‘New York Post’ gears up for early August web relaunch

What nypost.com looks like today. ()
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Late last month, Robert Thomson, C.E.O. of the new publishing-focused iteration of News Corp., told The Financial Times that the New York Post was working on a plan to compete nationally with large, well-financed digital media brands like Buzzfeed.

“Some of the most successful recent start-ups are basically ersatz tabloid journalism,” said Thomson. “If we can’t do it better than they can, then we’re not as good as we think we are.”

We'll get to judge for ourselves once the Post's much-anticipated web relaunch goes live, which is slated to happen the first week of August, Capital has learned. As with all launches, it could end up being pushed back, although the top-to-bottom overhaul of nypost.com is expected to be completed next month one way or another.

The Post has been slow to develop its digital profile compared to rivals like the Daily News and, more recently, the U.K.'s Daily Mail, whose digital arm, Mail Online, has been covering gobs of U.S. news with significant staffs in New York and L.A. Initially, all three papers shared the oldest problem in the book: bringing the obdurate old guard of tabloid newspapering up to speed on digital journalism, and reversing the prejudice that glamorizes print "exclusives" for online newsbreaks. (Remy Stern, who is in charge of the nypost.com relaunch with oversight from editor-in-chief Col Allan and publisher Jesse Angelo, confronted this conundrum with an all-day digital teach-in at a Hudson Valley country club last fall.)

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But the News and the Mail have for the most part punted on the problem, hiring dedicated staffs to fill pages and pages of their sites with image-heavy instant aggregation of national stories, freeing them from the project of dragging every last old-liner to the trough.

It's worked for them. As we noted last month, nydailynews.com clocked 14.9 million unique visitors during May, and Mail Online 19.4 million, to nypost.com's 6.96 million, according to comScore. (Buzzfeed, as Thomson may already have noticed, had 18.7 million.)

It's unclear whether the Post plans on taking the same approach. As far as we could tell, no new editorial hires dedicated to the paper's digital edition have been publicly announced since the initiative got underway. (For some perspective: Buzzfeed's editorial staff is now about half the size the Post's, which we've heard from insiders numbers around 200.)

A spokesperson for the paper declined to comment on whether the Post's web relaunch will mean more firepower in the newsroom, where about two-dozen longtime employees were recently bought out or laid off. And a News Corp. spokeswoman said she had nothing to add to Thomson's earlier comments.

As for what the new site will look like, it presumably won't replicate the aesthetic of sites like nydailynews.com and Mail Online, which are more or less mirror images of one another, replete with a seemingly endless scroll of cluttered splash headlines and gigantic photos.

The Post is working with Hard Candy Shell, a firm with a reputation for bringing innovative digital design to legacy publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Observer, Newsweek and, most recently, The New Republic. It also worked on redesigning Gawker, where Stern used to be editor.