MAD Perspectives Blog

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 The New York Times is a community

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I feel compelled today to write about the New York Times newspaper.  My thoughts are prompted by announcements from Conde Nast regarding the “death” of Gourmet magazine and People Magazine’s celebration of its 35th anniversary.  They made me think about what’s happening in the publishing industry. 

The New York Times is a venerated publication that has had a few stumbles in recent years and is part what we generally accept as a dying industry.  The New York Times Company is conglomerate of various daily newspapers (e.g., NY Times, Boston Glob, and International Herald Tribute), related websites (e.g., www.nytimes.comwww.boston.com ) and informational websites (i.e., About.com).  However when we think of the New York Times, I think that most of us think of the newspaper itself.

Newspapers have been our source of insight, information, news and entertainment for over 500 years.  In fact, the advancement of print technology is credited with advancing the democratization of society by providing all classes of people with access to news and information.  It is this idea of democratization that first set off my internal thought process on the similarities between periodicals and social communities.    Let’s compare the New York Times and social networking:

 

New York Times (physical paper and online)

Social Networking sites (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, etc.)

Access

 

daily

24 x 7 (online)

24 x 7

 

Cost

Subscription for physical delivery

Free (online)

Free

 

Opinions

Editorials

Blogs

Customer feedback

Limited

Yes (online)

Expected!

Integration with social media platforms

Yes (online)

Yes

Use of video

Yes (online)

Yes

 

As the New York Times has invested in its online presence, it has become both a destination and a community.  Readers, who have long appreciated the content provided in the newspaper edition, can find that same content online.  The nytimes.com site preserves the look and feel of the print front page, with easy access to the various special interest sections.  Additionally, they can access video interviews with thought leaders and business leaders , interact with tech columnist David Pogue and share articles, videos and opinions with their peers via a plethora of social media platforms.

In fact, this focus on their internet presence should benefit The New York Times.  Per Nielsen, newyorktimes.com attracts 20,118 unique users who spend approximately 31 minutes per use on the site.  This is more than twice the number of readers on any other newspaper site (i.e., USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc.).  Their attention to brand, integration of video and leverage of community should help drive incremental revenue.  While the overall revenue to the New York Times Company, from digital, was only 12% in FY08, it is clear that digital is their future.  Just look at their R&D investments.

This is an industry that is well aware of the technological shifts, but they still have a customer base that wants to read the physical product.  They may elect do so due to personal preference, distaste for reading online or lack of internet access.  The New York Times is aware of the shift and is adapting through cost reductions on the print side of the business.  Perhaps they were slow to understand the true impact, but they now walk a fine line between the physical and digital worlds. 

So, don’t write off the newspaper industry.  Perhaps the medium will change, but the information and the community will remain.   They reflect the shifts and challenges facing many enterprise businesses.  Adapt your models.  Adopt new technology.   Acknowledge your community.

What’s your perspective?