Signs of the Current Era: TimeSpace by The New York Times

In yet another clear signal that the tradition model alone cannot help a news media company – even of the most venerable pedigree – survive the present churning, The New York Times (NYT) recently introduced TimeSpace, a new initiative that brings entrepreneurs to NYT headquarters to refine and grow their businesses.

The concept is neither an accelerator nor an incubator. It does not seek equity but could invest or be a customer in future, “if invited”.

As per the initiative, “over four months, the participant and his/her team will work out of 620 8th Avenue office of NYT, meet with relevant NYT staff, demo the product and teach/learn alongside entrepreneurs and employees who make their livings in digital media, technology and journalism”.

The NYT describes the potential participant as:

You are an early stage company focused on the media space with a product launched. You are a small team based in New York or open to working from New York for the duration of the program. You have most likely raised at least seed stage funding. You may focus on mobile, social, video, advertising technology, analytics, e-commerce or… apply and tell us why spending four months here will be mutually beneficial.

So why is the NYT doing this? Well, the official explanation for the initiative is this:

It is simple: The New York Times, and media in general, are in the midst of unprecedented change. Our core purpose remains to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. We want to push ourselves and push others to find the best ways to do so, and we believe that timeSpace can be a part of that process.

But those who have been studying the news media landscape have known for long that the NYT has had to make major realignments and lateral orientations to stem the decline in the general readership in the US.

While the experiment with paywall on NYT sites has been successful, the revenues from the exercise is not in the same range as the decline in print revenue.

This is not to suggest – in any manner whatsoever – that the NYT is struggling. Far from it. The point of this blog is to merely illustrate the fact that in an age when venerable giants like the NYT have to continuously reinvent, reorient and explore 360 degrees, there is absolutely no room for staying static to smaller media companies.

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