Internal schisms at The New York Times over the firing of its executive editor Jill Abramson has led to the leakage of a crucial document on Digital Innovation. The document, which was prepared by a high profile team after months of interviews and research, is an invaluable tool kit for the arsenal of anyone interested in Digital Media.
We continue with our learnings from the document.
- The vast majority of The New York Times’ content is still published in the evenings, following the traditional practice of print journalism. This is despite web analytics consistently coming out with the finding that the publication’s digital traffic is busiest early in the morning.
- Again, the newsroom targets ambitious stories for Sundays because on that day the publication has its largest print readership. But online, weekends bring the slowest traffic.
- Coming to the length of stories, the 700-800 word story is considered the sweet spot for print. But print has limited shelf-space, whereas the scarcity economy doesn’t operate online. So why not experiment with more long-form content online?
- The report notes that newsroom leaders spend a lot of time reading stories from other outlets, whereas few are studying their digital strategies, viz., presentation, social presence, search optimization, navigation, and mobile strategy. Even few are looking at the smartphone apps of competitors. The authors found that several stories invited readers to post comments even though the iPhone and iPad apps of the NYT do not allow users to comment!
- The scarcity economy of the limited shelf space of print is affecting digital operations in other ways too. NYT receives quality submissions for Op-Ed articles from hundreds of contributors. But at any given time only a few of them can make it to the print edition. The report notes that many otherwise relevant articles are thus lost merely because the print edition cannot accommodate them. It has, therefore, suggested that these articles may be uploaded to the website where space isn’t a constraint.
- The authors of the report found it amusing that the publication’s content management system, known as Scoop, organizes content in its mobile apps according to web sections, even though the readership of both are different. This can lead to dysfunctions, like when the Business Day columnists, who are a draw with the mobile audience, are organized at the very bottom of the Business Section in the mobile apps just because it is uploaded straight from the web sections. Interestingly, despite this process, graphics made for the NYT’s website still cannot upload to the mobile versions.
(The series continues. Other installments in this series can be found at the following links: Part 4, Part 2, Part 1)