The New York Times Begins To Outsource Stories

The New York Times is just beginning to opt for a new journalism model that outsources stories from its own newspaper silo that I began to experiment with, successfully, six years ago at Business Week. When Jessie Scanlon and I launched the Innovation & Design site, we designed a networked model to generate content. Our constraint in the launch was money—very little of it. So we connected with Core77 and a whole series of content providers to supply us with great stories. We connected with lots of brilliant “thought leaders” to do columns for us. And we connected with other partners to launch mini-sites within the I&D channel.

The constraint was a wonder for us—it created a new model for journalism that the NYT is starting to use. In fact, we took a second step and then migrated stories, columns and other content to a second platform—print. Reena Jana joined us to launched a magazine, Inside Innovation or IN.

This new journalism model had another impact—it forced us to create a team that could work on many platforms—online, print, video, TV, pod—you name it. Frankly, it was just wonderful. Reena, Jessie, Helen Walters joined up and then Matt Vella, our 20-something genius guy. We were a multi-generational, multinational mashup team.

So the NYT is beginning to do the same—create a network of sources outside its siloed stable of journalists. This could be a very good thing. Not only does it save money and help save the NYT, it opens the conversation, it broadens the sources of stories way beyond the knowledge and expertise of the journalists inside the NYT silo.

Just one bit of advice to the folks at the NYT. You are beginning to shift to curating from editing stories. Curating is harder than editing because you have to work with people you don’t intimately know, at least at the beginning. Editing your own people, well, you know them and their culture. With curating you have to insist on high standards even as you move from being the Voice of Authority to the Curator of Conversations. It’s a huge shift but a necessary one.