The New York Times Is Preparing For The Future

With all of the turmoil about the future of journalism, the New York Times is taking a proactive role in staking out it’s future in what might be a newspaper-less world. Today the company released a downloadable Adobe Air application that brings together the immediacy of the online world with the serendipity and browsing of the physical world. See a video demo of the application in action.

Times Reader 2.0 Front Page

The Times Reader 2.0 is a slick product with an advertising and freemium business model. The tool offers some sections for free, like the front page, while charging $14.95 a month for access to others. John Biggs from Techcrunch is thinking about making the switch to all digital from paper delivery which is costing him $40 a month in Brooklyn. I’m curious as to how many people will put up with a seperate app dedicated to news sitting next to their web browser and e-mail client. And how many will be willing to shell out $15 a month for the same content that is already available for free on their website.

I think this is the first step to the New York Times setting up a pay wall like the Wall Street Journal. Unlike the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times looks to be pushing a monthly fee over a micro-payment business model which will ultimately fail.

The other interesting idea involved the Research and Development group at the newspaper. First off, the fact that a large media company has a R&D group boggles my mind but it totally makes sense to tackle the new technology that will be shaping their business in the coming years head on. Second, the New York Times is very interested in making their content work on the slew of portable media devices that are popping up everywhere like netbooks, the Kindle, and mobile phones. The video below taken by the Nieman Journalism Lab shows how they’re experimenting with e-ink readers and figuring out how their content will work on devices that aren’t even invented yet.

The future of media is not a single medium with one or two supporting business models, but one with many outlets tailored to different devices with just as many different ways to monetize it. The New York Times is building the infrastructure to handle this, it’s the smaller news outlets that are going to have a tough time adopting to this new, fragmented world.

Multifarious Design Links

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and not a lot of blog-idea-generating lately. So here are some of the best stories I’ve stumbled across during the last couple of days.

ESPN to De-Clutter With New Redesign – “Instead of inundating visitors with its intense coverage of every major sport from the get-go — something that the company now believes can drive away certain fans — is moving in a less-is-more direction, at least on the home page.”

ESPN is simplifying it's homepage in an effort to grow it's brand.

Consumer Reports identifies the Top 5 Smartphones – The Black Jack II came out on top, followed by the T-Mobile Wing, Motorola Q9C, T-Mobile Shadow, and BlackBerry Pearl Flip. The iPhone 3G and T-Mobile G1 tied. Verizon was ranked the best carrier followed by T-Mobile. Sprint was last in most markets. T-Mobile still doesn’t have any 3G phones worth getting excited about.

Rated best smartphone by Consumer Reports.

Last week was Web Design Week at – Two of my favorite articles were Five Looks, One Layout and How a Simple Layout Can Be Mixed ‘n’ Matched with Patterns, Photos and Backgrounds. Both cover how to transform the message of a single layout using different colors and styles. This is a great step by step resource for the design impaired like myself.

Web Design Week

Speaking of the design impaired…
Smashing Magazine has put together the Ultimate Collection of Custom Photoshop Shapes – If you can’t draw, custom Photoshop shapes become invaluable.

Custom Photoshop Brushes

Screenshots Of News Sites On Election Night

It’s not everyday that a single news event makes the homepage of every single news site across the globe at the same time. But the U.S. election results did just that. Many news sites experienced record-breaking numbers including which served 276 million pageviews to 27 million unique visitors on Tuesday. Akamai, the content delivery network for most of the top news sites, reported a peak of 8,572,042 visitors per minute around 11pm last night. Hitwise compiled the traffic stats for the top 24 news sites from yesterday.

Shortly after Barack Obama was declared the projected winner, I started taking full-page screenshots of the homepages from as many news sites that I could think of. I did this to partly study the designs and partly to preserve the historic night. You can download the complete collection of screengrabs in a complete 50MB zip.

Below is a collage of screenshots of the homepages from 24 major news outlets just after Barack Obama was announced as the winner. Clicking the picture links to a bigger version on Flickr.

Election Night News Site Homepage Collage