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NYT Publisher Says Not Focusing on Engineering Was A Serious Mistake

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the programmers-make-the-world-go-round dept.

The Media 148

curtwoodward writes "You'd have a hard time picking just one way the traditional news business stumbled into the Internet era. But America's most important newspaper publisher says one mistake sticks out. In a recent discussion at Harvard, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. of the New York Times said newspapers really messed up by not having enough engineers on hand 'building the tools that we're now using.' Instead, the the news business faces a world where outsiders like Facebook and Twitter control the technology that is distributing their work." Or maybe those outsiders are just better.

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Private entetise controlling speech (1, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#44882615)

All of this is very dangerous trend, where public and private entities (corporations) control majority of our speech. How can one exercise freedom of speech when in 21st century nearly all speech is digital, over this or that walled garden?

We have Net Neutrality protecting data transmission, where is our Digital Speech Neutrality?

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44882737)

The flaw in your reasoning here is that you are assuming two fallacies are true.

First, that people single-source their information. Even a given individual gets most of their news from the AP, for example, it doesn't mean they chose the AP. Perhaps they were linked most frequently to these articles. A method by which they probably are exposed to a great number of other information sources, but with the AP getting the most exposure for that individual.

Second, that the companies actually control the content that most people see. Facebook, for example, may be disturbingly Big Brotheresque in their policies, but their degree of censorship consists primarily of punishing breastfeeding mothers who post photos and deleting fan pages for Social Fixer, while allowing basically everything else but hardcore sex.

If you want more freedom of speech than the corporate providers are willing to provide, get your own server and promote it. Even in the days of Geocities, there were certain controls on your use of that space, and the alternative of running your own server has always been the primary way to ensure the freest of speech.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44882835)

People do not single source their information, which is absolutely true, but that misses the point. The point is that corporate information yells though a stack of a million amp PA speakers as compared to personal speech which is the equivalent of a whisper. If you say money is equal to speech you have to admit that some people get way more speech than others. Getting rid of net neutrality makes the problem 10 times worse because then you *can't* set up your own server and expect it to reach everyone. Setting up a linux server to serve yourself is not equal to a server room with 1000 servers... that's just a false equivalency.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44883457)

This is the same old argument people always had about free speech and the radio. Why would the radio sensor music on their station? Doesn't the artist have free speech rights? Well yes... but someone owns that radio station and they have free speech rights to. You can't infringe on one groups rights to promote anothers. The constitution guarantees you freedom of speech, it does not guarantee you a soap box from which to speak it.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44883819)

Exactly my point. And these days, the market is more open than you'd think for new soapboxes, thanks to technology which frees us to publish to anyone in the world...if they care to come listen.

I think the real trick is to get people to actually want to hear what you are saying. If PSY's "Gangnam Style" can take the world by storm, it's not too farfetched to believe that a message people want to show their friends can do the same. If you have to get people to listen by delivering your message in an elevator lying beneath a pelvic thrusting "lewd dance" or while having a dance-off with a guy in a cheesy yellow suit, so be it.

Most people on soap-boxes have no idea how to sell their ideas, even if they're amazing ideas.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#44884719)

Then your interpretation of the constitution leads to unrealized and hollow right. How are you going to realize your right when means of communication are censorious?

A car analogy: You buy a car, but it turns out that all roads around your house are private. Owners decide not to let you drive on their property. Sure, you can still get into your car and legally drive it to the end of your driveway, but you no longer have a way to legally use your car.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883495)

So? You have freedom of speech - not freedom to be equal heard.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884717)

People do not single source their information, which is absolutely true, but that misses the point. The point is that corporate information yells though a stack of a million amp PA speakers as compared to personal speech which is the equivalent of a whisper. If you say money is equal to speech you have to admit that some people get way more speech than others. Getting rid of net neutrality makes the problem 10 times worse because then you *can't* set up your own server and expect it to reach everyone. Setting up a linux server to serve yourself is not equal to a server room with 1000 servers... that's just a false equivalency.

The same could be said about everything since the printing press, but communication between poor people has arguably improved since its invention. You now know exactly how many of your friends dislike Politician XYZ and for what reasons - much more information than you got from friends in the 80's or 90's.

I agree that getting rid of net neutrality makes things worse. But if we're counting things that will happen in the future, then I think mesh networks will help reduce these information bottlenecks a great deal. Right now it's a solution waiting for a its problem, since we can still get faster uncensored internet through centralized networks. Even without an immediate technical solution, news is very low-bandwidth so a lack of net neutrality (short of outright censorship) wouldn't even be noticeable at first.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44882931)

Lots of people are proud that they only get their news from the New York Times or NPR. They won't listen to any other sources because they won't believe anything that doesn't reconfirm their already-held beliefs.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883173)

I would argue the type of person reading the NYT or listening to NPR are the type who are more likely to invest their time in gaining news and information from multiple sources. The mono-sourced type of people are more typically the type who watch Fox News and listen to Limbaugh.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884071)

Says the person who gets their information from BOTH New York Times AND NPR.

