The New York Times Newsroom Talks

by Jillian Burt

10 October 2007

 
Photograph by Dipfan

Photograph by Dipfan

The New York Times routinely opens up a dialogue with the editors of the various sections of the newspaper, its business divisions as well as editorial departments. The Media and Marketing Editor, Bruce Headlam, is taking questions from readers this week.

When asked who the media and technology stories are pitched at, he replied:

I typically imagine two kinds of readers: the inner reader and the outer reader. The inner reader is someone either employed or deeply involved in the media or technology businesses and the outer reader is an interested spectator. When the section works well, we hit the perfect balance between those readers’ interests. If the casual reader isn’t drawn into any of the articles or finds the section too “inside baseball,” then I haven’t done my job.

It’s a job worth doing because — ­ narcissism aside — the media business is pretty interesting right now. Ten years ago, the industry seemed firmly in the control of the men (and they were almost all men) who built mighty conglomerates like Time-Warner and Viacom. Now because of the disruptive power of technologies like the Web, those same companies are nervously trying to figure out how to appeal to the typical 18-year-old who won’t pay to download a 50 Cent CD, won’t watch “The Office” when it airs on Thursday (or might not even watch on TV), and would rather get his news from a blogger than from his local paper.

That transformation has been a punishing one for a lot of businesses — music, television, newspapers and now advertising — and I’d argue that it’s going to have more far-reaching implications well beyond the media business, especially in such areas as medicine and politics.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill Carter quoted Jeff Gaspin, the president of the NBC Universal Television Group, on this subject and his reply is worth reprinting here: ‘‘The shift from programmer to consumer controlling program choices is the biggest change in the media business in the past 25 or 30 years.’‘

That’s the revolution we’re trying capture in our business pages, even when it feels like it’s our own heads falling into the basket.

 

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