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Oct. 12, 2016, 11:05 a.m.
Business Models

Goodbye, International New York Times; hello, international edition of The New York Times

A shift in name (and in geotargeting on digital) is the latest step in the Times’ efforts to build a stronger paying audience outside the United States.

As of yesterday, there was something called the International New York Times.

As of this morning, though, there is only The New York Times: International Edition:

Like any new news brand, they launched with their strongest material: cats.

(j/k)

On one hand, it’s just a name change, at a property that has seen its share of them. Until three years ago, it was the International Herald Tribune; before that it was the IHT but under joint ownership of both the Times and The Washington Post; before that, as Jean Seberg fans well know, it was the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune. (And before that the Paris Herald Tribune, and before that the Paris Herald. Newspapers have been around a while.)

But the Times is positioning the change within the larger context of its expansion into global markets:

The New York Times Company today introduced The New York Times International Edition, a redesigned, improved and more relevant print newspaper and refreshed digital web experience for our audience outside of the United States.

The New York Times International Edition features more international news, an increased focus on deep, analytical reporting, enterprise stories and a broader selection of coverage from The Times including culture, technology, travel and other topics relevant to international audiences.

Highlights of The New York Times International Edition include will feature coverage intended specifically for a global audience, similar to Declan Walsh’s Abroad In America series covering the American elections, from a non-American perspective, as well as more Opinion pieces from a variety of global voices.

For the first time, The New York Times International Edition will feature Opinion pieces on the front page.

This fits in well with the Times’ broader shifts over the past half decade toward concentrating on a single product — the Times — and shedding or merging other properties (The Boston Globe, About.com, the IHT, etc.)

The digital shifts are significant too. No longer will there be a single, separate “global” Times homepage (inyt.com or international.nytimes.com) for non-U.S. readers. Instead, all readers will now be directed to the main NYTimes.com site — but the paper promises some degree of geotargeted personalization, so readers in Asia might see a different story mix than readers in Europe (or the U.S.):

The refreshed online experience features one destination for all digital readers of The New York Times: nytimes.com. Site editions are arranged by language (English, Chinese and Spanish). Traffic from inyt.com redirects to nytimes.com.

This redesign allows The Times the ability to offer a more personalized experience based on the location of a particular reader. The morning briefing will soon be featured prominently on top of nytimes.com and will be time-zone sensitive, providing relevant information for readers in Europe and Asia.

In a letter to readers, publisher Arthur Sulzberger promises there is “much more to come on this front” of geotargeting.

Ben Fenton and Edelman were apparently involved:

The Times has gone through a number of iterations in its global strategy over the years; its most recent moves have included expanded investments in covering Canada and Australia and the Spanish-language NYT en Español, both under the rubric of NYT Global. (Switching from a binary U.S./international homepage setup to something more geotargeted should make it easier for, say, Australians to see a more Aussie-heavy mix of Times stories. One could imagine further targeted resource investments in, say, the U.K. being handled the same way.)

While the Times has seen great success with its digital paywall model — with over 1.2 million paying digital subscribers — at some point, it’ll saturate the potential paying audience in the United States, which is why seeking international growth makes sense. But there are questions about the degree to which the outside world wants a U.S.-centered perspective on things. Or, more accurately, the degree to which they want to pay for one when CNN and plenty of American digital outlets offer it up for free. Some smart people with transnational media experience — including Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith and Condé Nast’s Wolfgang Blau — had some thoughts on the scale of that opportunity on Twitter this morning, to which Lydia Polgreen, editorial director of NYT Global, responded.

That New York-vs.-global tension is something I’m sure will inform strategy going forward, along with informing cranky complaints from readers:

POSTED     Oct. 12, 2016, 11:05 a.m.
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