How appropriately trollish.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883027)

"First, that people single-source their information."

You keep forgetting that online sources get their info from PR regarding products from advertisers and corporations to make money. Not to mention if you believe 'reddit' is the future of news, then the future of news looks like everyone just taking their ball in their own court (i.e. create their own subreddit around their own worldview).

A sizable chunk of the population DOES single source their information. In fact if you've frequented many entertainment news sites you'll notice that every site becomes very similar, very quickly, they converge on saying the same things.

Let's say no one single sources their information, you still have the problem of a sizable chunk of the general population not able to think critically about much at all because it requires time, effort, intelligence and energy. People tend to do what requires the least energy. Thinking clearly is hard.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883357)

If you want more freedom of speech than the corporate providers are willing to provide, get your own server and promote it.

The problem with censorship is that you may not know it's censored. Knowledge of censorship requires an uncensored source of information with which to compare. Free market fanatics always seem to forget that the market only functions correctly when consumers have access to all of the information required to make an informed choice. Without a way to force private news distributors to disclose any and all censorship, there is no hope of the market for news functioning correctly.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44883739)

Wait, the market for news? That's not a market anymore. It's a genre.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883437)

If you want more freedom of speech than the corporate providers are willing to provide, get your own server and promote it

Of course, the fallacy in this is that your ISP will tolerate a server on their network at a price you can afford.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44883877)

That's one theory, but in practice, when you start small, they won't even pay attention to what you're serving up. And if it does well in the marketplace of ideas (and if you can get people to actually pay attention to your ideas and hopefully tell a few friends), then hopefully you can also find a way to increase what you can "afford".

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#44884681)

Marketplace of ideas is intellectually bankrupt idea when you take it this literally. It meant to be a concept that approximates flow of information on a sufficiently large scale, not a specific message or idea.

Even then it is somewhat flawed, it assumes that masses are rational and it assumes that everyone has perfect access to the information. Both of these assumptions are demonstrably untrue.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882899)

Simple, the rise of the blogosphere. This is why Feinstein and her ilk are trying to define who will be considered journalists. Today, it's a shield law. Once the precedent that those not employed by the MSM are not journalists, statutes, and regulations restricting who can publish will be enacted. Now that the cost of publishing writings is so low, the legal system will be used to raise the costs of entry to the market.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about a year ago | (#44884173)

If The People in the second admendment only applies to govt recognized groups then shouldn't The People in the first equally apply to just govt recognized groups?

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882913)

And how was it really any different when everything was analog?

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year ago | (#44883395)

Only if you reduce the internet to facebook and twitter. Hook up your own webserver to the net. Public speech was never controlled *less* than today.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#44884619)

>>>Hook up your own webserver to the net.

This is not a feasible solution, unless you also suggest that "hook up your own web server" is part of grade school education. With something as important as Free Speech you need to give access to it to everyone, and that includes troglodyte science denialist that is also very likely a 12:00 flasher. Even if we ignore this very important aspect, there is still a question of projection and audience. How many people will be accessing your blog vs. how many people are accessing social media? If you want to get the message out, "your own web server" is about the worst way to do it. Even if you succeed at getting the message out, doing so will probably crash it and/or bankrupt you with bandwidth bills.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about a year ago | (#44883507)

How can one exercise freedom of speech when in 21st century nearly all speech is digital, over this or that walled garden?

You had to exercise your freedom to put yourself into the walled garden. By default, everyone's speech starts out free and they do things to put limitations on themselves. Don't do that. Or reverse your earlier decision to stop being free.

Even if you're required to use Facebook for work or something like that, it's not like anybody makes you use Facebook for your own actual speech.

It takes a lot of work and inconvenience to keep yourself from being free. Just don't go to all that extra trouble, and you ought to be fine.

Re:Private entetise controlling speech (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#44883555)

In the beginning, the internet was open, and federated. You could send e-mail from any server, even one you built yourself.
If somebody said: let's run our e-mail from one server, and make everybody's addresses end in "@bigcorp.com", then that person would have been called insane.

Now, when you want to share something, you are socially obliged to use things like facebook and twitter.

It is not a dangerous trend. The internet is actually where we don't want it to be, to begin with.
The protocols should be open and services should work in a federated way. Just like the internet was intended. Then we would not have this whole problem.

Yeah, they dropped the ball (4, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#44882619)

And they still haven't figured it out, which is why many of them are sticking their content behind ineffective paywalls instead of building robust discussion communities.

These days, I surf to Google News and generally click on the first link that doesn't seem to have a video on it. I read so much faster than I could watch a video that as soon as I see one, I hit backspace instantly. (Also since I'm usually at work with mute on and very few of them have proper closed captioning on their videos!)

