The launch of two new-brand websites by the Washington Post and Politico hint at a youthful, hopeful future for legacy media groups in cyberspace.
In some ways the New York Times is the BBC of print journalism: dominant, revered, imperious, sometimes bathed in irritating self-congratulation. But it is also, inevitably, an obsessively observed leader in the hideously difficult business of moving from newsprint to digital screen. If the Times can make it, perhaps others can. If the Times fails, then newspaper companies everywhere can start to despair.
Which makes its latest health check (from an officially appointed team of its own journalists) seem very important. Three years ago, a first “innovation” team report plumped for digital integration and chose subscriptions – paywalls rather than advertising free-for-alls – as the chosen survival route. Now “Our Path Forward” marches ambitiously down that road.
“We now have more than 1.5m digital-only subscriptions, up from 1m a year ago and from zero only six years ago. We also have more than 1m print subscriptions, and our readers are receiving a product better than it has ever been …”
But such success isn’t enough, apparently. Transitions never go fast or far enough – unless of course they go too far, too fast. The danger down this trail is a relentlessly balanced tour of Cake-and-Eat-It territory. “We need to reduce the dominant role that the print newspaper still plays in our organisation and rhythms, while making the print paper even better.