'NYT' Report Emphasizes Need For Digital Content, Staff Diversity

The New York Times has released an internal report to outline its goals for the future of its newsroom. The report, titled “Journalism That Stands Apart: The Report of the 2020 Group,” emphasized the NYT’sneed to provide valuable journalism for subscribers, as well as the importance of more visual and digitally native forms of content.

The business model of the newspaper is staunchly “subscription-first,” the report said.

One of the authors, David Leonhardt, took to Twitter to summarize the report. He wrote the NYT is not “trying to win a pageviews arms race and sell low-margin ads against clicks.”

Instead, Leonhardt said the strategy is to provide valuable journalism that readers are willing to pay for.



The report found the least-read stories were usually the most “dutiful,” or in other words, the stories with “minimal added context, without visuals and largely undifferentiated from the competition. They frequently do not clear the bar of journalism worth paying for, because similar versions are available free elsewhere.”

The NYT devotes a large amount of resources to “stories that relatively few people read,” the report found, such as “features and columns with little urgency. Stories written in a dense, institutional language that fails to clarify important subjects and feels alien to younger readers. A long string of text, when a photograph, video or chart would be more eloquent.”

This needs to change, according to the authors of the report, because “to do nothing, or to be timid in imagining the future, would mean being left behind.”

In a memo accompanying the report, executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn wrote they will train reporters to “think visually and incorporate visual elements into their stories” going forward.

The newspaper also emphasized its need to diversify its staff to include “more people of color, more women, more people from outside major metropolitan areas, more younger journalists and more non-Americans.”

Yet in the memo, Baquet and Kahn warned there will be budget cuts this year. “We will lay out the specifics in the coming weeks and months,” they wrote.

The report touted the success its digital extensions "Cooking" and "Watching," as well as the NYT’ daily briefings, one of “the most successful products” it has launched recently. The publisher plans to innovate similar products for readers through email newsletters, alerts, FAQs, scoreboards, audio, video “and forms yet to be invented.”

Additionally, The New York Times is dedicating $5 million to covering Donald Trump’s administration.

As for its print product, the report indicated the publisher needs to rethink the role of its print product, so reporters can focus on digital. The current set-up is “holding back our ability to make further digital changes, and it is also starting to rob the print newspaper of the attention it needs to become even better.”
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