Re:Yeah, they dropped the ball (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about a year ago | (#44882975)

Oops, you mis-spelled "effective" as "ineffective". That little mistake sort of changes your thesis.

Re:Yeah, they dropped the ball (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#44883405)

Hah, nope. There's a pretty simple browser hack in place to get around the NYT paywall.

Re:Yeah, they dropped the ball (2)

CauseBy (3029989) | about a year ago | (#44883963)

It's "effective" because it sufficed to induce people to subscribe [paidcontent.org] to the website -- your freeloading notwithstanding. You know, in the 1990s some people took newspapers out of trash cans and read them, too, so you're not the first person to cheat around the "paywall", and the standard of "effective" is lower than 100%.

Re:Yeah, they dropped the ball (3, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year ago | (#44883283)

How do you pay for serious investigative journalism, something I think that we are seriously lacking and suffering from, if you can't pay for your journalists? You cannot expect the masses to read lengthy and detailed reports on Syria, NSA, etc. and those things cost real money to investigate. Those guys are off watching Miley shake her ass, and honestly those stories are cheap to produce and highly profitable (and frequently just video clips from where miley last shaked her ass, no work at all!).

It's always been for the more discerning types to read the paper, understand it, and start shouting out loud (i.e. subscribers). This in turn sells the papers to casual observers who are skeptical but scared enough to verify. But the paywall doesn't do that, people see the paywall and run elsewhere and either get puddle deep, misinformed or even outright misleading coverage from fox/cnn/msnbc and content themselves with drivel. Further, because the content is online on someone's server, and there's no hard copy, it feels frequently as if the story changes every time you read it. (And on some websites, it DOES!).

The paywall needs to be fast and easy, one click shopping. Buy the story, receive an epub (that you can view in the web browser). Allow libraries to archive the epub and loan out a copy at a time, etc. I agree, stop with the goddamn video, words are far more searchable and faster to consume. What we want is actual journalism. But it has to be paid for (and worth paying for), ad revenue alone won't cut it with all the distraction out there.

Re:Yeah, they dropped the ball (3, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#44883451)

I don't disagree, and I do in fact pay subscriptions to a few websites that offer them. In exchange, those websites offer some perks to paid subscribers (one of them shuts off all advertisements.) I've turned off Ad-Block on sites that are careful about not having overly annoying ads as well.

The perk of "seeing content at all" is not enough to convince many folks to pay directly for it.

Re:Yeah, they dropped the ball (1)

Jahta (1141213) | about a year ago | (#44883937)

I agree that good investigative journalism is vital to our societies, and needs to be done by adequately funded professional journalists.

But there's a problem. Many news organisations largely gave up on this kind of journalism years ago. As is well covered in Flat Earth News [amazon.com] many settle for just parroting generic stories from the wire services. This is why, for example, you often see the same stories (and even verbatim text) across multiple news outlets.

they lost control of their revenue sources (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44882633)

used to be if you wanted to advertise in NYC, you did it in the NY Times. everything from a home to a car to a job. now someone else owns the platforms for advertising

but then again, the NY Times was always a snobby paper that turned its nose on anything the staff believed was below them.

No, he's wrong (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882653)

A top newspaper like the NYT is all about the newsroom culture where the reporters are the heroes. IT is backroom in that environment. A big investment in IT would've been wasted because it would've been almost impossible to manage an innovation culture almost completely separate from the main mission of the company.

What they need to do is partner with IT companies in that space. Choose a small cap partner that will give them a stake, don't just rely on FB or Amazon or whatever.

Re:No, he's wrong (5, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44882781)

I've worked at a major newspaper. Reporters HATE technical people. That's one of the reasons tech reporting so bad... they won't even TALK to a tech person in most cases.

That culture hates (and can be very denigrating) to all people that are not reporters. Just getting an online presence itself very controversial at first.

The fact that most newspapers faltered is not a surprise and is based on their culture. They are going to have to actually embrace people of other skill sets if they can compete at all, and that's a cultural changing going right down to how journalism is taught at journalism schools.

Re:No, he's wrong (5, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#44883123)

I've worked at a major newspaper. Reporters HATE technical people. That's one of the reasons tech reporting so bad... they won't even TALK to a tech person in most cases.

That culture hates (and can be very denigrating) to all people that are not reporters. Just getting an online presence itself very controversial at first.

The fact that most newspapers faltered is not a surprise and is based on their culture. They are going to have to actually embrace people of other skill sets if they can compete at all, and that's a cultural changing going right down to how journalism is taught at journalism schools.

I can vouch for this in the overall news world, and not just in newspapers. Long, long ago during the early days of the Web, before the dot-com boom, I worked at the Associated Press. The head of the entire AP had, as canon, a prohibition on embracing the Internet because he didn't want to do anything that supported it. He saw it not as an alternative source of distribution but as a competitor, and considered even looking into engaging on it as a way of fomenting competition against the AP's core business. His views were not exactly radical among the business of journalism at large, either; trade magazines either categorized it as a problem (if they were ironically visionary) or ignored it altogether.

