'NY Times' Releases Today's Paper Web App

by , Dec 5, 2013, 4:14 PM
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The New York Times on Thursday introduced an updated version of its Web application for tablet and desktop Web browsers that mimics the look and feel of a newspaper’s print edition. The new “Today’s Paper” app is an outgrowth of an experimental Web app that the Times launched in September 2012 optimized for the iPad.

Because the Today’s Paper section of the app proved to be among the most popular, the NYT turned it into a stand-alone app. Specifically, it includes all sections and articles organized as they are in the print version, along with the same photos, and select video. Users also have the option to access editions for the last seven days.

“With Today’s Paper, readers who enjoy the serendipity of reading The New York Times in print can now enjoy that same rich experience on their tablet or Web browser,” stated Jill Abramson, the newspaper's executive editor.

That might sound counterintuitive, considering the emphasis on personalized news in the digital era, but the move shows there is still demand for combining the best aspects of print in digital newspaper editions, especially for well-established brands like the NYT.

The newspaper emphasized that the app was built with HTML5 technologies and responsive design principles.

That includes optimizing use for both portrait and landscape modes, as well as scrolling navigation, swiping and the ability to read articles offline. Denise Warren, executive vice president, NYT digital products and services, call the Today’s Paper app the next step in the newspapers to develop digital products that give subscribers “innovative ways to access our content.”

Appealing to both legacy and newer audiences is one of the challenges newspapers face in the app environment, noted Amy Mitchell, director, journalism research at the Pew Research Center. “On the one hand are the long-time print subscribers that want that print experience digitally, and on the other are new digitally oriented audiences who are in interested in more technological bells and whistles,” she said. 

In the third quarter, digital subscriptions for NYT increased 28% to 727,000. But digital ad revenue fell 3.4% from a year ago and the newspaper overall net loss of $24.3 million, despite the digital subscriber gains. During the earnings call, Times executives pointed to upcoming digital initiatives including the launch of a redesigned NYTimes.com Web site in the first quarter of 2014.

The Today’s Paper app, which replaces the Times Web app for the iPad, will also be accessible on tablet and desktop browsers, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer. (NYT also has a native version of its app for iPad.) It is available, however, only to Times digital subscribers and home delivery customers who link their account to digital access. 

A Times spokesperson said the company would promote the app across its online and offline channels, as well as through some external marketing efforts. 

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