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Saving The New York Times From Oblivion

Great journalism, but alas unreadable

June 10, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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As a young kid I never saw The New York Times.

Around six every morning, the paper delivery truck would roar up the driveway and whiz around circle at the far end. Heading out, the driver would fling two newspapers onto the front stoop and speed off.

One was the New York Herald Tribune for my father; the second copy of the Trib was delivered to my grandmother on the tray with her shredded wheat and tea.

I once asked my father why he didn't take one each of the Times and the Trib and then switch with his mother.

"The Times is boring," he said. "Neither of us likes it."

Seventy years later the Times is still boring—and in deep doo-doo.

The Leaked Innovation Report­
May 15, 2014 was a pivotal day at The New York Times HQ at 620 Eighth Avenue—the scene of two P.R. catastrophes:

  • Managing editor Jill Abramson was fired amidst a swirling media free-for-all that caught owner Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger with his pants around his ankles.
  • A major internal Times document—The Innovation Report—was leaked and turned up all over the Internet.

The Lede—What the Times Said About Itself
The New York Times is winning at journalism. Of all the challenges facing a media company in the digital age, producing great journalism is the hardest. Our daily report is deep, broad, smart and engaging—and we've got a huge lead over the competition.

At the same time, we are falling behind in a second critical area: the art and science of getting our journalism to readers. We have always cared about the reach and impact of our work, but we haven't done enough to crack that code in the digital era.

... over the last year The Times has watched readership fall significantly. Not only is the audience on our website shrinking, but our audience on our smartphone apps has dipped, an extremely worrying sign on a growing platform.

Our core mission remains producing the world's best journalism. But with the endless upheaval in technology, reader habits and the entire business model, The Times need to pursue smart new strategies for growing our audience. The urgency is only growing because digital media is getting more crowded, better funded and far more innovative.


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