Global influence of The New York Times

An American newspaper may not seem an obvious target for UK PR professionals, but The New York Times should not be underestimated.

The New York Times
The New York Times

A new focus on digital, including hiring its first social media editor and launching a global homepage, has made it increasingly accessible to readers across the world. This attempt to position itself as a digital media brand has also made it relevant for British organisations.

There are many respected titles in the US, including The Washington Post, with its fearsome reputation in the political sphere, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

But Open Road chairman Nick DeLuca argues no other newspaper exerts as much national influence as The New York Times. 'If you want to take the national temperature on any issue, or if PR professionals want to shape how a company is perceived nationally, you have to get into The New York Times,' he says.

Ketchum's head of digital media Fernando Rizo,who recently moved over from the US, agrees: 'It styles itself as the paper of record in the US. Key decision-makers all over the world read it every day.'

To put its influence into perspective, The New York Times has 'the same importance as the collective influence of two or three of our national broadsheets', according to Idea Generation MD Hector Proud.

'It comes with considerable kudos for any client with a national or international outlook. It's up there with the FT or The Economist.'

But all is not well at the paper's headquarters. US media have been hit hard by dwindling advertising, with sites such as Newspaper Death Watch springing up to detail which papers have folded.

The New York Times Company has reacted to this bleak landscape with a series of cost-cutting measures, putting The Boston Globe up for sale and focusing on digital.

'It has really embraced digital. People should watch it, because it is a trendsetter,' says Rizo.

As PRWeek went to press, there were reports that The New York Times was on the brink of introducing fees for its online articles.

The paper's history is not without controversy. In 2003, one of its journalists, Jayson Blair, was caught plagiarising and fabricating parts of his stories.

And journalistic failures in the run-up to the Iraq war also hurt the paper's credibility.

But, DeLuca argues, it still has the ability to report with more authority than any other paper in the US because it is the best resourced.

'It has the ability to get into a story to a greater degree, because it has a lot more journalists,' he says.

The door is open for longer-term stories or longer analysis pieces, but DeLuca warns: 'The danger is The New York Times can dive into something you are worried about and that can be detrimental.'

Circulation Daily 1,039,031 Sunday 1,451,233 (Source: ABC Fas-Fax March 2009)

Unique users 20 million in March 2009 (Nielsen Online) -22 per cent of visits come from outside the US



Jonathan LandmanA minute with... Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor, The New York Times

How do you position yourself in the media landscape?

We want people to see us as providers of the highest-quality journalism, in many forms. We seek to be, and spend a great deal of time, money and effort trying to be, reliable, sophisticated, comprehensive and fair.

You have been criticised for being a 'bastion of north east liberalism'. Is that fair?

There is no question that our editorial page generally takes positions most Americans would consider liberal, and endorses more Democrats for office than Republicans. However, the positions taken by our editorial board do not influence our news coverage. Some people don't believe that. Those people are wrong.

How is your online offering helping to make the paper more accessible outside the US?

We have a new global homepage and several global section fronts curated with international readers in mind. What are your predictions for the media industry? If I could predict the future I would be very, very rich.

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