Re:No, he's wrong (4, Informative)

Ken D (100098) | about a year ago | (#44883661)

For the AP that was probably true (that the Internet was a deadly competitor). The AP represents one of the major things that is wrong with the newspaper business.

You look at a print version of some newspapers and it's filled with cusinarted AP articles. They've been butchered to fill empty column space. The newspaper that I actually read cover to cover has zero (0) AP articles in it.

Re:No, he's wrong (1)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#44884807)

For the AP that was probably true (that the Internet was a deadly competitor). The AP represents one of the major things that is wrong with the newspaper business.

You look at a print version of some newspapers and it's filled with cusinarted AP articles. They've been butchered to fill empty column space. The newspaper that I actually read cover to cover has zero (0) AP articles in it.

I wouldn't know. I worked at AP Broadcast, which had nothing to do with newspapers :)

Re:No, he's wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883595)

I suspected this was the case.

One thing I have noticed is that in many industries, the established hierarchy resents technologists likely because they see the technologists as encroaching on their domain. I think this is one reason why it is so difficult for software workers to get domain knowledge in many industries. The people who know the domain build walls to protect their empires from automation and potential loss of control (and their jobs).

This stonewalling works until it doesn't and some outside company is able to introduce a new technology into the domain and destroy the dinosaur's monopoly. This has already happened with Kodak as it has happened to newspapers and other media.

Re:No, he's wrong (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882851)

What they need to do is real reporting and less lying and shilling for the government. Stop being the old man and blaming technology. The product is crap and no ones wants it anymore.

read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882739)

"We didn't want to hire any of those 'computer geeks' to do our jobs. We know news because we make it!"

Just yet another old business who forgot that things change. And now they are largely irrevelant. And don't like it much.

Why would they hire engineers? (0)

Nova Express (100383) | about a year ago | (#44882741)

They wouldn't fit in the culture of insular, ultra-liberal, upper class Manhattanites that define The New York Times.

Indeed, the only attribute that engineers as a group share with NYT staffers is that they're both extremely white.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882833)

Yes, engineers are generally results oriented, so they support free markets, and self regulation. Both of these are anathema to leftists. There is also the envy felt by liberal arts types toward those who easily master technologies.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44882879)

I think you are making a huge mistake here.
Yes they are results oriented, but sometimes the best results are not found in the free market. For example we pay more than other first world nations for healthcare and get less of it. Clearly not a good result. The same thing with cell phones, our lack of regulation is preventing a good result.

You are confusing fact based and result oriented with a fear of change or being able to adopt new ideas.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (-1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#44882955)

For example we pay more than other first world nations for healthcare and get less of it.

Yes, and the President and his party is now forcing everyone to pay, whether they want to or not, whether they can or not, which now creates a larger financial burden for the very people he claims he was trying to help.

So explain how making me pay more helps me?

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44883009)

You realize you were paying this already right?

The moment we gave everyone care via the ER by law we decided this was the way to do healthcare in the USA. The hospital covers their losses on people who do not pay by charging higher prices for those who do.

People who cannot afford it would qualify for low income plans. I am not sure why you oppose personal responsibility. Just like car insurance, we all know the time will come you will need it and if you don't have it you will force everyone else to pay for you.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (0)

digsbo (1292334) | about a year ago | (#44883247)

The moment we gave everyone care via the ER by law we

yet again reduced the freedom of the market, a trend that started during WWII when the government's salary cap laws caused the market for healthcare to be aligned with employment, since employers started using non-pay benefits to entice labor.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44883403)

Sure, but we have crossed that bridge.
Unless you think we can repeal that. I would love, but I would also insist on making a public system like medicare available to all americans.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883489)

The thing is, reduced freedom is a good thing in this instance. In fact, a monopoly (the government) with the interests of the people in mind, is a great thing in this situation. When there's only one buyer for the vast majority of all medical treatment, that buyer can run the table on all of the suppliers. With the current US health care system, the drugs companies can tell insurance companies "pay this much, or you don't get to use our drug", in a socialised system, the government can tell the drug companies "sell it to us for this much, or you don't get to supply us, and that means you don't get to supply anyone of any significance".

The bottom line in this is undeniable. The average amount paid for health care in other developed nations is 4 times lower than the amount paid in the US. The level of treatment is on average higher. I don't understand why so many americans fight against 4 times lower cost for better treatment.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | about a year ago | (#44883513)

And when the hospital no longer has to cover those losses, they will see more profit. Because they certainly won't reduce their prices.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44883551)

They would if they were competing.

