New York Times Divulges Core Trade Secret by Recycling Old News

November 27, 2020

The New York Times published a detailed explanation of one of its crown jewels,  an honest to goodness trade secret. The news appears on page A2 of the November 26, 2020, newspaper of record. Some may quibble with today’s dump of secret information, but apparently the Gray Lady was not will to let old news rot from indifference. A version of today’s announcement appeared in May 2020 here.

What was this Eureka moment? Here’s the clue:

A Wirecutter Obsession: Spreadsheets

Yes, a digital page with rows and columns. Yep, there was a crude precursor in the distant past by an alleged Babylonian scribe. There there was LANPAR just 50 years ago. But the technology remained undiscovered but for a few trivial products like VisiCalc, 1-2-3, and every MBA’s touchstone, Excel.

Crowing like a coq galois, I noted this statement:

Wirecutter journalists have to be data nerds.

With such a momentous revelation appearing on a day when many fierce but technologically challenged competitors doing the faire le pont, the NYT may be able to recover from this inadvertent recycling of trade secrets.

Button up, people. This is not the slow moving era of Yellow Journalism. This is thumb typing time for those too busy to do “real news.”

But a spreadsheet? Brilliant. Who said invention was dead in the US of A?

But the NYT should be worried. The Norwegian chicken producer Norsk Kylling is shifting from Excel to Info Cloud Suite. Catch up with those chickens so another rooster crow can grace the Gray Lady’s barnyard. But wait! Maybe the NYT uses Oracle, Google, or possibly green ledger paper?

Stephen E Arnold, November 27, 2020


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