Complete Times innovation report warns of digital lag

The Times building. (AP Photo)
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A day after New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger made the jaw-dropping announcement that now former editor Jill Abramson would be replaced by second-in-command Dean Baquet, Buzzfeed's Myles Tanzer got a hold of an almost-complete copy of a buzzed about iternal report on the company's digital failings and future.

In the document, which Capital first wrote of last week, a team led by Times reporter and Times Co. scion Arthur Gregg Sulzberger warned that the publication is not moving quickly enough to improve its digital operation in the face of stiff competition.

“They are ahead of us in building impressive support systems for digital journalist, and that gap will grow unless we quickly improve our capabilities,” the report'sa author's wrote, citing competitors like Vox, Business Insider and Buzzfeed. “Meanwhile, our journalism advantage is shrieking [sic] as more of these upstarts expand their newsrooms.”

The report, titled "Innovation," went on to say that many Times editors lack the knowledge and experience required to support a digital expansion, and that the newsroom is too displaced from the rest of the company, particularly the technology department. It also suggests a relaxation of the division between church and state, or the wall between its business and editorial operations.

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“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," its authors wrote. "Increased collaboration, done right, does not present any threat to our values of journalistic independence.”

The report goes on to suggest TED Talk-style events, an improved op-ed platform and giving thought to killing digital features—such as the Scoop app and international home page—that haven't found much success.

“While we receive accolades for our digital efforts like ‘Snowfall,’ we nevertheless are at risk of becoming known a [sic] a place that does not fully underhand [sic], reward, and celebrate digital skills,” its authors said.