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Tyler Has Some Bookmarks

When I picked up the paper this morning and opened up the Times' SportsTuesday section, I was struck by a story on the attention paid to the homers flying out at YS2.5.  It wasn't because of the content, which, typical of Tyler Kepner, is very good, but rather because in the first seven paragraphs Kepner cites as the main sources of his story two very different but significant baseball websites, Greg Rybarczyk's hittracker Steve Lombardi's waswatching.  As the Times threatens to shutter the Globe, and as old media wonders how the hell to make money in the new media world, this story shows that blogs are doing yeoman's work and providing key analysis and news outside the bounds of typical news gathering methods.  Though we who traffic these sites know this and therefore this assertion may sound uncontroversial, to see two such websites cited on the front page of the Times sports section as his sources by the Yankees' beat writer is a verification and validation of the strengths and speed of the minds (kudos to Greg and Steve) working solely within our own chosen medium.  

Times, and the Times, are-a-changing.*

*now, how do they make money off this?

21 replies on “Tyler Has Some Bookmarks”

*now, how do they make money off this?
They don’t, unless they were early innovators (LoHud) and drove traffic to their site they normally wouldn’t have gotten by filling a clear need (the most immediate updates from the clubhouse).
I grew up delivering the Courant (and before that the afternoon New Britain Herald) then devouring it before school. I love newspapers. But I agree with Nick Carr, the problem is oversupply. The only way to fix that problem is death or evolution.
Newspapers, the good ones any ways, have seen the current crisis coming for at least 15 years. First they got hit hard by craigslist and other online classifieds. Then subscription numbers started declining rapidly. What was the response to either? Now we hear that that the Times could afford to give every one one of their subscribers a Kindle for less than it costs them for the paper it’s printed on.
Only a few newspapers (less than 10, but hopefully greater than five) need to be reporting the national and international news. The rest need to transition into hyperlocal coverage. There’s ad money there that bigger, and online, competitors will miss. Most will move in that direction, some have (like the NB Herald) and some will be dragged kicking and screaming (the Globe). There’s no need to print national and international news uniquely in every small, or even medium, city of the country. It’s a waste of resources and the Times company is right to cut costs.
Think of how many costs would be saved if the Times sent every Globe subscriber a NYT supplement (of national and international news – heck even brand it as “NYT” to take the sting out of the NY bit) to the Globe subscribers. Then the Globe would be free to focus on strictly city and state coverage. We’ll get there eventually, as a weigh point, but it’s going to take a few years. And more big papers won’t make it. Rampant redundancy with real fixed costs (paper, ink, editors, etc) needs to die or evolve into truly unique offerings.
Back to the original question, the Times won’t make money by repackaging some else’s content. They will make money offering unique content. For instance, given their other properties, this site (!) would fill a niche for them. I now read The Economist because the Times is stale and I read baseball blogs because their Sports coverage has always been late or lacking. But another blog, even from someone as good as Kepner? Meh.

The Times is actually innovating in ways that many other old media organizations are not.  Their multimedia features in particular are smart, intuitive, and on many occasions brilliantly designed.  I don’t mean to imply that they need to find a way to make money off hyperlinking to other content, but rather wonder how the Times can make money by embracing the new.  I fear that they are so behind the curve they will never make such a determination.

Did that pricey (designers, programmers, editors) interactive make them money? Did it drive internet users to their site? I don’t think so. And we know it added nothing to their newspaper.
I’m exceedingly skeptical of the Times’ need to innovate online. So far they’ve produced such graphics and video. Some are better than others, but both are only as good as their core product since graphics and video can be found in many other places. The core needs to be the stories and only the stories. They can devote 3000 words to a topic and have it hit with impact. Few other outlets can do so. And on the analysis (and profit) side, The Economist is doing much better. Adding more blogs is meaningless.
The Times should focus on being the best news organization in the country. That means honing the product by cutting costs. The Globe is a perfect example of the redundancy they should be killing. And distributing a national and international supplement to local papers around the country would be true innovation. They aren’t a media company. They’re a news organization. Meanwhile, John Kerry is holding hearings on how to save the Globe…that’s exactly the wrong place for government.

I fear that they are so behind the curve they will never make such a determination.
Just to be clear, I think that second article you linked to shows they’re too far ahead of the curve. To be the paper of record, you need to be a newspaper. Video and graphics add no value for their daily subscribers (who actually pay for content) and most isn’t much better than what’s found elsewhere online. Besides, they’ve innovated in the wrong direction. If they had a truly unique classifieds product (and craigslist has many, many flaws) they’d be in much better shape.

rob: i disagree with you. the times has done a pretty good job building up its web presence. the is highly trafficked and well designed. khoi vin, who handles their design, i think does a great job. just this morning i watched cliff levy’s russian bridge to nowhere story video. that’s definitely value ad.
i don’t see why the times can’t start charging more for online access (they do already) as they and other papers shift away from print. tv used to be free. now we all shell out for cable. a lot.
we pick on the times a lot, and deservedly, but that’s because they, and the wsj, are the best, and because there standards are and should be so high.

