Credit: Gina Argentina
Credit: Gina Argentina

Considering how the New York Times is coping with the the plight of the publishing industry and news media better than most, it’s not surprising to see that they might be pursuing a more symbiotic editorial model. Granted, when it comes to weathering the storm, the NYT is a lot larger in both scope and scale (size, authority, and audience) than many of its contemporaries, so it has a definite edge. But its continual efforts to reinvent its content model are plain.

In addition to everything it’s done with blogs and Times Wire (a real time news feed), it seems to be pursuing all three facets of a symbiotic editorial model. Most recently, not only has it started thinking of its readers as users, but it’s implemented a diversified ad-revenue model to go with it. As Adage reports:

[…] Derek Gottfrid, senior software architect and product technologist at The New York Times, said the company has quit calling online readers “readers,” instead referring to them as users. […]

“When we think traditionally about creation [at The New York Times] it was limited to people within the Times,” [said Derek Gottfrid, senior software architect and product technologist at NYT]. “We created for readers … [for whom] it was a passive experience. But as we moved online, we wanted to move people from readers to users.”

This shift to users-instead-of-readers is an important part of the transition toward becoming a social news organization. As Alan Rusbridger, the Editor-in-Chief of an equally auhtoritative newspaper, The Guardian, noted in a recent interview, there is a blurring between the reader and the journalist, so it’s become necessary to involve the reader more and create a community around your journalist core.

But more importantly, the NYT’s shift toward users-instead-of-readers is also seen in its integration of apps and what those apps might mean for its revenues. Overall, it looks to be evolving into a veritable social news organization. As the AdAge article elaborates, to coax people from being readers to being users:

[…] the company has opened up its [APIs]. The Times has taken content and data — both internally created material, such as movie reviews and best-seller lists, and external data, such as campaign-finance and legislative information — and opened up the APIs so that outside developers can create tools for its consumers.

Among the results: Instantwatcher mashes up the “Watch Instantly” program from online movie-rental service Netflix with Times movie critics’ top choices. Another app, called NYTExplorer, provides an alternative article-search function to the one that exists on

These apps demonstrate how the NYT is diversifying their ad-revenue model. The “Watch Instantly” app, for instance, seems a lot like an affiliate marketing tactic — i.e. a performance-based referral marketing model.

Purusing this kind of ad-revenue diversification and the technology to implement it is 2/3 of the symbiotic editorial equation. The reaming third is integrating a full-sevice marketing agency into your organization (as Vice Magazine has), and as the Nieman Journalism Lab recently documented, the NYT has an advertising R&D lab that seems poised to evolve into just such a full-sevice marketing agency.

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