Thursday, May 22, 2014

5 Ways the New York Times Completely Missed the Digital Boat

From the paper’s admirably honest and thoroughly reported innovation report:

1. A year and a half ago, Andrew Phelps presented his bosses with a tool he developed: an automated, visual homepage of the day’s report. Editors were enthusiastic, but there was no structure to support the initiative and after several months he gave up. More than a year later, an identical featured appeared on the Washington Post website. Immediately, the Times business side put out a request for a designer or developer interested in building a visual homepage.

2. On a whim Phelps made a Flipboard magazine of the Times’s best obits from 2013. It became the best-read collection ever on Flipboard.

3. Recipes were never tagged by ingredients or cooking time. Consequently, the Times floundered about for 15 years trying to figure out how to create a useful recipe database.

4. It took seven years for the Times to begin to tag stories “September 11.” “We never made a tag for Benghazi, and I wish we had because the story just won’t die,” says a member of the archive, metadata, and search team.

5. After the Times spent more than a year producing a signature piece of journalism—the “Invisible Child” series—the newsroom alerted its marketing and PR colleagues too late for them to do any promotion ahead of time.