The old formula for news is dead and buried if you listen to Forbes’s assessment of the New York Times innovation report.
In short, the old way of putting up a cover letter kind of homepage and one person kind of hitting social media on the off-chance is long gone. Anyone who uses social media knows that. Not so innovative, really. The audience already knows Twitter offers the chance to connect with journalist of all levels and to read what’s hot. So why not use the momentum?
A quick retweet can run like wildfire, spinning into a viral storm. A lot of the digital-based or digital-only news outlets have kept up with the trends, but the big names like the New York Times haven’t. Print production is at an all-time low, paid subscription services are touch and go, and Perry White’s no longer the quintessential newspaper’s editor-in-chief. The world has turned digital, and in the past two decades, traditional formats have languished by the wayside.
The article’s writer, Chris Perry, brings up a very good point: it takes more than innovation to create a brand nowadays. You also need discovery, promotion, and connection as well. If you try and pass off the innovation without any kind of support, the business doesn’t grow. And grow it must. Social media engagement between businesses and individuals often goes pear-shaped. The business world will show you weekly examples.
But to connect, a business can’t sit delegate engagement to different departments. Twitter by the Times falls to the newsroom, while the business department controls the Facebook page. For an audience looking for a cohesive voice, you need to have a set-up running all social media. Picking and choosing may have worked 20 years ago, but the audience is far more sophisticated now. Instead, the paper has decided to let the reporters and editors promote their own work.
Not very innovative there, either, since those same reporter and editors are competing in a deep market for attention. Especially since the paper produces over 300 URLS daily and in the world of fast media, well-written and well-regarded pieces can be lost in a matter of seconds.
Two decades of competition no longer matter in the age of the geek. You need to be able to compete with The New York Times as easily as In Style. Categories are just as blurred since celebrity news, like Kim Kardashian’s wedding, ends up intermixed with the latest political news. You don’t have ‘the entertainment section’ and the ‘the sports section.’ Every edition needs to be engaging and entertaining. And every section needs to be front page worthy.
Digital content is here to stay and the traditional papers need to keep up to stay relevant. Reputations are important. Branding is important. But you have to put everything to get to the most out of your business. The Times seems to be learning the process slowly. Who will be next?