The New York Times is one of the worlds great newspapers. It has also had some great successes in the digital ages (the ‘Snowfall‘ concept was hugely influential for better or worse) but the internal ‘innovation’ report that was leaked to Buzzfeed this week shows just how difficult the shift to a ‘digital by default’ organisation is – even when there is commitment and investment.
I don’t know much about the inner workings of the newspaper game – I probably learned all I know watching ‘Press Gang‘ but this report should be read by anyone involved in digital ‘transformation’ programmes – especially at larger, bureaucratic organisations. Basically the kinds of places I so often find myself employed.
If you don’t have time to read the full report I recommend the eConsultancy summary of key points and the really useful Nielsen Journalism Labs post about it all where they pick out key text. Also Martin Belam has written a post specifically on the issue of homepage traffic that a lot of commentators are fixated on.
Personally I was taken by how many of their challenges mirrored our own (albeit at a much different scale!)
Things like the obsession with the homepage, the need to repackage and recycle content past its release date, getting more expert staff engaging on social media as advocates of the content, developing reusable tools rather than one-off interactives, closer collaboration between internal teams with a focus on ensuring that outputs are promoted in the right way are all things we are wrestling with.
Plus the old perennial problem of a need to get the organisation to look forward rather than rest on the (well earned) laurels of the past.
They say admitting the problem is the first step and it is safe to say that they have done that and in doing so I think they have given us all something to judge the scale of our own transformation challenges.