Here is another problem with healthcare and the free market. It really can't function. This is because when you really need a hospital you are in no condition to select one. Even if the doctors are much worse your results might be better by going to a closer hospital simply because of the injury you suffer by delaying treatment.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#44883727)

Actually, the markets have self-corrected once again and far more people are going to urgent care centers than ERs for things that don't need ER care. Having a binary of "primary care physician" and "emergency care" was just asking people to pick the quick ER with expensive care over the cheaper but longer term doctor's appointment - where it could be days or weeks before your PCP could see you. The rise of the UC center and grocery store medical facilities has finally caused the ballooning healthcare costs to flatline this year. Many insurance companies also changed the UC copay to be closer to that of the PCP in an effort to encourage folks to choose that instead of ER.

In short, Americans are finally figuring out that a sinus infection, while something that does require prompt care, does not qualify as a traumatic injury and thus doesn't need a $2,000 visit to the ER. And our wonderful free market system has encouraged clinics to cater just to these people at a much lower price.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44883773)

The real savings are that the urgent care can deny care to those who lack insurance or the ability to pay upfront. I love the urgent care facilities, but they will only make the ER more crowded with those who cannot pay.

The free market solves the one problem well, the other not at all.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#44884251)

The hospital covers their losses on people who do not pay by charging higher prices for those who do.

So that means, with all the extra money flowing into the system, which will now be solely used to cover these previous losses, my bill will go down, right? That's what is supposed to happen, right?

Or is this about giving the health insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars in free money from people like me who don't need health services?

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44884309)

You plan to live forever with no maladies ever?
Care to share your secret?

Or do you mean right now, you don't need it and later you will simply leech by going to the ER?

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882895)

They wouldn't fit in the culture of insular, ultra-liberal, upper class Manhattanites that define The New York Times.

Engineer here who reads the NYT. They do a decent job with book reviews and they do more of their own legwork when it comes to reporting that 99% of newspapers that just roll over and re-print AFP/AP/Reuters. Of course, I also love Al-Jezeera for the same reason ...

Your assertion that they wouldn't hire engineers because engineers don't fit their target demographic is hilarious and, well, absurd. Do they let trash pileup because janitors and trash men don't read the NYT?

Indeed, the only attribute that engineers as a group share with NYT staffers is that they're both extremely white.

China, India & Brazil would like to talk with you ... so would the rising Latino communities in the US that are beginning to escape the "too poor for a basic computer" pigeonholing.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882901)

Is that what Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity told you?

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (1, Troll)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about a year ago | (#44882929)

Don't be such a troll. If the NYT was so liberal and leftie, explain its stenography for the Bush Admin., resulting in two undeclared wars with thousands of dead people in Iraq and Afghanistan financed with cooked off the books loans, and its support for the Bush led but Obama fulfilled idiocies re: the banking system, Guantanamo, and a host of other violations of common decency.

The answer is: You're a troll, Now go away. Troll.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#44883021)

But anything that doesn't worship at the altar of Ronald Reagan is clearly nothing but a leftist loon fest. Rush Limbaugh told me so.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883029)

As far as the Republicans and Libertarians are concerned, anything slightly to the Right of Center is Leftist.

If you aren't goose stepping to elimination of corporate regulation--esp banking regulation, public education, income tax, social security, minimum wage and the EPA, you are a leftist.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883159)

No, that's explained with crony capitalism. Given that their primary objective is to sell you to advertising, in that very small case, where "Brown people interfered with selling advertising by destroying the world trade towers outside their office window" they jumped on the easiest approach, which was to trivially mark up white house press releases. Remember that the truth is relevant to the media only in that it's often more convenient than fiction.

Re:Why would they hire engineers? (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#44884159)

Don't be such a troll. If the NYT was so liberal and leftie, explain its stenography for the Bush Admin., resulting in two undeclared wars with thousands of dead people in Iraq and Afghanistan financed with cooked off the books loans, and its support for the Bush led but Obama fulfilled idiocies re: the banking system, Guantanamo, and a host of other violations of common decency.

The answer is: They watched two building collapse, killing thousands of people, some of whom they knew.

ftfy

Re: Why would they hire engineers? (1)

techprophet (1281752) | about a year ago | (#44882997)

I think you're underestimating the number of Indian and Chinese engineers.

just desserts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882807)

for a whoring profession... i get a laugh out of journalism 'ethics' being taught in schools...

Just like grade school (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882813)

In elementary school, the smart kids get made fun of simply because they are smart. Then it continued into middle school. It wasn't until High School that they started to realize "Hey, the smart kids actually know the answers!".
You'd think by adulthood they'd have learned their lesson... Then again we are talking about an industry that, 20 years after the public was able to get news via computer and ~10 years after they were able to get news on their phone, only recently decided to ditch the paper.

Right tool, wrong managers (4, Insightful)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44882863)

No.

They could have had every engineer who wound up working for FaceTubeTwitSpace on the NYT staff in 1999 (assuming timewarp so they're not 12 at the time) and they would still have failed, because the management would never have listened to the engineers. Because the engineers would have said, "Hmmm, this business model is going to fail because of distributed peer-to-peer information and content delivery. We should build a peer-to-peer information and content delivery instead, cannibalize and eventually abandon print advertising."

