Matt Thompson

As Director of Vertical Initiatives (and Mischief) at NPR, Matt Thompson works with teams across the company to guide the development of topic-focused verticals covering race, ethnicity and culture; education; and global health and development.

Outside his work at NPR, Thompson teaches media and technology management as an adjunct professor at American University. He serves as the vice-chairman of the board of the Center for Public Integrity, an investigative journalism nonprofit. He's also the co-founder of an organization called Spark Camp, which convenes diverse groups of leaders from a variety of industries.

Before coming to NPR in 2010, Thompson served as the interim Online Community Manager for the Knight Foundation. In May 2009, he completed a Donald W. Reynolds Fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute; where he explored creating context-centric news websites with results that have been widely cited in discussions about online journalism's future.

For four years prior to the Reynolds Fellowship, Thompson served as the deputy web editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. His work leading the development, community and production of a socially networked arts-and-entertainment website contributed to the site being honored with a Digital Edge Award, "an Edgie," from the Newspaper Association of America' New Media Federation. Also at the Star Tribune, Thompson managed technology and interactivity-related projects for, from creating an internal taxonomy to transforming the online opinion section into a blog.

As an online reporter/producer for the Fresno Bee from 2004-05, Thompson's work on multimedia projects earned him a first- and third-place 2004 Best of the West award. At the Bee, he led an internal advisory committee exploring the paper's strategies for acquiring new audiences.

Thompson was the Poynter Institute's 2003-04 Naughton Fellow for Online Reporting and Writing. While at Poynter, he and his colleague Robin Sloan produced the Flash movie EPIC 2014. Presenting a picture of the media past set 10 years in the future, the movie was written up in The New York Times, Financial Times, USA Today, the Guardian, and on MSNBC. In 2010, Thompson completed a four-year term on Poynter's National Advisory Board.

A graduate with honors in English from Harvard College, Thompson wrote his senior thesis on the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." He blogs at, jogs along the Potomac and occasionally sings barbershop music with friends.


Thu December 11, 2014
Monkey See

A Prediction For How Serial Is Going To End

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:06 pm

Serial producers Sarah Koenig (left) and Dana Chivvis in the recording studio.
Elise Bergeron Courtesy of Serial

As The Conversation About Serial reaches a fever pitch in certain circles, those of us behind Code Switch and Monkey See have been talking quite a bit about the show. Here's the first part of our exchange, from Code Switch editor Matt Thompson:

Hi Linda, Kat and Gene,

I think we're still far enough away from the conclusion of Serial (ostensibly next Thursday) that predicting its ending is both brave and foolhardy, so let me lay it on you.

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Fri February 14, 2014
Code Switch

What We Learned From Our Month-Long Exploration Of #XCultureLove

These photos make us think that maybe, it's time we start a Code Switch stock photo database. ...

Someone in Southern California seems to have a real issue with Asian-American women. Their main sticking point? Relationships between Asian-American women and white men.

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Sat February 1, 2014
Code Switch

Why It's Hard To Talk About Attraction In Race And Culture

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 1:32 pm

Matt Thompson

A few years ago, a woman named Elaine Dove tried an experiment on Craigslist. She created three ads, each with a different treatment of her racial and cultural background:

"The first described me accurately: gothic, Asian-American, alternative, artistic, inquisitive, intelligent, adventurous. The second made no mention of my race at all. The third stated that I was 'non-white and non-Christian.' "

The result?

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Tue April 9, 2013
Code Switch

Brad Paisley's 'Accidental Racist' Sparks At Least One Dialogue

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 7:18 am

LL Cool J (left) and Brad Paisley backstage during the 48th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards Sunday in Las Vegas.
Jerod Harris/ACMA2013 Getty Images for ACM

"It can't be a coincidence that 'Accidental Racist' came out the same day Code Switch launched," @Melanism tweeted at us on Monday.

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