The Web and now mobile phones have not been kind to news publishers - both magazines and newspapers. Google and other search engines have stolen significant chunks of their general ad revenues. Craigslist, Kajiji and others have siphoned off big pieces of newspapers classified ad revenues. Yelp and others are setting up better city/community rating services for local small businesses like restaurants, specialty shops and and other services. And the Web's info/news sites have much better breaking news immediacy.
The newspapers and magazine media have moved to the Web; but their initial forays lacked good Web design and development savvy. At the same time the Web made demands on the new newspaper websites. The Press found that unless they offer free readership, they could not compete with Web incumbents like Yahoo, MSN and dozens of other website and thousands of specialty blogs like Bookraft here.
But the tides are starting to change for newspapers and magazines.Over the past two years the NYTimes has been a good example of what is possible when a newspaper starts to master Web technology and business practices. For example, the NYTimes is showing an increasing amounty of Web 2.0 savvy. Like many of its large newspaper cohorts, the NYTimes is using such Web 2.0 fixtures as tabs, scrollers and accordions to make quick access to multiple stories on a single page. Its photo galleries use nifty Flash-enabled slideshow viewers.
But of late the NYTimes is stepping well beyond the "newspaper norm" and has been incorporating ever more sophisticated Web components and designs in the presentation of its news. The Business section:
The NYTimes portfolio app, stock screener, and analysis tools are as good as [if not better than] the best from the likes of CNBC, Morningstar or Google Finance. And there are plenty of supporting financial components:
These are savvy tools yet they are also very approachable. For stocks and financial analysis the NYTimes Business section has become my goto work environ - and its available for the cost of a free registering.
The NYTimes has lots of extra goodies. Photographers will really enjoy the lavishly designed photo slideshows:
And the mapping presentations have been outstanding. Here is the map-graphics from the devestating Sichuan Earthquake in China two months before the the Beijing Summer Olympic games:
This is a map that would make cartographer extraordinaire, Edward Tufte, proud.
But the Web 2.0 sophistication does not end here. Take a look at the new NYTimes Skimmer - which allows readers to scan through articles in the digital pages very quickly and efficiently:
The Skimmer has 3-4 different layouts which users can customize to scan through the Times very comfortably.
In sum, the NYTimes is using more and more sophisticated Web 2.0 tools to make its "All the news fit to print" much more approachable. So the NYTimes certainly gets the Tech/RIA side of Web 2.0 very well. But on the Social Networking side - not so well. In effect, the NYTimes is still taking baby steps.
Social Networking Baby-steps
Yes there are more and more blogs which attract a steady stream of loyal readers to such info-venues as Goal, Living Lens and DealBook among 2 dozen very good blogs. Each of the blogs cultivates its readership with moderated comments, questions and highlights. And the NYTimes has its own social networking section, Times People.
But .... Times People does not fully connect yet. Not like other social networking sites like Facebook, Linkedln or even Business Week's Business Exchange. First, Times People has no links to any of the popular Web Networks like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Linkedln, etc. Second you cannot recommend anything other than NYTimes articles to your fellow Times People. In fact you cannot easily point/link to other media and info sources easily within Times People [Hint to Times People people - take a look at Business Week's Business Exchange, Aaardvark.com, and Ning.com for just a small sampler of Open Social Networking sites and what they offer their subscribers/members].
Finally, Times People does not integrate well a) with the NYTimes set of blogs nor b)with the great components and tools just described available in the other sections of the newspaper. I would love to use the NYTimes business and financial portfolio tools and results to make a point in any of the NYTimes blogs as well as Times People. Most of all I would love to have access to say SEC Edgar Financial figures, Wharton Economic data, Wolfram Web Alpha and other economic and social indicators so I could quickly fact check and/or marshal arguments
So give the NYTimes top marks for mastering the Web 2.0 components and mashables; but give the NYTimes only passing marks on mastering the People and Social Networking side of the Web. However, the social side is the toughest to tame - and given the rapid development of the RIA side, I fully expect the NYTimes with its great content and idea leaders to emerge as a major digital presence based on its "community for ideas" offerings.