The Gray Lady: A New Approach to Real News

July 31, 2020

DarkCyber wants to capture a couple of quotes from “Newsonomics: The New York Times’ New CEO, Meredith Levien, on Building a World-Class Digital Media Business — and a Tech Company.”

The first thing DarkCyber noted is that the NYT will pivot from “real” news to a different business: Technology. Publishing companies have a long track record of innovation in technology. The pivot, therefore, is going to be a continuation of this success trend line, right?

We noted this statement:

The publisher [40-year-old A.G. Sulzberger] is a decade younger than me. The thing that I’ve always said about him, which I think is true about both of us, is that we’re both wired as old souls. Most of what we’re both trying to do is to think what this is going to feel like three years from now, five years from now. And I think he thinks, as the whole family thinks, what’s this going to mean 10 years from now, 20 years from now? We might not have the years, but we’re certainly pushing ourselves to have that mindset. It’s been my experience that everybody in the Sulzberger family has that mindset.

Remarkable a techno-news outfit thinking in terms of decades. How long is that in Wall Street time? How long in Internet time?

And a final quote:

Engineering now is the second largest functional area at the New York Times, only behind journalism, and the largest function by far on the business side.

How will the NYT deal with technical debt? Will the NYT emulate Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google?

And what about objectivity?

Technology is objective. It is the use of technology which has political, social, and economic consequences. And what about the two decade view?

Wall Street and TikTok types have a somewhat more truncated view of “time” as well. The NYT’s digital history seems to be forgotten. The LexisNexis “exclusive,” the Jeff Pemberton Times Online thing, the indexing operation in New Jersey, etc. etc.

Today’s revolution has taken about 50 years to arrive. The result? A newspaper company becoming a technology company. And technical debt? Right.

Stephen E Arnold, July 30, 2020


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