Digital Still Second at the New York Times… and a Brand Near You

The picture painted by an internal report obtained by Buzzfeed# is all too familiar — company, brand, agency that received accolades for a product launch, social campaign, or "viral" video are in shambles.

Take a closer look and what you find are cultural issues that still drive internal siloes, lack of collaboration, and — most egregiously — a lack of understanding of how technology is evolving their business and/or unwillingness to learn.

When you only have a hammer

Digital Still Second

Moving fast is not all that it's cracked up to be. To me, making smart-er moves is the name of the new game. The report highlights issues organizations outside the NYT face:

  • being too focused on page one equals being too focused on the org chart, thus presenting that on the company site, or how the agency is organized internally thus making it hard to break through with services that cut across and unify programs at a time when brands are in dire need of them (even though few recognize their value)
  • “a cadre of editors who remain unfamiliar with the web” — often the very people in charge of digital on the brand side and on the program development agency side are specialists in one discipline — you can guess what gets done
  • wekanesses on the back end; legacy systems, patches, lack of integration or transparency on what is going on, etc. etc.
  • inability to kill underperforming products, brands, units, etc.
  • “The very first step … should be a deliberate push to abandon our current metaphors of choice — ‘The Wall’ and ‘Church and State’ — which project an enduring need for division. Increased collaboration, done right, does not present any threat to our values of journalistic independence” — language is very powerful in forming culture; plus, inside speak constantly bleeds into external conversations
  • Another issue: The paper’s Twitter account is run by the newsroom. Its Facebook account is run by the paper’s business side. Sounds familiar?
  • the newsroom has “abdicated completely the role of strategy”


The deep problems, the report says, are cultural, including a sense that the Times will simply serve as a destination — leading to a neglect of social promotion.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effects on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.