New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller made a series of announcements at a staff meeting that make it clear the Times is aggressively accelerating its transition from print to digital publishing with some dramatic changes (via Gawker):
Newsroom editors, he said, “need to be better informed about features that appear in their sections. They don’t necessarily have to know how to put up a slide show or put up a graphic, but they need to know who does what.”
The age of tech-savvy, multimedia journalism has truly arrived. Journalists who can only produce for one medium are an endangered species.
He 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 can’t let our reverence for quality become a straitjacket in new media,” he warned. “The web environment is different… We can offer guidance but we cannot insist on the same control we exercise over print.”
This is huge — while shifting “quality control” resources to help crank out more content online, the venerable New York Times is conceding that it will have to lower its editorial standards in order to compete online. No more turning its nose up at unedited independent blogs that produce more content and attract a larger audience than the Times on breaking stories.
This doesn’t mean that the Times is going to abandon editorial standards for online publishing, but given the choice between being perfect and being too slow to matter, the Times is wisely going to search for the right middle ground.
I suddenly feel better about my typos.
Part of the future includes a reduction in the size of the paper at the end of the summer. “Folks, it ain’t that different,” he said. There’s that warm Bill Keller we all know! “It’s an inch and a half narrower. There’s no dramatic makeover of our design.”
It’s inevitable that the physical product will shrink along with the business. Still, it’s clear that cost cutting can’t compensate for the decline in the print business and the limited, albeit robust in percent terms, growth of digital revenue:
Someone asked how the Times plans to make money off the web. “I heartily believe we will,” Keller said. “How, is a lot more complicated.” He talked about Wall Street, and doing PowerPoint presentations. “There’s a phrase they use in drug and alcohol rehabâ€”’fake it til you make it.’ That’s basically what we’re doing.”
A brave concession that the New York Times, like every other media company on the planet, is making this up as they go along.