By Sam Dagher-For The Wall Street Journal The inside story of the new era of journalism: Inside the Times’ strategy to take over The New York Sun by Paul B. Johnson article In an era of relentless corporate power and outsized media coverage, the Times has been able to reinvent itself by taking the “inside” of the news.
The Times has become the News Corporation of America, the New Yorker of the 21st century, and, more recently, a global media empire with its own news operations in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines.
But the Times’s new strategy has raised some questions about the role of the old corporate media and what the new model of journalism should look like.
It’s an intriguing question for journalists.
What if the Times were to take on its old corporate newsrooms, too?
What if it were to focus more on its “inside”?
The new model, according to one veteran reporter, is an interesting challenge for an industry that has long prized the prestige of the corporate newsroom.
“The Times is not going to be an independent company, like the Times of London,” said Thomas Friedman, a former Wall Street reporter who now directs the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit research group that promotes media transparency and accountability.
“It is going to look like a media company.”
The Times is “not going to run the news,” Friedman said, “it is going be the news business.”
The New Yorker, a New York tabloid known for its tabloid style and highbrow coverage of celebrities and the world, has had a more traditional approach to the news, as a tabloid.
The New Jersey native, Paul Otellini, who also served as a Times reporter and a columnist for the paper from 2000 to 2006, said that the New Republic and the Times have similar journalistic standards and that “they have a great reputation for the kind of quality they produce.”
He noted that “the Times is known for good journalism” and that it has won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the latter for its “Inside” series of books.
But Friedman noted that the Times “has a much bigger audience now than it did in the 1980s, so the Times is going back to a slightly different kind of news,” and that the newspaper is “a very different operation.”
What the Times needs is a bigger audience.
According to Friedman, the new strategy also presents an opportunity to “break the news into the real world.”
“It would be a good model for other media companies,” he said.
“They’re in a very difficult position right now because they are the monopoly.”
“The old model was very much a newspaper business,” Friedman added.
“And the old model is going away, because newspapers don’t have the same audience as other media.”
The new Times, however, may have a different audience.
The newsroom at the Times headquarters in New York.
(Photo: Robert Deutsch, AP) “The new model is an opportunity for other newspapers” The Times, like other media firms, is looking to grow its audience, said Jonathan Zittrain, who previously worked as a managing editor for the Wall Street Post and now writes a book about the Times.
“We’ve been doing this for 50 years.
The media is getting bigger, and that’s the big question: How much is it going to grow and how much is there to be gained by trying to grow it at a bigger scale than it was before?”
But, Zittrained said, the media is “an industry that is trying to keep its audience small.”
“They have a lot of great stories, but the market is not necessarily the same as the industry that you’re writing about,” he added.
The paper’s new approach to its audience may make it less valuable to those other companies, especially the smaller ones that are trying to make the shift from traditional newsrooms to digital media.
In the case of a small paper, the company’s strategy could be risky, Zettrain said.
In a small newsroom, he said, you’re “in the business of selling your product and not the business you’re serving.”
“If you have to take the news out of the paper, it’s very, very difficult,” he explained.
“You’re losing a lot from the news itself, because it’s not being presented in the way that the reader wants.”
In addition, Zettsrain said, many readers are wary of the Times because of its heavy reliance on news, which they feel is not “fair” to them.
“If the new media is not about being fair to the reader, then what’s the point?” he asked.
“Maybe they should have more of an interest in being fair.”
The newsrooms of the past, like those of the 1950s and ’60s, relied on a mix of traditional and new media for news.
A photo from a newsmagazine in the 1930s.