Politics isn’t the only subject the Internet has managed to blow out of all usable proportion or even reality. New parents looking for sound advice online are likely to leave more afraid than when they started any search.
Enter The New York Times’ newest independent vertical, NYT Parenting. It’s launching today in beta, full of reports and essays on advice and guidance on the myriad issues parents can face in the first five years of their children’s lives, and their lives as parents.
Youngna Park, who a year ago joined the Times as executive product director for Parenting after working for a children’s app developer, said about a year of research prior to her hiring took place before the company decided parenting was the right subject for a new vertical. Meaning one that could create a reader habit, offered the Times a competitive advantage and had the potential to be a stand-alone subscription business. The business model is similar to that of Times’ Crosswords and Cooking, but differs in that both of those subjects were already much more associated with the Times and its coverage. Parenting has been left largely to books and, for a time, magazines (Meredith is the only publisher left with a dedicated title) and in recent years, blogs and online parenting groups operated on Facebook. Parenting is a much more recent addition to regular coverage at the Times.
“We looked at a lot of parenting sites and books and talked to a ton of parents, and there was a real need for quality information, but it was really poor,” Park said. “People were ending up in these Google rabbit holes and Facebook forums, but they didn’t know who to trust. Our goal is to be that source of information that people feel they can really lean on.”
Another issue noticed by Park, along with Jessica Grose, who joined the Times as lead editor for Parenting after being the founding editor of the now-defunct Lenny Letter, is that much of the parenting advice out there now takes on tone that modern parents (mainly Millennials) don’t appreciate.
“Parents said they felt like there wasn’t a lot of content that spoke to them like grown-ups,” Grose said. “[They want articles on] how their lives have changed, that give them actionable information about their relationships and their work, that take on the transformational aspect of parenting.”
So, that’s what the new site will aim to offer. The rollout will use social channels like Facebook and Instagram, where Parenting has a new handle it launched in March in tandem with the launch of its Parenting newsletter. The newsletter sounds like it was a success, as Park said sign-ups (who will all be invited to register for the Parenting site) have exceeded expectations by about five times. She declined to give a specific number.
While Parenting will start off as a free site, and also start off free of advertising or branded partnerships, both of those things are likely to change once the subscriptions start to grow and the data is culled. How Parenting evolves, in its coverage areas and community offerings, depends on what Grose and Park find out during the beta stage. The ultimate goal is to have Parenting be another stand-alone paid subscription service, like Crosswords and Cooking, and one that will hopefully bring in a new group of Times readers. The paper has been using brand offshoots like the podcast “The Daily” to enter new markets, geographic and demographic, to help meet its ambitious goal of 10 million digital subscribers by 2025.
“It’s definitely a goal to get an audience that isn’t the core [audience] interested in the Times,” Grose said. “We want to show how Times journalism is useful in a lot of ways, not just politics and breaking news.”
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