Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Gimlet wants to become the “HBO of podcasting” — here’s what its founder’s learned trying to get there
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
April 20, 2009, 3:37 p.m.

New York Times wins Pulitzer for Spitzer coverage that evolved online

Back in the day — you know, five years ago — when a big news story had been written, edited, fact-checked, vetted, proofread, and anguished over one last time, an adrenaline-pumped editor would cry out, “Run it!” As in, the presses.

When The New York Times was ready to report that Eliot Spitzer, then governor of New York, had been implicated in a prostitution ring, managing editor Jill Abramson yelled 20 feet across the newsroom, “O.K., hit it!” As in, the button to publish the story on NYTimes.com.

The Times’ coverage of Spitzer, which just won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news, hit the web shortly after 2 p.m. on March 10, 2008. (Two minutes later, I instant-messaged a friend with a link to the article: “SPITZER HUH?!?!?!?!”)

Releasing the news in the middle of the afternoon meant the Times couldn’t control the story, but they certainly owned it, instantly becoming the go-to source for reliable Spitzer news. The Times website crashed several times that day before the servers were rejiggered to handle the crush of traffic.

The Times’ lede and headline initially reported, somewhat obliquely, that Spitzer had been “linked to a prostitution ring.” As two editors later explained, they added details about the precise nature of Spitzer’s “link” to prostitution as more reporting was conducted over the afternoon. Obsessive readers, of which there were millions, could watch the story evolve on the Times website — almost as good as actually being there to hear Abramson yell, “hit it!” That sort of transparent rewrite is why the Times’ Spitzer coverage, though lacking in multimedia bells and whistles, should be considered an online-native story.

POSTED     April 20, 2009, 3:37 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Gimlet wants to become the “HBO of podcasting” — here’s what its founder’s learned trying to get there
Alex Blumberg, CEO and co-founder of Gimlet Media: “People who like public radio like podcasts, but people outside of public radio also like podcasts. So let’s find those people.”
Can Campbell Brown’s education news site walk the advocacy–journalism tightrope?
The new venture, cofounded by the former CNN and NBC News anchor, is not ashamed about having an agenda. One key part of its toolkit: using video to create a “Waiting for Superman”-like impact on the discussion around education.
Trouble in paradise? How the struggles of two Hawaiian paywalls reflect larger industry trends
The Honolulu Civil Beat and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser both introduced paywalls a couple of years ago. Now their strategies are showing signs of stagnation.
What to read next
1119
tweets
New Pew data: More Americans are getting news on Facebook and Twitter
A new study from the Pew Research Center and Knight Foundation finds that more Americans of all ages, races, genders, education levels, and incomes are using Twitter and Facebook to consume news.
534Putting the public into public media membership
Getting beyond tote bags and pledge drives is critical to the sustainability of public media. Is there an alternative vision of membership that relies on relationships more than money?
513How Upworthy is using data to move beyond clickbait and curation
After hiring Amy O’Leary from The New York Times, the site has started using user data to inform its original content production.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Semana
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Windy Citizen
NewsTilt
Storify
Animal Político
IRE/NICAR
Bayosphere
New York
Instapaper
Los Angeles Times
The Ann Arbor Chronicle