“The traditional New York Times meetings about what goes up on the front page have changed,” Andrew Ross Sorkin revealed to Henry Blodget during today’s IGNITION 2010 conference on the future of media. “Now the meetings are about what will go on the web.”
“People are recognising that more and more people are reading their news not on the front page of the Times, but on the web … And it’s not just the younger generation [at the NYT] that is thinking that,” Sorkin said.
Sorkin maintained that the Times will never “get to where TMZ is playing,” and while strategies such as unmoderated comments and compensating writers based on web traffic might work for some digital media sites from a business perspective, the Times will still hold on to its legacy as a brand.
There are people who pray to the alter of journalism more than they should, but you actually need people to work on the stories that won’t get hits … How do we weigh what works? Did it get the most hits? [Or] did it do something for the brand?
Blodget asked whether Huffington Post could be worth more than the New York Times in 5 years (the same question he asked Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau yesterday). Sorkin said that it “could be,”, but added that “it’s a different product.”
While Sorkin did not reveal whether or not Dealbook would be subject to the upcoming paywall at the Times website, he said the overall paywall plan for the Times is to employ more of a “pay meter” than a “paywall.”
Asked if Rupert Murdoch was “blowing it” by erecting a hard-line paywall, Sorkin answered:
I do think a hard wall is a really tough proposition. We saw it with Times Select. People want to be able to taste, to see what is going on, before they pay up.
And Murdoch’s forthcoming iPad-only newspaper?
Sorkin says he’s going to subscribe. But he also thinks that, given the price point, the subscription revenue will be too small for the economics to work.
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