The leaked New York Times ‘digital innovation’ report is well worth reading beyond whatever role it may have played in the firing of Jill Abramson. (First thought: they should hire Meg Pickard right now.) It reflects all the anxieties of an institution that’s both an odd family fiefdom and an essential part of the media landscape. Most of all, it shows a queasy frustration at how the old order has broken down in an online environment dominated by summarisers and explainers: the entire concept of the scoop begins to fracture once you leave print behind. That deeply-reported, Pulitzer-winning 10,000-worder, or that exclusive sit-down interview? Most people know about it through Buzzfeed’s 500-word summary or a graph someone knocked up at Vox, and they didn’t bother clicking through. There’s really no better word for it than parasitic, and the only way for hosts to survive is for them to become their own best parasites.
The proposed digital future for the NYT is like that of a collapsed star: a small dense core of journalism with a large gravitational field of kittens.