Would. Not. Happen.

To complete the /. analogy, this would be like in 1890, an engineer at a buggy whip manufacturer saying "Yeah, we're making tons of money off buggy whips, but this won't last. We need to retool our leather workers to make steering wheel covers for these new automojiggers instead, or I guarantee, in a little over a hundred years, people on futuristic electrically connected typewriters will write each other personal letters in which they use our industry as an example of failed business processes!"

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882911)

Because the engineers would have said, "Hmmm, this business model is going to fail because of distributed peer-to-peer information and content delivery. We should build a peer-to-peer information and content delivery instead, cannibalize and eventually abandon print advertising."

Maybe a freetard "engineer" would have said that. A real engineer would not have.

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44882945)

What would a "real engineer" have said?

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883007)

Use a website not some convoluted system that you posited. News stories are precisely what HTML was designed for.

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883153)

Troll? Really? What exactly is trolling in the post?

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44883191)

You're right (and your troll mod is unfair). I miss communicated. When I said "distributed" and "peer to peer" I meant the acts of news gathering and creation. Facebook and twitter are not peer-to-peer networking utilities, either, but they are web services whereby peers create and distribute content to each other, and that's what the NYT wishes they invented.

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44884423)

The market is changing. We are going to have to market our whips to the BDSM community.

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#44882935)

Why would you distribute static news content through a peer-to-peer system over just using a web site? What exactly would the Times have gained by the former over the latter? Or were you thinking you'd sound really smart to the mouth breather crowd by throwing in a "distributed peer-to-peer" buzz phrase??

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year ago | (#44883167)

I meant the content itself would be provided by peers. As in, people are getting news from facebook and twitter, where the content is provided by distributed peers instead of a centralized newspaper, which is the manner whereby the NYT's lunch got ate.

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883329)

There is a market for news from actual professional journalists rather than some guy on twatter. NYT can fill (is filling) that market.

The people who are really screwed are the second- and third-string newspapers; your Baltimore Sun and Albany Times-Union and Buttfuck, Idaho Free Press and so forth.

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (3, Insightful)

spacepimp (664856) | about a year ago | (#44883309)

They failed precisely because they just used a website. The idea that content is king is a bit dated now. The gravity of NYT news alone was not enough to pull people to them. They needed to become the distributor of their content to keep it relevant in as many places as possible. While they were at it they should have used their gravity to help promote and engage others in conversation about the news, or allow others to provide news of their own. Just building a website throwing news on it and putting it behind a pay wall is exactly why they failed.
The point is the goal is to reach an audience same as it ever was, and all that NYT did was play a stubborn gate keeper that ensured their irrelevance by forcing people to go to their site, or pay for a paywall.

I will say it once more: Content isn't the goal, an audience is. Building walls around your garden and making it harder to reach only made people find simpler routes of access to the news that was reaching/finding them not the other way around.

Re:Right tool, wrong managers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883757)

I was in the newspaper industry and this is pretty much exactly what happened. The upper management watched and scoffed as things like ebay and craigslist whittled away their advertising and still said they can't hurt us.

No, no, no,no ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44882881)

No, that's not true

But more recent upstarts like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and many more have created Web and mobile platforms that offer useful, personalized ways of processing and delivering information.

That leaves the news establishment playing catch-up.

Twiiter, Facebook, Reddit, etc ... is for delivering individual's shit. The NYT is in a different league.

Instead of looking at how shit is delivered, why isn't he looking at (as far as I know) the Economist or the Wall Street Journal? Those guys have learned how to use the web with their traditional business and thrived. Or better yet, try something that no one else has done.

Re:No, no, no,no ... (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#44883755)

Funny enough, I still read the WSJ in print. My office keeps a subscription and puts it in the break room. Me and a few other folks share sections during lunch, or skim the headlines while waiting for coffee.

It's about liberty, stupid (1)

LF11 (18760) | about a year ago | (#44882919)

Hiring more engineers doesn't help when your fundamental business model is flawed. Generations in the past, newspapers used to be about freedom. Now, newspapers are about control. The Internet is about freedom. Adapt or perish.

Re:It's about liberty, stupid (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#44882987)

Very few newspapers were really about doing investigative journalism. Many newspapers in the "generations in the past" were spreaders of propaganda [wikipedia.org] and yellow journalism such as that propagated by such famous newsmen as William Randolph Hearst [wikipedia.org] .

Wrong question (1)

cardpuncher (713057) | about a year ago | (#44882965)

Newspapers really messed up by continuing to produce paper with yesterday's news on it. Newspapers were once a disruptive technical force - a combination of large-scale printing and national distribution by rail transformed the way people received information. But new disruptive technical forces have emerged. The only things that really kept papers going once radio and then television came along was broadcast regulation and the absence of any other outlet for low-cost advertising (radio and TV adverts being outside most peoples' price range).

