Changes are afoot at the Gray Lady, and they all center on its audience.
The New York Times just announced it is establishing a Reader Center that will offer improved response to tips, reader feedback, and questions, regardless of the channel in which they are submitted. It will also help journalists build communities around issues that matter most to readers, ensure readers’ voices are heard, promote greater transparency in stories covered, and encourage collaboration across company departments.
“We want to capitalize on our readers’ knowledge and experience, using their voices to make our journalism even better,” wrote Clifford Levy, a deputy managing editor at The Times, in a letter to staff about the announcement. He said the Reader Center “will work across the newsroom and with opinion, and it will have close ties to colleagues in marketing, product and other parts of the company.”
In a separate announcement, The Times also said it is eliminating the position of public editor. Liz Spayd, who currently holds the role, recently wrote that, in the coming weeks, The Times will start customizing the way stories are delivered to readers according to their individual tastes, interests, location, and other factors.
— Clifford Levy (@cliffordlevy) May 31, 2017
This spate of announcements shines light on a broader effort by the entire Times organization to get closer to its audience. By expanding its reach across media platforms and involving its audience directly in the stories that shape their world, The Times is doubling down on its relationship with readers, subscribers, viewers, and listeners.
Ejieme Eromosele, managing director of customer experience at The Times, echoed these sentiments on an episode of the Outside In podcast.
Whereas in the past readers were seen as an avenue to generating more advertising revenue, today that view has changed. To thrive in the new media landscape, where audiences expect on-demand access and personalization across devices and platforms, she said The Times has shifted to placing a greater focus on the customer experience.
“It’s not only about acquiring new customers and making sure that we can get them to our domain,” Eromosele said. “It’s about understanding who they are, what they need, and what they’re getting out of The New York Times, and making sure we can provide that.”
If these recent moves are any indication, it’s clear that The Times understands the vast knowledge and influence of its audience, that they have the ability to carry the company into a new era in journalism that’s marked by broader access, greater accountability, and a wider variety of perspectives and experiences.