Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The new newyorktimes.com.

Technology certainly is a demanding dance partner, isn't it? The New York Times has launched a redesigned web site and, with a few reservations, I think it's quite winning. Over at slate.com, Jack Shafer has his take on the new look – it's similar to mine.

The only question: is it too good?

Shafer actually says that, on the strength of the new site, he is now canceling his subscription to the paper version. As much as I've always loved the ritual of reading a printed newspaper, I have to agree that it makes even less sense to deal with the old, fully-inked version. The new design, as Shafer points out, does seem to combine the best elements of the newspaper and the web. The heirachy of a newspaper is now there, something that was always missing from the old newyorktimes.com.

Of course, it wouldn't be the New York Times if they didn't do something extremely well and push themselves closer to winding up in a real bind. I'm still not sure if the ads on the site will ever have the impact of a full-pager in the paper in, say, 1994. Maybe the money is in sponsorship of the richer content they can provide online. And I must admit that I miss being able to read Thomas Friedman's pieces – they're part of Times Select, a subscription-only section. I may have to give in and start paying for them.

Whatever the case, I think the redesign gives us a look at the true potential of news site in Web 2.0. There's no question that blog formats have fueled a healthy chunk of it.

Kudos to the Times thinkers for improving something quite dramatically. Empathy for the finance guys who have to figure out how to make money in this new model.

2 Comments:

Blogger Profgart said...

Do you think the inevitable trend is toward the direct sale of all kinds of content - direct-to-consumer sales of everything that can be digitized? Times Select is surely just the leading edge of paid online subscriptions for content that was once free or that required the purchase of a newspaper or magazine.

What I wonder is how close transitions of this sort will come to a zero sum event. Will the profitability of content sales rise for a business like the NYT rapidly enough to offset the decline of advertising revenue? Television can rely on product placements inside the content, but journalism has - hopefully - no such recourse.

The end of your post seems to cast doubt on the potential of web advertising to fill the breach opened up by new media. Elsewhere you've predicted the demise of the traditional agency model and of print advertising. Do you have any predictions about where marketing writ large is headed in the next decade?

10:22 PM  
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