The interesting question is whether you can have serious, in-depth, journalism without print - there's a reason Snowden went to the papers and not to a TV station - but you're not going to answer it with engineers.

Que The Yomiuri Shimbun formally The Daily Yomiuri (1)

NetNinja (469346) | about a year ago | (#44883001)

Now here was a paper who was forward thinking. Just like Japanese car makers never make excuses they just execute.
Japan knew the Internet was going to make a lot of content obsolete and so they started to release CD's of their news archives.
Shortly after that they started to produce an online version of their newspaper. WOW how novel!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yomiuri_Shimbun [wikipedia.org]

The NewYork Times failed to Execute now they will be Executed.

Sneering (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44883005)

The soft practitioners of social sciences frequently look down on the hard sciences. Why would an elite organization like the NYT hire engineers? Artists, designers, writers - yes, of course. An engineer? It would be like hiring a soldier or a rancher, a total non sequitur for the Times.

The problem isn't how to stay alive.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883037)

.. it's how you die..

Before, it was really hard to run a newspaper, and done mostly so that the printing infrastructure had something to do while not printing books.

Today you don't need the infrastructure. communication is both more local and more global, and newspapers are so big, that they desperately need to be i) popular and ii) alot-of-money making.

These ideals go against real journalism, and as now anyone with facebook can research and post; everything from commentaries, critiques or even news, we're getting real newsworthy content from such sources and not the old infrastructures who regurgitate popularist hype and adverts.

They are obsolete in their current form, may their demise not harm any new ventures that will develop in their stead.

This is idiocy (1)

sandbagger (654585) | about a year ago | (#44883089)

The skills nevermind conception of social media would have been as it is, to undo the newspapers and replace it... no functioning business model. The publisher is looking at the technology and saying 'We should have done that' and is looking at the impact but forgetting that the world view to create those social media technologies is a different skill set.

He should go have a long lunch with someone from the record industry.

I used to work in the web dept. at a paper... (5, Informative)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about a year ago | (#44883113)

Back in the late 90's up to about 2001, I worked as a web author/web developer at a not so huge newspaper... we in the web department (Known as Electronic Publishing internally) had a pretty free hand to try and figure out how to keep the paper on top of technology.

We were pretty innovative for the time - we got our classifieds and real estate and obits online and we were able to publish breaking stories immediately and get our content online before it was in the physical paper ... a bunch of neat stuff.

Then, sometime in mid 2000, our paper got bought by a big conglomerate.... they had their own very cookie cutter online approach and gutted the soul of our department - there was no innovation - hell, we lost a huge number of features that we had been doing for a couple years, but they didn't have equivalents for in their system.

They homogenized their "online strategy" and threw out the baby with the bathwater... Now, I think they're still struggling with trying to stay relevant as the world moves farther and farther away from paper - they are too big and too stuck in their ways to have the kind of entrepreneurial innovation that our smaller paper had...

Ok, sorry for rambling on - the point is that some papers - the ones who "got" the web may have been able to innovate and stay relevant ... but the big media behemoths have had a much harder time adjusting... they're simply not agile enough and not willing to embrace "disruptive technologies" (tech that threatens their current business model)

The bigger they are, the more slowly they turn.

Fear and Loathing in New York (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about a year ago | (#44883189)

There are another couple of factors at work. First, journalists tend to be English majors who say things like, "math is hard," or "computers hate me." Second, once they come to work for a place like the New York Times their fragile egos swell to gargantuan proportions to insulate them from the reality that they really don't know how to do anything, and nobody really cares what they have to say. Next to those two factors, the presence or absence of engineers in their walls is irrelevant.

Even as recently as two years ago their entrenched attitudes had not altered one bit, though the increasingly frequent waves of layoffs had sent hot jets of fear up their spines. They started to wake up to the fact that their way of life was slipping away. But instead of taking concrete action to do something about it, they clung to fantasies like ebooks and tablets being the white knight that would save all of publishing and allow them to continue to be elitist snobs.

Now that that promise has evaporated, they are reduced to sniping at the "pfah! mere bloggers" who have been scooping them on story after story lately. They thumb their noses at crowd-sourced reporting platforms like Ushahidi. They get their panties in a bunch when the Whitehouse invited the first blogger to participate in the press briefings. They worry that they are incapable of doing that kind of reporting any more because the corporate overlords who they've gotten so deeply into bed with will not allow the truth to come to light lest they should not invite them to their fabulous parties anymore.

But most of all, they won't deal with reality because they just cannot tolerate the idea that the control of the public discourse is slipping out of their fingers for good, and that they will be undeniably as irrelevant as they, deep down in their hearts, have always known they are.

And that, my friends, is something that no amount of engineers or platforms or technology in the world can save them from. So, dear old New York Times, because you refuse to adapt to the times, I am afraid your times are about up. Pack up and go commiserate with your former star reporters, Jayson Blair and Judith Miller.

