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Meet the new boss: Jill Abramson’s NYT ascent and its potential impact on the digital side of the Times

The New York Times will have a new leader in the newsroom. Jill Abramson will replace Bill Keller, who is moving to a writing job at the paper.

I’m sure Times Kremlinologists are already developing their theories about the move and its timing — let the #______MakesYouStupid jokes begin — but from our perspective, we’re most interested in the impact the new leadership will have on the Times’ digital strategy. Keller’s eight years in the top job have witnessed the complete disruption of the traditional business model for American newspapers, but the Times’ brand equity, market positioning, and quality have all given it a major advantage over its peers.

The Times has invested heavily in digital initiatives in the Keller era — I don’t have numbers to back this up, but I suspect their investment has been greater than any other American news organization. But that makes sense, since the Times has more to gain from the web’s easy distribution model than any other newspaper whose content is more tied to geography. The Times has national and global appeal, and fits perfectly with a medium that lets Times journalism reach that broad audience. From its large digital news operation to its massive adoption of blogs to its R&D Lab, the Keller era leaves the Times about as well positioned for a webby future as any of its peers.

A pro-digital mindset has never been unanimous among Times leadership, which has obvious and deep roots in print culture. The recent hubbub over Keller’s Twitter column was only the most recent iteration of the internal conflict. Maybe you remember two years ago, when a few Times reporters livetweeted a Times digital staff meeting, which led to a backlash from editors and other staffers?

Well, today, the announcement of Abramson’s ascent was semi-livetweeted by @nytimes, the newspaper’s recently humanized 3.2 million-follower Twitter account — Instagram photos and all.

We can only guess what Jill Abramson’s promotion will mean for the Times’ digital strategy — but to the extent that she’s carved out an outward-facing identity on the subject, it’s been notably pro-web. It was Abramson who took time away from her editing gig last year to immerse herself in the Times’ digital operations, which Keller said was Abramson’s initiative. (That move began on June 1, one year ago yesterday, and was supposed to last six months. The Times press release on the move quotes Arthur Sulzberger as saying: “Over the past year, she has immersed herself in our digital strategy and led the effort to fully integrate the newsroom.” So it would seem elements of the immersion lived on past the six-month span.)

Last fall, Abramson told New York she wanted to build incentives for staffers to become more web-oriented. “When you have a front-page story,” she said, “everyone is like, ‘Wow, great story!’ I’d like to get to a place where the celebration when something goes on the home page is as pronounced.”

Jennifer Preston, former Times social media editor, chimed in after today’s announcement: “For all of you wondering about Jill Abramson and the Web? Jill gets it. And she’s fearless. We’re lucky.” She added “Jill has always been highly supportive of our real-time Twitter publishing/curation efforts.”

And for those looking for more tea leaves to read, check out Abramson’s two most recent Talk to the Newsroom features, both from 2009, where she hits on some webby subjects. You won’t find much revelatory — no secret web strategies lying in wait for the right moment. Like the Times’ staff, we’ll all have to wait and see how she shapes the Times’ digital transformation.

                                   
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Mark Coddington    July 18, 2014
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  • http://twitter.com/lalorek lalorek

    Why don’t you mention that she’s the first woman to head up the New York Times in its 160 year history? That’s a tremendously important milestone for female journalists that deserves its own story. After all, women at the New York Times had to sue to get into positions of power. Remember that? Check out Nan Robertson’s book, The Girls in the Balcony.

  • Mike Maynard

    Newspapers have changed. They are going on-line and have to bring news, use SEO, attract advertising and entertain; they have to be all thing to all men (and women). The New York Times is more progressive than most but the upstarts like the HuffPost are taking over. 

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WR5ABG2ZA65BDGLB2TU2JMPSB4 WhoIsObama

    Has investigative journalism died?

