adweek.com. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
- Levy, Nicole; Sterne, Peter. "A relaunch for The New Yorker, with high stakes". POLITICO Media. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- "How The New Yorker brought the soul of the magazine to the web". Poynter. 2017-01-31. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- Thompson, Nicholas (2014-03-24). "My Friend, Stalin's Daughter". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- "National Magazine Award Finalists 2018". Retrieved November 16, 2018.
- "Facebook Eviscerated Over Fake News". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
- Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara; Bloomgarden-Smoke, Kara (2018-02-01). "Media People: Wired Editor in Chief Nicholas Thompson". WWD. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- Nicas, Jack (2018-10-16). "Wired Magazine Turns 25 With a Brainy Party". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
- Vogelstein, Nicholas Thompson,Fred (2018-02-12). "Inside Facebook's Two Years of Hell". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- "Facebook Eviscerated Over Fake News". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- "Nicholas Thompson". Retrieved 2019-01-13.
- "LinkedIn Top Voices". lists.linkedin.com. Retrieved 2019-01-16.