Story 2014-06-16 3NP Blogger: Newspapers Can't Succeed By Repackaging Old Goods

Blogger: Newspapers Can't Succeed By Repackaging Old Goods

in internet on (#3NP)
story imageThree months ago an internal strategy memo entitled The New York Times Innovation Report , detailing the challenges facing the NYT and its competitors in the digital age, appeared on the web; the leak was inevitable since the report was distributed to employees.

The report began with the statement 'The New York Times is winning at journalism. Of all the challenges... producing great journalism is the hardest.'

But then came the counterpoint: 'At the same time, we are falling behind in a second critical area: the art and science of getting our journalism to readers... we haven't done enough to crack that code in the digital era.' It noted that in terms of digital traffic, the Times was falling behind both digital-focus journalism operations such as the Huffington Post and Vox Media (SB Nation, the Verge), as well as traditional competitors including the Washington Post (now owned by Amazon's Bezos) and the Wall Street Journal.

Media business blogger Thomas Baekdal has just posted his reaction to the report, challenging the assertion that the Times was 'winning at journalism' . While the individual stories appearing in the Times may meet high standards of reporting and editing, what if the problem was that readers didn't find the stories relevant to their lives?

Baekdal compares the Times and other newspapers to supermarkets like Wal-Mart, which market huge arrays of products, of which only a small percentage has relevance to any given shopper. While Baekdal acknowledges that Amazon and others have succeeded with supermarket models on the web, they generally do so by using search as entry points into targeted delivery ('Customers who browsed this item also were interested in...'). Another successful model is the community of interest model from social networking; people return each day to read or view a stream of content on topics, or from authors, that matter to them.

[2014-06-16 08:59UTC Minor formatting edits for readability.]
Reply 8 comments

Duh, It's The Paywall (Score: 2, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-16 02:01 (#23S)

"Continual decline in digital traffic"? Seriously?? They have made their paywall more and more obnoxious and harder to avert. Now one gets "summaries" and warnings after as few as 5 page views.

The NY Times is very actively and blatantly literally driving away readers and potential readers. It very clearly wants to be an also-ran as a local or global news source. They don't want my eyeballs? Fuck 'em. There are hundreds and hundreds of great sources for local and global journalism.

This is a case study of watching old media drive itself determinedly and proudly into the ground as fast as it can.

formatting (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-16 02:40 (#23T)

this is almost a wall of text, a little formatting could go far in readability ...just a consideration...

Re: formatting (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-16 04:17 (#23V)

yeah, it's old media formatting :)

Re: formatting (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-16 09:00 (#23X)

I broke up the paragraphs into smaller chunks - hope that makes it a bit more readable. Great article, by the way - thanks for submitting!

Works the other way around, too (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-16 08:58 (#23W)

Journalist: "Bloggers: you can't succeed by just repackaging other peoples' news." There are some decent bloggers out there providing new content. But there are hundreds of millions of others just linking to news stories and then commenting on them. Look at the Drudge Report, which is a popular and well-liked blog (probably top-10 in the USA, anyway). No news of its own - just links to other articles, and commentary and insight.

Some day these two groups of Crips and Bloods will realize they each need each other and decide to let bygones be bygones.

There's precious little real journalism and reporting going on out there, and even formerly independent/big newspapers (Washington Post) now have fired their overseas journalist staff and rely on a wire service like AP. That means one AP reporter is having his stuff repeated across many major newspapers. If it sounds like a bad thing, I'd say I agree.

Insightful Graph (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-06-16 10:03 (#23Y)

That survey graph is, to me, the greatest tell-tell of the article. The young age groups value smart phones (48%) and computer (18%) sources while nearly skipping more traditional media like tv (13%) and print (0%)

If that trend continues, old school media will definitely need to look into some refactoring.

Re: Insightful Graph (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-06-16 13:37 (#242)

Well, the question posed is unusual, "which of these would you miss the most". A desert island question. As a smartphone encompasses everything in the other categories and adds telecom and portability and porn, it's a no brainer choice.

So some big hunks of salt are required here.

Re: Insightful Graph (Score: 1)

by on 2014-06-17 02:19 (#24G)

That is a cool bar chart, which Baekdal found but didn't create himself (it wasn't in the NYT report either).

I remember thinking that the bar on the extreme right, representing the habits of people age 75 and older, would have been representative of the entire US population twenty years ago, when the web was just being rolled out into the mainstream.