Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

NYT Innovation Summary

About 2 weeks ago, BuzzFeed leaked the New York Times Innovation Report, which was nearly a complete copy of an internal study on the iconic news organization. A few days later, Mashable released the full report, which you can read here if you'd like. At nearly 100 pages in length, I'm sure it's difficult for many to find the time. Processing that kind of information into takeaways and summaries can alone take days. Though it is not comprehensive or processed, bellow are my notes from the report. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

  1. 30M Monthly Web Readers, 20M Monthly Mobile Readers, 1.25M Print Subscribers :: Obvious hard statistics showing the growth of Web and mobile content consumption. Makes an easy case for focus.
  2. The focus of the NYT in a nutshell :: Grow the audience, focus on customer experience, collaborate accords the organization, be intentional with content strategy
  3. The team for the NYT Innovation report was a cross-functional team including strategy folks, business columnists, UX designers, editors, and investigative reporters. A “design thinking” approach. 
  4. The wall street Journal has hired an “audience engagement team” and the NYT’s most popular article of all time is an interactive news app. The Washington Post launched WPNVY to focus on design. Design for engagement is critical.
  5. Another piece of the report from page 26 that pushes user experience focus as well in last paragraph.
  6. Page 32, A list of best practices for experimentation, is a great resource for anyone.
  7. “There are many opportunities to repackage our content so that it’s more useful, relevant, and shareable for readers.” - Page 33 of the report, which again points to a focus on user experience
  8. “We have  a tendency to pour resources into big, one-time, projects and work through the one-time fixes to create them, and overlook the less glamorous work of creating tools, templates, and permanent fixes that cumulatively can have a bigger impact…” - Page 37 of the report. 
  9. “Readers have come to expect personalization.” - Page 38 of the report
  10. “Uncertainty will limit our creativity and innovation.” - Page 38 of the report
  11. Building a following is a critical piece to increasing and sustaining reader engagement. Cool UX mockups on page 40 outline how this might be possible.
  12. Data must be structured, tagged, and searchable. There is the view of “journalism”, but the NYT can be looked at through an entirely different lens of “big data”. This opens up an entirely new perspective on the topic. Making data searchable, pulling trends, proving assumptions, building reports, etc. (based on page 42)
  13. “(Buzzfeed) has learned, among other things, that a great Facebook post has even become a better promotional device than a headline…” Page 43
  14. “The key to winning on mobile is winning on social.” -Page 45 of the report :: About 75% of mobile traffic comes via social media. 
  15. Number of fans and followers means very little, as the data shows on page 45 of the report. Engagement means everything. Huffington post has one of the smallest fan bases of competitors but the highest percent engagement by far at 52%. CNN, with 3 times the followers, has only 3% engagement. NYT has 5% engagement.
  16. “The Times made a smart decision when it decided not to establish rules for using social media, preferring to trust reporters and editors… there are no rules, but no real guidance either.”- Page 48 of the report. Implies guidelines might be helpful.
  17. “The notion that journalists should become their own promoters has become a bedrock principle at our competitors.” - Page 48
  18. Page 48 has an awesome “Influencers Map”. 
  19. “The Atlantic and The New Yorker have created signature events that deepen loyalty and make money while staying true to their brands” - Page 49 :: this is on the idea of outdated events at the Times, as opposed to great events other people have offline to build and strengthen the audience.
  20. “To provide more relevant and meaningful user experiences, we need to first better understand our readers - who they are how they use our site.” -page 54
  21. The Guardian recently launched a “Known Strategy” program to collect user data.
  22. “I don’t think we really understand the power of the data and the the audience understanding that came with the subscription model. We’ve been able to build a system of understanding our readers.” Financial Time’s CEO John Ridding
  23. “This will be a historic year for the media industry. Technology is disrupting every distribution platform. Consumers are redefining decades-old consumption habits.” Jusin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg News
  24. “Indeed, a central reason that digital-first organizations like Huffington Post and BuzzFeed have succeeded with lackluster content is because of their excellent product and technology operations.” - Page 62 of the report
  25. The “Reader Experience” group at the times includes 30 Analytics folks, 30 designers, 445 technologists on 2 dozen teams, 120 product managers, and a hybrid R&D team of 8.
  26. This report devotes a significant amount of content to exploring reader experience and how important it is to the success of NYT.
  27. The report discussed the need to make strategy a separate thought process from reporters and the daily grind of writing. Though they all need to be involved, someone or some department needs to be always thinking about strategy, tomorrow, and bigger picture topics.
  28. “Speed wins. When we have good ideas, we should treat them with urgency.” Page 77 of the report
  29. At the Times, 75% of ad revenue and 82% of circulation revenue still comes from print, but digital readership is 600% or more greater than print. “As a business, this is an extremely difficult balance”
  30. “If you wait around for a generation of reporters to do this naturally, you’re going to be left behind” -PAge 82 of the report
  31. “In digital media, technology is a wingman, it’s THE MAN. How something is made and published is often as important as what is made.” -David Carr of the Times
  32. Good points on change through incentive in the report. You have to incentivize the behavior you want to see.
  33. “We need makers, entrepreneurs, reader advocates, and zeitgeist watchers” -Page 91 of the report

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