A weekly round-up of books, news, thoughts, recipes, and miscellany for the weekend.
The New York Times Innovation Report: I’ve been blathering to anyone who will listen about the Innovation Report for a few weeks, and I’m not quite done being evangelical about it. Neither is the Nieman Journalism Lab (a project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard), which called it “one of the key documents of this media age.” The Innovation Report was intended only for internal use at the Times, but when it was leaked it offered the entire journalism and media world a candid and surprising look at how one of our greatest media organizations is struggling in the digital age.
There are lots of incredibly valuable takeaways in the report, (here are six of the top takeaways, according to Mashable), but I think the broader picture that the report paints of the Times is just as valuable. The New York Times is struggling to stay relevant, and it’s falling woefully behind in the areas of digital innovation that have become pillars of success in this Internet age. Even in the past five years, the media game has changed drastically, and at an alarmingly fast rate–the type of rate that inevitably favors start-ups and leaner, digital-first organizations. That’s why media organizations that have only been around for a few years–sites like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post–have already surpassed the Times in traffic and are successfully poaching talent from their newsroom.
The Times still operates with the expectation that readers will come to them, rather than realizing that they have to find readers where they already are. The report cites the classic Kodak case study of how that company swiftly lost market dominance when new technology changed the photography industry. The takeaway from that study is that Kodak thought they were in the business of film, but really they were in the business of memories. The Times still operates like they are in the business of newspapers, when really they are in the business of information. People adapt swiftly to new methods for reaching a goal (whether the goal is preserving memories or staying informed), and so companies should focus on the goal itself, and not try to hem customers into existing pathways simply because they are already established. For the Times that means adapting to a world where people increasingly want to read their news online, and for traditional book publishers, editors, and agents that means remembering that we are first and foremost in the business of stories and information, and only secondarily in the business of books, ebooks, apps, or any format-specific product.
This is exciting, important stuff, especially for anyone who works in traditional media like I do! If you read anything about the future of media this year, read this. The full leaked report can be found here.
Soccer, Sausages, and Beer: In case talking about the future of media has you all wound up (…just me?), go ahead and wind down with a World Cup game, a sausage, and a beer. What’s better to start the weekend than some futbol, cased meat, and brewed happiness? Bon Appétit did a great round up of The World Cup of Sausage, where you can find sausages from every country participating in the World Cup. And then pick out a beer to match from this list, which lists the most popular beer for each World Cup country.
And if you’re a Brazil fan like me and want to start the weekend off with a big smile, watch this New York Times video collage of Brazilians reacting to their first World Cup goal. It’s kind of hilarious and adorable and infectiously exciting!