February 19, 2012

Dragging the NYT Into the 21st Century

Art Brisbanes’s public editor column this week is LOL funny. I mean, who’s heard the word “portal” in the same sentence as “web” or “internet” or “newspaper” or “journalism” since about 2002? The concept has changed, become more sophisticated, to be sure, but it still represents a basic assumption of interactivity, i.e. feeding the medium what it demands.

I’m not criticizing Brisbane (I’ll do that in another post later). Instead, I’m fascinated that he’s pointing out this failure to use the medium well at this late date. It cannot be that the collective mind of The New York Times does not understand the interactive, socially-driven, (multi)medium of the internet. It must be that the collective mind of the Times does not care — it (the mind) being The (by God) New York Times.

Brisbane’s advice — be a transparent, interactive portal — was sound in 2002. Today, it reads like the proverbial yellow clipping found stuffed in an old wall — a curious,¬†archaeological¬†find.

There are many things the Times does very well on its web site. And I’m impressed that, so far, its pay model seems to be working. But its web product still holds readers at arm’s length. It is still a lecture rather than a conversation.

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