OJR on NYTimes integration

There’s a well-researched and full interview from Online Journalism Review that has lots of interesting stuff about the plans to integrate the offline and online news teams at the New York Times. What I’ve found particularly interesting about the debate around this has been the fairly widespread assumption that the Web side of NY Times is somehow “taking over” the print side. But if you read between the lines in this piece, it’s pretty clear that the print side is driving the change at least as much:

GrayLady.com: NY Times explodes wall between print, Web: “I’m constantly hearing from people in the newsroom who have ideas for cool things we could do on the Web,” Keller told me. “But under the divided operation, all we could do was lob ideas over the transom. Not that the people at the Web site were reluctant to do it. They had other priorities. It was becoming a source for frustration, and I felt that if we were really going to embrace this thing and own it and tap into the creative energy of all these smart people who are filled with ideas that we ought to be in the same place — physically, administratively, in every way.”

That seems to me to be the nub of this story: the potential for transformation of the existing print news team, rather than a fairly simplistic reverse takeover or something. The fact is that the NY Times offline news team is a lot bigger than the online team, and the way that the integration will start to happen is a lot more about inserting the online team into that larger team, for instance:

OJR: [Len] Apcar told E&P that online people would start moving to the newsroom even before ’07. With the recent print layoffs, is there an image of print people leaving and digital people taking their place?

Keller: You mean did we drop the neutron bomb to open up space to move these people in? No. The actual physical merger, the complete merger, won’t happen until spring of ’07. We’re still tinkering with the floor plans, but we expect the digital producers and editors and software developers — all the people we expect to do this — to be contiguous with people who do the print paper.

Until then, we’ll do a few things. In each major news desk, they have an empty seat where we can pretty much right away move in a producer or editor from the Web sitting at each desk. The other thing is the copy desks, which have a lot of space contiguous to the main news desk. They usually start work at around 3 in the afternoon. So in the mornings we could bring in as many people as we want for the first half of the day, which is the time when stories are being hatched.

Also in the piece: Martin Nisenholtz flagged more investment into the excellent NY Times multimedia reports, and also flagged up an RSS aggregation platform under the NY Times. Watch that space.