    I wasn’t sure where to post this, it’s of critical importance though that intelligent people read this and understands it. The future for America is in jeopardy. Whether you’re motivated to become a highly paid journalist, make a name for yourself, or become a part of history, in order to live in a free democratic society, I urge you to read this, draw your own conclusions, and share it with the world.

    My name is Aaron Fleszar, you don’t know me, but the story I want to share with you is 100% true. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Whether you believe me or not, I ask that you read this all the way through, because there’s plenty to research and form your own opinion.

    In March of 2008 I cracked a code online that is written across thousands of websites. These websites are selling every money making opportunity you can think of, from mystery shopping, to paid surveys, to every aspect of affiliate marketing and affiliate marketing education. By making fun of a group of scam artists, I discovered that this group is enormous, highly sophisticated, and positioned to make billions by destroying the US economy. They are Al-Qaeda.

    When I first cracked this code I reported it to the FBI. A number of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists make up this code. For example, Wanted Seif al-Adel is claiming to be Mark Joyner and Noordin M Top is claiming to be Armand Morin wanted for the financing of Al-Qaeda. The code is made up of aliases with some political overtones, look a likes of CEO’s, and media moguls. It’s sophisticated, it’s dynamic, and if there was anything remotely easy about breaking it, the feds would have done it long before me.

    Without going into great detail and allowing you to follow up on the code itself, I’ll share with you what I got out of it. A great deal of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists make up this code. This means whoever these people are, they must not be “on the run” and acting alone, but rather have always been part of this organization. This organization, Al-Qaeda online, appears to have run the last presidential election on the most highly ranked site in Google search, Youtube. Now I never thought anything about Obama, but it appears that Osama Bin Laden, much like these “internet marketing experts” who are terrorists, may have only been a spokesperson. It also appears that Osama’s name is a code and that Osama represents Obama and Biden (Bi)n La(den). It sounds ridiculous, but these people have been putting this code together for decades.

    9/11 itself was an intelligence failure of epic proportions. It appears that the events of 9/11 were a stepping stone to a much larger plan. That plan appears to be to overthrow the US government. I believe the attacks on 9/11 were symbolic to an attack on capitalism, our foundation. I believe that the FBI had a similar theory about Obama, given his background with radicals such as Bill Ayers, and radical preachers. I’m sure they also thought Osama Bin Laden could be a code, and that the most wanted terrorists having connections to US embassy bombings in Kenya and Indonesia was more than a freak coincidence for Obama to have a background with both areas as well. This code online connects the dots between everyone’s theories.

    It appears that a coup has taken place. Since Obama got elected, it appears unelected officials in Washington are using him to flush out the remaining members of the “New World Order” plot. After being tortured for over 3 years now, denied speaking with anyone in government, denied an attorney, denied a lawsuit in federal court, not to mention a million other things, I’ve been able to deduce quite a bit. The feds have also slowly taken over the media over the last several years.

    The feds are creating the stories, the headlines, they’ve recruited writers and moderators, and are doing everything they can to control the rate at which this information leaks out. They are trying to get everyone to focus on the 2012 election while discrediting the media. The only people left on this earth who can spread the truth are bloggers who understands the importance of this story and their first amendment rights.

    In attempting to release this story a month ago, the government took a preemptive strike by releasing Obama’s birth certificate, then a few days later, fabricated the story about killing Osama Bin Laden. Several major news sites are not allowing new registrations, comments are being deleted, and many un-moderated sites are now moderated. If they cannot delete a comment that starts to get attention, they’ll pull the link to the story from the main page on the site, this has happened repeatedly at Yahoo and The Huffington Post. The feds had ample time before the election to take down the biggest players, which would have created enough chatter publicly to take down any remaining threat. They decided that justice isn’t served in a court of law. The feds are covering up this story and confusing national security with job security. If you don’t want to live in a totalitarian regime operated by unelected officials turning elected officials in puppets, expose this story.

    Thank you,
    Aaron Fleszar

    http://illuminaticonspiracy.blogspot.com

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