For what online access do they charge? They tried and failed.
Their web presence isn’t based on videos and graphics. It’s the stories. They should be charging for access, but then their advertising rates will plummet. It’s tricky.
Cut costs first.

And right on cue:
The New York Times Company reported a first-quarter loss of $74.5 million on Tuesday, compared with a loss of $335,000 in the period a year ago, as it joined the roster of newspaper companies recording the steepest advertising declines in generations.
The worst drop, 31.6 percent, hit the New England Media Group, which consists primarily of The Boston Globe and its site, The company has told unions at The Globe that the paper is on track to lose $85 million this year, and that unless deep cuts are made, the paper will be sold or closed.

Of course, that solution for the Globe does the Times little long-term good. This is their real first test. If they fail, it’s going to be an ugly road.

And we know it added nothing to their newspaper.
This statement sums up your rhetorical efforts here. Assert all-knowingness while making a preposterous claim that you cannot back up and which is based in subjectivity. To claim that the efforts the Times has made towards multimedia and the provision of news via this medium is ridiculous. The Times has actually innovated on this front, and as YF posted above (as me), their work is exemplary. The idea that their “newspaper” is only what shows up in print, on paper, is misguided, and it is probably this same myopic idea of how to provide news and information that has stunted the Times in the greater market.

And in any case, this post was mostly meant as an acknowledgment of our more accomplished colleagues who are doing a great job of providing news and analysis to the reporters themselves, and I want to make sure that is reiterated.

I agree completely with SF and YF here. The Times’ multimedia has added lots of value to their website which has become the main driver of their business. Of particular note are their graphics which help to explain how major news stories unfolded. The mumbai terrorist attacks and the crane failure on 3rd avenue come to mind immediately. I dont work for the times but I can imagine if they let you look at the number of views of their multimedia the point would be proved.

And we know it added nothing to their newspaper.
Does video or the interactive graphics appear in the actual newspaper?

Might want to not ignore the entire comment, Rob. As I said above, “The idea that their “newspaper” is only what shows up in print, on paper, is misguided, and it is probably this same myopic idea of how to provide news and information that has stunted the Times in the greater market.”

Rob, where did you live? Both Paul and myself grew up in the same region. Well, I grew up there post 8th grade, and Paul is from New Haven Westville area.

Really? That’s cool. Rocky Hill. They say it’s exactly halfway between Fenway and YS. Probably why I had such an intense dislike for the Sox. Now we’re just outside of Boston and I actually appreciate the way the bad guys have built their club (certainly moreso than the Yanks). So I find myself very interested in both teams.
Wait if Paul is from New Haven how is he a SF? That’s more Yankee Country – percentage wise, I thought.

New Haven is pretty split down the middle. I work here now, and the percentages are pretty close. My wife’s entire family is from Bristol area, and while I grew up in Mystic area, we now live in Durham area. In the woods. Where I like it! I actually grew up most of my life in Colorado, but my father is from New England, so the pass down was natural. ha.

Ah, okay. My wife did her graduate work at Yale and I watched Games 3 and 4 in 2004 at Christopher Martins. There it was pretty evenly balanced, but I remember folks telling me that there’s a slight Yankee lean in town. No worries – we’re talking percentage points.
Yeah we love the woods too. I’m shocked that there’s still so much open space in Northwest CT.

I’ve spent many a nights walking home from Christopher Martins when I lived down there. Plus, anyone who can afford the land, and wants to be in the woods, doesn’t choose to live in this crapfest. :)

New Haven was heavily tilted toward the Yankees when I was growing up. (Westville, then West Haven, then North Haven). I noticed during a return trip post-2004 that MANY more people were wearing Sox caps, even in more Sox-centric places such as Meriden, than they were when I was living there until 2000.
As for newspapers, I’ve gotten tired of diagnosing their ills, so I’ll summarize by saying this: Newspapers were a victim of the unavoidable (Craigslist, circ declines, the Internet, the recession) and the eminently avoidable (taking on debt, public ownership, slash-and-burn panic moves). They could have survived the former because newspapers provide something no other medium does — in-depth local news, therefore a chokehold on a valuable market. But their ownership screwed them by doing the latter, kicking off this death spiral that now includes the flood of talented journalists leaving the industry (myself, minus the “talented” part, included).

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