The title of this post may sound as if we are just entering the digital age whereas, in terms of a cultural shift, we are already way into it. Many conventional publications like the New York Times are going through existential crisis because more people prefer to get their news from social networking websites like Facebook (1 in 10 people in the US prefer to get their news from Facebook).
As someone who keeps a finger on the pulse of social, political and cultural conversations going on on the Internet I know that the problems newspapers like the New York Times are facing are more ethical, political and ideological and unless these problems are taken care of no matter the modernization or paradigm shifts are going to help, the digital age has played an important role in the dwindling of their presence.
This Wired article explains in detail how the new version of the New York Times is shifting from conventional journalism to providing highly personalized content whether it is news or something related to health and lifestyle. The publication is trying to take its cues from Internet media companies like Netflix, Hulu and HBO.
One big problem is that neither the author of the Wired article understands what exactly is the problem with the New York Times and tragically, nor do, maybe, the people trying to turn the behemoth around. The author is obsessed with Donald Trump whereas, he is not the problem for New York Times and it isn’t him who has an impact on the decrease or increase of its subscribers, whatever they may like to tell themselves.
Fortunately for them, they understand that one of the biggest problems for the publishers is that lots of content – whether they want to call it fake news or real news – is available for free on the Internet. When content is free, it becomes difficult to pay for it unless there is an overwhelming reason. Since most of the content on the Internet is freely available, more than 99% publications depend on advertising revenue and even that revenue isn’t enough to keep these publications afloat because rates for clicks and impressions have been going down and down. They still haven’t figured out how to switch from conventional publishing to digital publishing in a profitable manner.
Again, adapting to the digital culture is just one aspect of the problem. They need to re-establish themselves as a trustworthy news source people would actually like to pay for.