This week: The paper that ate the internet.
So my theory about the digital success of the New York Times goes something like this: It’s the paper that ate the internet. What is the Opinion section if not just a well-edited version of Thought Catalog, with more famous names? Some other recent points to bolster that argument:
- Starting Trouble With Times Media Columnist Ben Smith (New York)
I don’t totally get why Ben left BuzzFeed for the Times, but his new job seems like it’s incredibly fun and he’s perfectly suited for it. The same energy that now drives his column was what turned BuzzFeed News into a player, and it’s 100% an internet approach. (Ben was my boss for many years at BuzzFeed; yes, he often walked off mid-sentence while clearly composing a tweet but it was also somehow all very normal.)
- How Choire Sicha Is Steering Style in a Crisis (Study Hall)
This was a great profile (it ran in July but what is time?) of New York Times Style Section editor Choire Sicha — formerly of Gawker and the Awl — who has quietly turned his section of the paper into one of the best blogs on the internet, and made it feel like a totally different operation than the rest of the paper. And Taylor Lorenz!
- Scoop: New York Times exploring a Wirecutter subscription (Axios)
Also relevant here: The Times has made incredibly good use of their acquisition of Wirecutter a few years ago. In terms of driving sales to Amazon, there may be other commerce sites online that do better, but none has come close to creating as strong a brand for it, and so it makes sense the NYT is thinking about how to turn that value into a subscription product.
I am curious though: have any other large global papers managed to co-opt the digital insurgency so thoroughly?
TikTok Wins Reprieve From U.S. Ban (New York Times)
TikTok isn’t being forced out of the Apple and Google Play stores tonight. I still don’t really believe any sale will ultimately go through — the dynamics of a very small trade war are set, so whatever plays out from here is going to be political theater. TikTok without the AI software at its heart is not remotely the same app, and China has been clear they’re not letting that code into the hands of any U.S. company.
IAC’s Dotdash continues acquisition spree (Axios)
Dotdash’s story is wild to me — in the midst of a global pandemic, one kernel of accepted wisdom is that digital media has been struggling, yet Dotdash is acquiring new sites because they have cash to burn: “Dotdash grew its revenue by 18% last quarter to $44.6 million, its 13th consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth.” What!
Neat research tool: The Newspaper Navigator is an AI-powered image tool that lets you search an archive of over 1.5 million U.S. newspaper photos from 1900–1963, a project from the Library of Congress Labs. This seems especially handy if you are looking for historical images of balding white men with mustaches.
NEWSLETTER 📩 / PODCAST 📻
Isabelle Roughol formerly ran LinkedIn’s global editorial team — her newsletter includes regularly updates from Borderline, a podcast for defiant global citizens, which is also runs. Both are very good, and feel very needed at this moment in the world!
From: Summer update: Tech and the new normal (Benedict Evans)