Twenty-one years ago, almost to the day, the New York Times embraced the “World Wide Web” and launched an online version of its daily newspaper, part of its “strategy to extend the readership of The Times and to create opportunities for the company in the electronic media industry.”
Nearly two decades later, news organizations are still figuring out how to adapt to the digital age, and it’s going to get more complicated for them in the years ahead. Thanks to the rise of ad blockers on desktop and mobile, the ads-based revenue model that has dominated the media industry over the last decade is showing signs of wear; and this month Facebook dealt publishers a major blow by announcing an overhaul to its news feed algorithm that would de-prioritize content from brands and publishers.
But while some were quick to paint the news as a doomsday scenario, all is not lost. New high-tech tools and platforms have emerged that may offer a lifeline to an industry that’s been treading water for decades.
There’s still a long road ahead for the media industry, but for the first time in a while, technology isn’t disrupting publishers; it’s making it easier for them to experiment with alternative revenue models and deliver content in new, creative ways. Those concerned with the long-term stability of creators, publishers and journalists should view Facebook’s recent announcement as a turning point for the entire industry — one that will see the New York Times and others continue to adapt and enjoy another two decades of success in the internet economy.