The leaked New York Times innovation report is one of the key documents of this media age

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It’s an astonishing look inside the cultural change still needed in the shift to digital — even in one of the world’s greatest newsrooms. As bad as this report makes parts of the Times’ culture seem, there are two significant reasons for optimism.

First: So much of the digital work of The New York Times is so damned good, despite all the roadblocks detailed here. Take those barriers away and think what they could do.

And second: While it was a group effort — full list on page 3 here — the leader of this committee was Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, the publisher’s son and the presumed heir to the throne, either when his father retires in a few years or sometime thereafter. His involvement in this report shows that he understands the issues facing the institution. That speaks well for the Times’ future.

The Full New York Times Innovation Report

Some points highlighted by Nieman

  • The value of the homepage is decreasing
  • We can be both a daily newsletter and a library
  • Must be willing to experiment more
  • Repackaging old content in new formats
  • Allow readers to easily follow certain topics or columnists
  • Woefully behind in its tagging and structured data practices
  • One of the biggest problems is the Times’ CMS
  • The newsroom tends to view questions through the lens of worst-case scenarios

What readers see as innovation at the Times — graphics and interactives — is not reflected internally, in terms of workflow

We’ve abdicated completely the role of strategy,’ said one masthead editor. ‘We just don’t do strategy. The newsroom is really being dragged behind the galloping horse of the business side.

the vast majority of our content is still published late in the evening, but our digital traffic is busiest early in the morning. We aim ambitious stories for Sunday because it is our largest print readership, but weekends are slowest online

If we had more of a digital-first approach, we would have developed in advance an hour-by-hour plan to expand our package of related content in order to keep readers on our site longer, and attract new ones.

Instead of running mobile on autopilot, we need to view the platform as an experience that demands its own quality control and creativity.



Full Report Niemanlab Article Sanitised Summary


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