The New York Times: NYTimes.com
Long known as “the Gray Lady” for its staid appearance and style, the New York Times was one of the last newspapers to adopt color photography. Now, the Web site of the nation’s newspaper of record is a leader in digital journalism. In its citation for the Peabody Award, the paper was recognized for aggressively and imaginatively adding sound and moving images to all the news that’s fit to print.
Among the many elements that impressed the Peabody board was a 13-minute segment called “Choosing a President 2008,” which summed up the campaign with interactive maps, soundbites with voters across the country, clips from candidates’ speeches, a look at the major issues and a history of the Republican and Democratic races.
“It uses all kind of interesting techniques,” said Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor. Three and a half years ago, he led the charge of integrating what had been a physically separate digital division into the main newsroom, where it now operates on the same floor, one of the five the newsroom occupies in its headquarters building.
“We created a single politics desk, under the leadership of one of our most expert, talented editors, Lisa Tozzi, who has since been promoted to deputy culture editor,” said Mr. Landman. “She and other editors on the desk managed the whole thing, thought up stories, were very active in the politics blogs reporters wrote for the paper, the podcasts—it all got managed together.”
Another way that technology was used to great effect was in the so-called “Debatinator,” an interactive audio, video and text transcript of the debates between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, enabling the viewer to jump anywhere in the text to see and hear the candidates’ comments.
The Web site has a partnership with NBC and MSNBC to use video of news events, and staffers have become adept at being jacks of all trades.
“The whole point is to be able to train people to do different things, but we don’t expect everyone to do everything,” said Mr. Landman. “A reporter can shoot video, photographers can shoot video, a number of people are capable of doing different things. But sometimes that’s not a good use of their time. We do most of the editing in New York.”