Even if they had, it wouldn't have mattered (1)

Scareduck (177470) | about a year ago | (#44883205)

The NYT is a hidebound unionista redoubt, resistant to new ideas from within or without. They think like employees, not entrepreneurs. And that, ultimately, is why they will fail.

Newspapers Didn't Have That Vision (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#44883209)

That's not what newspapers were about. Giving a eulogy while the subject is still coughing up blood is a bit unorthodox, but here we go! Newspapers were low-budget operations that spent as little as possible on everything while putting ad revenue in the pockets of their owners. Next to the restaurant industry, they were the least forward-looking group of people I've ever seen. They are actually very similar to the restaurant industry in a lot of ways; labor violations abound, they never spend money on anything they don't absolutely have to and they never, ever, EVER plan for the future. Saying that a Newspaper should have developed the media application of the future is about as ludicrous as saying that McDonald's should genetically engineer the bull of the future, except that McDonald's is actually more likely to do that.

There will still be reporters and the news sites that managed to adapt enough to survive in the Internet era, but I don't think there will be print papers for that much longer. I suspect Google will be the largest employer of reporters in the future, and that they'll somehow figure out how to outsource local news reporting. Google had the kind of vision to build the media platform of the future. Newspapers didn't.

When non-software-companies develop software (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | about a year ago | (#44883217)

Software developed by non-software companies tends (in my experience) to disappoint on all three counts: quality, price, and speed of delivery.

For starters, non-software companies typically suffer from the All Three fallacy: they want it good, cheap, and fast. No "pick one" principle here: they want it all. Over-optimistic projections then give way to crappy software and extended disappointment.

The core problem, however, is that software companies are better at creating software (forgive me for stating the obvious) because they specialize in creating software, which puts non-software companies (newspapers, banks, whatever) in the second ranks at best.

Related observation: non-software companies have been hot for "Agile" over the past several years; in my experience, every last one of them is not taken seriously, or indeed is treated with rich and deeply-felt contempt, by every last developer at that company. (Personally, I try to let it go, write it off as inevitable industry marketing jargon.)

Hindsight (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year ago | (#44883227)

He's looking at two successes ( twitter, facebook), ignoring all of the failures in the same vein ( myspace, friendster, plurk, etc) and assuming that if they had just hired enough engineers they would have had the the successful companies and not failed like the other companies trying to do the same thing.

A True Consultant (4, Insightful)

snookerdoodle (123851) | about a year ago | (#44883261)

From the second fine article: "It's the nature of employees to want to do the things outsiders might do for you. And it's not just money it's costing you. People coming from outside your organization are free to think without the encumbrances of insiders."

No, it's not. It's the nature of consultants to want to separate you as a company from your money. It is the nature of consultants to attempt to sell their services by any means possible, including questioning the work ethic and intelligence of employees.

"People coming from outside your organization are free to think without the encumbrances of insiders."

Yup. Instead, they are completely shackled by the encumbrances of outsiders: Not being truly invested in a company's well-being at the top.

I've been at this awhile now. I've been a consultant (and liked it) and an employee (and liked that, too). I've seen organizations go through the outsource-insource-outsource cycle enough to know it makes little difference.

BREAKING NEWS: Consultant Thinks You Should Hire Consultants.

Re:A True Consultant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884335)

Consulting: If you're not part of the solution, there is good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

The The (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883381)

I liked that band...

"Instead, the the news business"

Irony (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year ago | (#44883461)

The irony in this is that it was technology that made the newspapers possible. Without the technology of the printing press there would never have been newspapers in the first place.

not FB/Twitter, but NSA/CIA/FBI control NYT (0)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#44883505)

New York Times is Government biach. Lets not forget how NYT asks every agency it can find before publishing a story. They sat on warrantless wiretapping story not to upset Washington.

It's easy to talk that talk (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#44883509)

It is a business school fundamental teaching nowadays that a company better cannibalize its own product before someone else does. In the real world, that almost never happens. It is just too hard for the financial minds in a company to approve any act which jeopardizes current profits.

Not just newspapers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44883775)

That pretty much sums up at least the last two generations of the entire nation.

Newspapers have many ways of being stupid (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#44884065)

I remember many years ago the Dallas Morning News threatening to sue anyone who made a hyperlink directly to a story, instead of linking to the front page and telling people to go find the story (obviously so DMN could get more ad impressions). They should have hired more programmers and engineers so that they would eventually find one that would make outside links (referrer not from their own domain) redirect to their front page.

TIME Inc. case0 (1)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | about a year ago | (#44884267)

PAGES Inc., software developer, initially built templates for TIME magazine to shorten time to market. The pulp version was 3 days stale before presses printed the news. TIME's goal was to get it down to 3 hours. TIME chose to forgo software and the rest is history. Apple copied the concept of the defunct corporate project naming the application after its namesake inspiration, Pages.

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