Washington Post journalists aren’t the only big-city-daily reporters who are all about to see how well their stories perform on digital platforms. The New York Times, too, will share that Web-traffic data with its newsroom, Executive Editor Dean Baquet and opinion page Editor Andy Rosenthal told staffers last month in a memo (below).
Baquet and Rosenthal stress that “There will be no traffic goals for desks or writers.” But, they say, “we’re flying blind in many parts of the organization about how readers are finding, reading, sharing, reacting to and following up on our journalism.”
Access will roll out gradually, and will be newsroom-wide “probably in a matter of months.”
Six months after all of you embraced new ways to serve as many people as possible with your excellent journalism, we’re attracting more readers and more subscribers than ever before. The audience development project will continue, and gain pace.
The next critical step is to share data and analysis across the newsroom and editorial department. Nearly all of our competitors share information about readership openly with reporters and editors. We’ve heard and heeded those of you who have called for access to more information.
Our editorial judgment always — always — comes first and prevails. Widening access to data is not about chasing clicks or keeping score on which article gets best read, or about deciding what to cover. There will be no traffic goals for desks or writers.
But we’re flying blind in many parts of the organization about how readers are finding, reading, sharing, reacting to and following up on our journalism.
The insight offered by analytical tools also will help us take steps to ensure that every story has the greatest possible impact. It will help us run experiments and learn from them. And it will inform our evolving strategy in areas like social and mobile.
Over the last few months, we’ve been building new tools that will make it far easier to get and interpret reader data, in ways useful to your job and reflecting your interest. We’re ready to provide the necessary training and guidance.
We’ll start by providing access to a limited number of editors and desks so that we can train them and refine our tools with their feedback. But we’ll move quickly, probably in a matter of months, across the entire newsroom and editorial department.
The first group to receive access will include digital functions where analytics are essential for daily work, like the news desk, producers and digital deputies. Then we will provide training and access to the editing and production ranks and then to reporters. We know there is a wide range of curiosity: some editors and reporters are already deeply interested in this information, while many others regard it as an additional burden in an already packed day. Engage at your level of comfort, but please join in.
Our goal in staging the rollout is not to restrict information — editors are encouraged to share numbers if asked by reporters — but to ensure we’ve got the right system in place and to make sure we’re not overwhelming the audience team, which will oversee the training and coaching.
We are a rare company that derives a majority of revenue from our loyal readers. That creates a powerful financial imperative to focus on quality and impact rather than just scale. Our main measure of success will remain unchanged: Great journalism.
Thanks to those who volunteered their time to help us come up with a plan that fits the unique needs of The New York Times: Justin Bank, Phil Corbett, Matt Ericson, Tyson Evans, Elisabeth Goodridge, Peter Lattman, Steve Mayne, Hannah Poferl, Karron Skog, Sam Sifton, Alex MacCallum and A.G. Sulzberger.
Expect to hear much more in the next few months and please let us know if you have questions, comments or concerns in the meantime.
Dean and Andy