Saturday, February 13, 2010

Successful Innovative Companies: Volume 17

The Successful Innovative Company of the week is: The New York Times.
What they do right: I can narrow this down to one thing that in my mind sets them apart from all the other print news. They adapted to the internet very well. They have advertising but not very much and it is restricted to the margins not placed in the middle of the articles. Their articles are in nice big print that is easy to read. They cover stories that are really interesting. This is not restricted to The New York Times but they just seem to cover stuff every now and then that is original and interesting.

For example, one of their reporters was held captive by the Taliban for over seven months and when he returned he wrote this very thorough story about it. Another story, much less dramatic, is a book review of Born to Run where the author takes a run around New York barefoot with Chris McDougall.

They are the most accessed online print newspaper. Their Alexa ranking for news is #6 which is the highest of any print newspaper in the world. It's easy to access too. You don't have to log in or pay money and you get to read from the most popular newspaper in the world, based on Alexa ranking. According to Wikipedia The Wall Street Journal and USA Today both have about double as many subscribers which is still significant. However, I am rarely sent newspaper clipping like I am forwarded online newspaper stories. So, in the battle of information I think it's better to be the biggest on the internet. I mean what research librarian has the power of the entirety of Google?

What they could do better: sometimes they do ask me to log in when I am two pages through a three page story. Since I read so few articles from any one newspaper (I usually use Google News) I draw the line at creating another login where I'll inevitably get sent more emails I won't read.

I also think that The New York Times has probably not fully realized their prominence in the world of journalism. I read one article that said they were planning to create some sort of system to charge people to read it online. I don't think they have done it yet but my point is: they are the leader in what one company can do for daily news publishing. There are news companies out there like CNN or BBC that are ranked higher but consider the way they give news. Their news is often in short blurbs by information hungry reporters. The NY Times on the other hand is journalists who write complete articles. Like Twitter versus a blog. They are both important for information and appeal to different types of people or when people are in different moods. So I'm not saying that one is better than the other. I'm saying that The NY Times is the leader of it's category.

In the book I've been reading (which I will eventually review) one of the themes is prioritizing your life. It's a book about how to make a living and have time to pursue your money consuming passions. The author says, pretty much strait forward, that you are better off trying not to make millions of dollars but instead spending your time with your friends and family and doing things that you want to do. So as The NY Times considers charging people for their paper I ask what is more important: money or readers? A business person would say money and an artist would say readers. As something of an entrepreneur and writer I can say that being a household name is worth more than any given number of dollars. Millions of dollars sit there and maybe you can make it a little bigger every year. A household name can create something and make even more money, you just might have to wait a little bit until the pay day. Besides, Google has done so well simply on advertising instead of subscriptions that I think other companies should keep that in mind before turning to a subscription model.

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