Saturday, 6 September 2008

The future of the New York Times

I have mentioned before that the NYT apparently has a team of 'geeks and gurus' (not my description, I am borrowing it) working on the long-term future of the NYT, and, by extension that of the International Herald Tribune.

One of them, media guru Michael Rogers, the NYT's futurist-in-residence is leaving after two years at the NYT.

His two year in the making primary conclusion?

"I think probably the most interesting thing that emerged from a lot of the research I helped with was just how hard it's going to be to replace paper."

The NYT does like its research, but if that's the most interesting thing to emerge from the work of two years of professional media consulting you have to wonder what other insights he came up with.

I mean, seriously, that's not enough is it?

I think most IHT readers could have served up that gem two years ago, without the research.

The good news is clear - he is less worried about the NYT than he is about the future of some newspapers. The bad news is that he is more pessimistic about others.

So that's all good then.

What I want to know is if he thinks paper is going to be hard to replace:
a) for which demographic? Because for a lot of young people, newspapers don't need to be replaced because they haven't ever loyally bought them.
b) Does he think Newspaper 1.0 needs to be replaced by Newspaper 2.0 if they are to survive?

Mixed Media
by Jeff Bercovici
At 'NY Times,' the Futurist Is Now...Leaving
The New York Times may or may not have a bright future, but as of today it doesn't have a futurist.
New media guru Michael Rogers, who for the past two years has mulled the long-term challenges facing the news media as the paper's
futurist-in-residence, is leaving to go back to consulting. No word yet on whether the Times will replace him.
"It was the idea right from the start that we would make this a mutual engagement," says Rogers, noting that his initial one-year appointment was extended last year at the behest of
Michael Zimbalist, the New York Times Co.'s vice president of research and development.
And what has two years of professional crystal-ball-gazing taught Rogers about the future of media?
"I think probably the most interesting thing that emerged from a lot of the research I helped with was just how hard it's going to be to replace paper," he says. "I've been doing this for 20 years now, and the longer I do it the more it seems like a really good medium that's going to be around for quite a while longer."
Asked whether everything he's learned has made him more or less pessimistic about the Times's prospects, he says, "I've become more worried about some newspapers but less about what the Times is doing. They're doing all the right things. We're looking at quite a shakeout over the next five to eight years, but I think many companies are positioning themselves properly to get through it. I think the Times is doing more than most any other media company I've worked with in the past."
------Disclosure: I've freelanced for the Times.

A Place in the Auvergne
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