It is the best of times for The New York Times — and likely the worst of times for all the local newspapers with Times (or Gazette or Sun or Telegram or Journal) in their nameplates across the land.
When I spoke at state newspaper conferences five or ten years ago, people would say: “It’ll come back. It’s cyclical.” No one tells me that anymore. The old business is plainly rotting away, even as I find myself still documenting the scavengers who turn detritus into gold.
The surviving — growing, even — national news business is now profoundly and proudly digital. All the wonders of the medium — extraordinary storytelling interactives and multimedia, unprecedented reader-journalist connection, infinitely searchable knowledge, manifold reader revenue — illuminate those companies’ business as much as digital disruption has darkened the wider news landscape.
What is this world we’ve created? That’s the big-picture view I’m aiming to offer here today.