INSIDE THE TIMES, A GOOD IDEA THAT NEEDS BETTER IMPLEMENTATION

Files under General | Mar 27th

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Last Monday, The New York Times introduced a new index section: INSIDE THE TIMES.

So, many critics (who I have the feeling don’t read the print edition of the paper), reacted as expected with any changes in The New York Times.

They hated the new section.

Very much.

The reasons?

Here a some:

“Inside the Times feels a bit excessive — a barrier to reaching the stories rather than a map to finding them. As one close Times reader pointed out to me, it’s an odd decision to devote so much prime space to teasers at a time when the news hole is already shrinking — and when more and more readers aren’t bothering with the physical paper in the first place.” (Jeff Bercovici)

“I hate the new and expanded news summary The New York Times introduced today on pages 2 and 3. It’s inefficient, wasteful, and ultimately insulting” (Jeff Jarvis)

And these comments:

“Terrible. First I thought there had been some kind of graphic error. Then I thought someone had just a very very very bad idea. Now yu start reading the paper on page 4 or five? Mad.”

“It’s ugly, cramped, ill-rhythm-ed: It sets off a reflexive contraction of our information receptors to the most robotic level of function.”

“Great! It’s three more pages of the Times that I don’t have to read anymore.”

“It amazes me how determined the newspapers are to go after people who don’t read newspapers, while neglecting the people who do.”

“It’s awful, and it won’t last. In fact I give it six months.”

“What a total waste of space. If you read the NYT, you already “get it.” Or else you’d be reading USAToday.”

And I added my own comment:

Jeff,

It depends.

You can do stupid summaries for stupid non-readers, or you can do better summaries for smart readers.

As you can see here, INNOVATION did in 2003 this 24 Hours briefing on six pages for a new newspaper that wanted to be like a daily Economist.

Some years after, the same idea and design was introduced a few days ago by LA GACETA in Madrid.

The rationale behind this daily briefing was to present the most relevant news, pictures and graphics of the last 24 Hours in order to devote the rest of the compact newspaper to the best stories of the day.

So, we give you the news of the world in six pages and now we will give you more pages for the stories that really matter.

The new formula is:

20% of the space for the 80% of the news.

80% of the space for the 20% of the most relevant news.

Do it with first-class design and graphics.

And do it with what INNOVATION calls the RADAR team, which tracks the news for online operations.

In a newspaper like The New York Times, which still uses, and abuses,\the “jumping” disease, this new News Summary is — if I may say so — an excellent step forward.

Let me explain my reasons to be more optimistic.

Jose Belden, founder of Belden and Associates, told me that after more than 40 years of doing survey research for newspapers in the United States, he was amazed that since the first audience research done in 1947, newspaper readers were, and are, requesting almost the same things from newspaper publishers and editors.

And at                                                                    the top of the list, they want:

1. More Indexes

2. More Summaries.

3. More Anchoring.

4. More Labeling.

5. More Graphics.

6. More Photos.

7. More Digesting.

8. More Color.

9. More Local News.

10. And No “jumps”

Well, congratulations to The New York Times, that more than sixty years later, listens to the readers!

Next, kill the “jumps” that are really hated by its dear critics and all the readers.

Including me.



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