Last night’s lesson in parsing out the importance of “community” and “engagement” in social media has no greater validation than a Times business story today announcing the paper’s intention to speed up refashioning its stories and the reporters who write them “with more varied skills and [to] deepen engagement with readers as a way to build loyalty and attract the subscriptions to survive.”
The report said the paper was losing its journalism edge.
They could have been sitting in Fisher Benedict #323 last night.
Looking to build “Journalism That Stands Apart,” the initial title of the iconic paper’s internal study, the “old gray lady” as it is sometimes called, said it needed to accomplish at least three make-overs:
– reduce duplicative payers of article editing (in other words, having fewer editors touch stories before being posted or printed);
– have visual experts play “the primary role covering some stories, i.e., more visual journalism;
– renewed focus on diversity within The Times as a way of ensuring that the paper’s journalists “reflect the audience we seek”;
The paper will also cut news room staff.
In an attempt to re-imagine itself, the Times will cut editorial staff and streamline the newsroom, focusing on digital publishing, more graphics, podcasts, and visuals.
They acknowledged that the changes were a major cultural transformation that will include such initiativea as “reimagining the print newspaper, a heightened emphasis on graphics, podcasts, video, and virtual reality.
Part of the digital disruption for the news media is clearly linked to the hostility felt and evidenced by the incoming president, Donald J. Trump, who has called at least one news outlet, “fake news.”
The Times concluded that its future was digital, not print.
Newsprint is the new buggy whip of newspaper journalism.
A photo of bygone days at the Times news room back in the day when my father first worked there as assistant night metropolitan editor. Editors could be seen reading the newspaper when not using a thick pencil to mark up stories while apprentices, called copy boys, ran the copy back to the reporter for revising and then back to the editor who signed off on the story before it was sent downstairs to the press room for printing, an arduous process that turned out top quality journalism. Trucks lined up outside the Times building to haul away tomorrow’s edition to newsstands, stores, and to news boys who had paper routes.
In the wake of the divisive reporting on the presidential election, editors offer an apologia and defense of presidential election reporting: http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/17/media/new-york-times-2020-report/ offering context for why the digital path forward has been blazed, saying there’s a need for “a new conversation with our readers and viewers–listening, reporting, explaining, and staying connected.”