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Feb. 18, 2014, 11:30 a.m.
LINK: www.niemanlab.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   February 18, 2014

Over at the Riptide blog, Martin Nisenholtz has a post lauding and pointing to Jonathan Glick’s piece for Recode promoting the idea of a “platisher.”

(Still can’t get past that name.)

A platisher, Glick says, is “something in between a publisher and a platform — something that weaves together the strengths of both.” (Examples include Gawker, BuzzFeed, and Medium, all of which combine an open publishing platform for anyone to use with staff-produced or staff-edited material.) Martin:

Interesting, in Glick’s analysis, not a single legacy media company is mentioned. No one. Is this an oversight? After all, companies like The New York Times Company now have hundreds of developers. Lots of interesting tech projects are in the works. Can publishers like The Times become platishers? Should they?

Glick replies in the comments:

You asked if the NYT is a platisher or could or should become one.

Now, to back up, my definition of a platisher is either

a) a publisher who broadly opens up their publishing system to outsiders (celebrities, intellectuals, politicians, other publishers, or brands) to directly create first-order content objects. (By first-order, I mean not just subordinate content objects, like message board comments, but full content, on the same level as the publisher’s own.)

or

b) an open platform who employs or otherwise funds editors, curators, writers and other creators to make content for their platform.

I say ‘either’ because I consider both of these to be essentially the same thing, and facing the same challenges. And it is to address those challenges that I came up with this silly word in the first place…

Now, on the question of The New York Times:

By the definition above, The NYT is certainly *not* a platisher today despite its investment in a world-class engineering and design organization.

A recent and salient proof for this can be found in the controversy over whether the Times should have published Dylan Farrow’s and then Woody Allen’s (I don’t know what to call them) letters (columns? posts?).

A platisher, like Sulia or Gawker-Kinja or Buzzfeed or Medium, would have been thrilled to have either of them posting on our platforms. For The New York Times, on the other hand, the idea of publishing content that the NYT’s careful editorial process has not thoroughly examined is terrifying.

And that, I suppose, is my answer to the question about whether the NYT could or should be a platisher. Which is: Boy, it would be extremely hard.

The Dylan/Woody affair proves that high-profile people — and I didn’t even mention Mr. Putin — would be delighted to post within the pages of the NYT. So it certainly has the opportunity to pivot this way if that’s what Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Thompson decide. But it seems to me the soul of the Times lies in very different virtues.

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