Stop the presses!

Earlier this week a copy of the New York Times’ Innovation report leaked, giving us a chance to look at a news organization that is taking a hard look at itself as the media landscape changes at an ever-increasing pace.

The report itself is examines how the NYT is trying (and failing by its own assessment) to transition to a digital-first news organization. I found the report interesting, and applicable to some of the work we are tackling at Ohio State.

This is probably a good time to say that we are not the New York Times (duh). Our work and goals are significantly different. With that said, there are some organizational similarities. We are both large influential brands, have rich print and digital storytelling platforms and loyal audience bases. So while this isn’t an apples to apples comparison, I think there is something to be learned from the Times’ soul-searching.

One item that stands out is that it’s apparent the NYT, while still producing outstanding journalism, is struggling to make a full-fledged shift into the digital realm. The print product remains king, largely because of the revenue it generates. This has created some challenges, because continued audience growth hinges on the Times’ ability to have digital lead the way.

At Ohio State, there are some similar challenges. While our non-print advertising revenue has grown over the past few years, it doesn’t come close to the resources provided by print. So while I think we all agree that we are heading to a digital-only time, there’s less agreement on the speed with which that transition needs to happen.

Will we have print publications in five years? In 10? That is largely unclear at this point. What is clear from the NYT report is that when the change is made, it won’t be as simple as turning off the presses with the flip of a switch.

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