An Evening with The Gray Lady

Reading a physical newspaper is something I haven’t done in quite some time. Though undeniably foreign, I must admit that the tactile experience of paper and ink beneath my fingers was an interesting change from what my mother refers to as ‘staring at a screen.’ However, as part of a generation that has come to expect a more immersive news experience, I can’t help but wonder if print media can compete with the interactivity of their digital counterparts.

Comparing coverage of the same story in a physical versus online copy of The New York Times (NYT) proved a useful way to explore this issue. In terms of content, both versions of Jodi Kantor’s Seeing Abuse, And a Pattern Too Familiar were indistinguishable. Even the ads were similar. Where differences arose was in the experience of reading that content.

The online version of Kantor’s article features a wealth of  hyperlinked information that both contextualizes and further investigates aspects of the story, all available to news consumers with the click of a button. For example, the video of Rice assaulting his wife—which was briefly described in the print article—became an opportunity for Institutional Promotion within NYT. The link included in the digital version led not to TMZ (the original source) or other video sites (such as Youtube), but rather to another NYT article  that features earlier developments in the case against Rice.

(TRIGGER WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS VIOLENT CONTENT)

By including this link, the digital version encouraged the exploration of not one, but two NYT articles. Such promotion channels traffic to other areas of the NYT site. Descriptions of relevant Tweets were also linked directly to source material.

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Likewise, opportunities to “Like” or “Share” this article via social media buttons at the top of the page increase the likelihood of “piggy-backing” on readers. This would allow NYT to use its audience to generate even more traffic to the site without having to expend additional resources.

While NYT found a way to push more of its content by linking stories, it missed out on what could have been a valuable opportunity to capitalize on its vast archives. Though the “Relevant Coverage” and “Most E-Mailed” lists adjacent to the article promoted additional content, the NYT failed to recognize major themes of this story beyond sports-related news. Rife with issues of domestic abuse and gender dynamics, this story would have been an ideal way to feature a Collection built around other articles about these serious social problems. Leaving such resources untapped ensures that salient content that could have garnered additional traffic remains buried.

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