‘For generations, the New York Times strove for singular meaning and significance. The message to everyone who has ever worked there was that they were made by the Times and lesser without it. Indeed, the whole point of a newspaper is to combine and orchestrate information niches and voices into a seamless package and towering brand.
But now, the memo: undo all that’
New technology levels authority, greatly empowering individuals to produce, manage and consume their own content. Institutions are disrupted. The old brands don’t tower like they used to. The Grey Lady, as a daily, has to utilize the new technology and prove its value every day in a competitive market going forward.
I do remember Snow Fall: The Avalanche At Tunnel Creek, an interactive piece a few years back, which tried to innovate.
They also had some success with Nate Silver, but there were authority issues and a culture clash, by all accounts:
‘One of the Times’ successful product differentiations was its arrangement with Nate Silver, the data packager, who drew handsome traffic numbers during the election season. But it lost Silver in a bidding war. While Abramson fought to keep him, Thompson and the business side did not, it seems, want to pay what this successful product cost.
Nor were they quite ready to acknowledge that these mini-products and brands might each nurture and depend upon as great an ego as the Times itself. They were not ready to be reconciled to the fact that, in a hit-driven world, you have to really suck up to stars.’
I’m guessing much of the old newsroom culture is not yielding to the rapid change going on right now. Some have probably dug in and stayed dug inside their rolodexes and old ways. There is a serious culture clash going on.
Perhaps also some folks at the Times are creative types, the kind who will cast a baffled eye and jealous glance towards technology, having gravitated towards literature, theater and the arts, thus resisting data, analysis and what numbers can do for them.
As to politics and ideology, other than to say that the Times has always been pretty liberal, and much of the new tech crowd and plugged-in culture is pretty liberal (usually voting non-Republican) and that many parts of NYC are quite liberal, there may not be much to say.
The Times is exhibiting what many institutions in our culture seem to be exhibiting: Fidelity to a post 60’s, idealist, liberal managerial class often guided by feminist and environmentalist ideals, diversity for its own sake, and abstract equality as the highest thing around. Throw in a touch of sexual liberation, too.
A pursuit of such ideals can narrow their focus to a very liberal base of readers and lead to non-critical Democratic party support.
We’ll see what happens.
Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon
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