The New York Times is branching out into television and movies. And beefing up its podcast offerings. And concentrating on working to integrate New York Times products with smart speaker capabilities. Also, data science for insights into consumer behavior. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget reporting.
As in years past, The New York Times garnered prime real estate kicking off the NewFronts, the annual weeklong period where publishers make a play for advertising dollars.
The presentation, called “New Insights, New Voices, New Audiences,” provided a succinct look at the various strategies the Times is employing as part of an ongoing quest to expand its offerings beyond just reporting news.
“The New York Times is coming for that in-between time we all spend staring at screens,” chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien said, before introducing political reporter turned star podcast host Michael Barbaro. The success of “The Daily,” the podcast hosted by Barbaro, which consistently ranks in the top 10, has been a home run for the Times. Levien introduced Barbaro as “probably the most sought after man inside and outside the New York Times” before bringing him to the stage and asking what it was like to find out he had been named one of People magazine’s 50 sexiest men.
Barabaro said while he isn’t personally sexy, being named to that list “represented the sexiness of journalism,” before going on to describe new ways that the Times is going to continue to use “The Daily” as “a megaphone” to spin-off new podcasts, including branching out into children’s programming. “We aren’t just coming for your time, we are coming for your whole family’s time,” Levin said.
Next came assistant managing editor Sam Dolnick, who oversees digital initiatives. Dolnick spoke about expanding into entertainment. “We’ve had big success going from print to digital to audio, and we think television is next,” he said.
“I don’t know how to make TV, I’m not a television producer. But lots of people are, and we are partnering with them,” he continued, noting that the Times “has the stories.” Programs in the works include Showtime’s “The Fourth Estate,” a documentary series about the Times’ coverage of Donald Trump. The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvey Weinstein investigation is set to get the movie treatment, Dolnick noted. Last week, the paper announced that the rights had been acquired by Plan B, the production company cofounded by Brad Pitt, and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Dolnick described it as “‘All the President’s Men,’ but with three women.”
Other potential candidates for the small screen include The Daily, Modern Love, Sam Sifton’s Cooking columns, The New York Times Magazine’s “Diagnosis” column, the crossword puzzle, and Overlooked, the recent series that wrote obituaries for influential women who were snubbed during their lifetime. Even fictional series based on Times stories were possible, Dolnick said.
Gender editor Jessica Bennett spoke about her role, and the importance of gender balance at The New York Times, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it also makes economic sense. Styles editor Choire Sicha gave a humorous presentation touting the section’s appeal not for its luxury reporting but also for its youthful edge. “We’re the only desk of the New York Times you want to party with,” he said, tongue somewhat in cheek.
Other reporting initiatives include re-branding both the daily and the Sunday business sections, which will roll out over the coming year, and continuing to focus on covering social media companies.
The presentation closed with the most pointed pitch to marketers: data insights gleaned from user behavior, and its potential to help advertisers.