I don’t usually get drawn into debates about the roles of mainstream vs. new media. Commentators such as Reilly Yeo at The Mark have done a great job of that here
What really struck me over the weekend was how out of touch organizations such as The New York Times still are, despite their efforts to modernize and incorporate new media techniques.
In this Sunday article, “Effort to Widen U.S. Internet Access Sets Up Battle”, the authors talk about a new initiative to improve access and speed to the Internet across the country. Part of the article mentions a new F.C.C. application that will “allow [subscribers] to test the speed of their home Internet and see if they’re paying for data speeds as advertised”.
Since I was reading the article online, I thought that sounded cool and wanted to test my own speed. So I looked for the link to the FCC app – and looked and looked and could not find it anywhere. In fact, the only links in the article are to internal NY Times web site searches.
So of course, I leave the NY Times site, flip over to Google and search for the site. At which point the New York Times has lost any ability to capture any revenue, click-through traffic or anything from me. Why would I go back?
To me, this is a vivid example of a fundamental problem with “traditional” media. The Internet is not an afterthought or add-on – it needs to be part of the basic DNA of an organization for communication, collaboration and connection. Unless groups like the Times get this figure out fast, they won’t be around much longer. Of course there are other issues around business model and so on, but if consumers like myself cannot actually do what I need to do with the product, no changes to business models will help.