In the wake of Executive Editor Jill Abramson’s sudden exit from NYT this week – she’s rumored to have been pushed out when she spoke up about gendered pay discrepancy – comes another ill-timed controversy the paper probably didn’t need. Buzzfeed got their hands on a revealing 96-page internal New York Times report that details the papers struggle to stay relevant and top-of-mind in the rapidly changing digital age, in large part due to a stagnant and stubborn internal culture.
I recommend reading the entire report (no doubt countless b-school students soon will) but the Buzzfeed article does a good job of covering off on it. The report is one of those things that’s more than the sum of its parts – it perfectly encapsulates how this generational turnover is perhaps the starkest contrast of any previous cultural shift, which comes with a lot of excitement but also a lot of fear, panic, and denial. And in a delicious meta twist – it speaks volumes that Buzzfeed was the one to break it.
Of course nothing can (or should) replace traditional journalist or news reporting – blogs quite literally live off of the content of larger journalistic operations which have actual resources to aid in long-form investigation and reporting (not to mention, one hopes, a stronger sense of integrity in their reporting). But NYT, and other traditional outlets of its ilk, need to lean in to the changing landscape rather than resist it. Otherwise it’s the music-industry-of-the-late-90s all over again. Here’s hoping this report forces the Grey Lady to start taking some much needed steps…because no one wants Perez Hilton reporting the news.