Friday, May 25, 2007

Announcing changes at the New York Times

According to this post on Gawker, NYT editor Bill Keller called the troops together for a surprising briefing late this week, spelling out how the paper is moving steadily online: assigning more copy editors to day shifts to feed the web, expecting editors to understand how their sections played on the web, telling them "we cannot insist on the same control we exercise over print."

Taken at face value, it signals a huge shift in attitude at what we once knew as the Gray Lady of the press. ""We can't let our reverence for quality become a straitjacket in new media," Keller is quoted as saying. "The web environment is different..."

A footnote: this seems significant to me, so why can't I find anything about it anywhere but Gawker? (Thanks to Publishing 2.0 for the pointer).

Here's another sample in Gawkerspeak:

[Keller] also spoke about the "gradual reallocation of resources from print towards digital" and copy editors being moved to the day side, so that there could be a "greater flow of fresh quality edit material." We imagine a chill swept quickly over the room! Then he brought up two of the Times' stars: Sewell Chan, who has become a "full-time, online Metro journalist"; and the comely Ariel Kaminer, who—assuming we heard this correctly—is becoming a "cultural impresario." Snarf.


  1. We can't let our reverence for quality become a straitjacket in new media

    Is anyone else disturbed by that quote? I certainly hope so. Why should the medium change your reverence for quality?

    Unfortunatly we don't have a whole lot of context here but it makes him seem -- to me -- like an arrogant ass.

    Attitudes that think that the web is somehow unclean because, God forbid we let the unwashed masses contribute to our reporting are very quicky going to be doing more harm than good (if they aren't already).

    The web environment is different...

    You bet it is, but news is still news.

  2. @-30-: Perhaps a less antagonistic reading would be that the presumption of "quality" or lack there of is what's holding back "new" media projects.

    No, the medium shouldn't change the quality, but I think there is still a mindset that because it's not in print, the inherent quality is less, and I think that's what has to be addressed.

    There is good, groundbreaking work going on w/ interactive media, but I believe it's held back because of higher interest from a group I'll call "Defenders of the Faith."

    The other, slightly different way the straightjacket fits is in _not_ pursuing an interactive media angle (video, audio, pdf documents, databases) because it's assumed the quality and/or audience won't be there.