The New York Times will introduce algorithms to its digital platforms by mid-year that will customise the delivery of news online by adjusting a reader’s experience to accommodate individual interests.
An explanatory article on the NYT’s website says what readers see when they come to The Times will depend on factors like the specific subjects they are most interested in, where they live or how frequently they come to the site.
Kinsey Wilson, executive vice president and editor for innovation and strategy, says the goal is an enriched experience that keeps the most important and compelling news at the centre of the site — for everyone — but treats readers like individuals, with unique preferences and habits. “We need to address our audience one on one,” he says.
The NYT says in the article that several ideas are being evaluated. “Some, readers will choose, like signing up for alerts when a favourite columnist publishes. Others, The Times will enact on its own,” it says.
“For example, a story could be moved out of the lead position for a reader who has already seen it, or it could be kept in the lead longer for those who come to the site infrequently. Fans of particular subjects might see more of that content visible on their mobile device or home page.”
Despite the personalised approach, based on reader data, it will not change the reader’s access to all of The Times content, it says.
Legal case to establish status of “fake news”
A pending court case in the American state of Colorado looks set to establish what “fake news” is in legal terms and whether it is actionable under law if accused of distributing it.
Jay Seaton, the publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, has threatened to sue Ray Scott, a Republican in Colorado’s State Senate, for calling his newspaper “fake news.”
The dispute began after the newspaper published an editorial calling on the senator to give an open-records law “a fair hearing before the full Senate”. Scott responded by tweeting that the newspaper was “very liberal” and calling it fact-free “fake news.” Three days later, Seaton published his column, which called the tweets “patently, provably false” and ended with an ominous “see you in court.”
Seaton told the Poynter website: “The success of this democracy is due in large part to two players: our judicial system and the free press. An attack on either of them is pretty jeopardising to our Constitution. So I am responding to that kind of attack on a free press in one of the ways that I am familiar with which is judicial remedies.”
The Spectator on a subscriptions roll
The 189-year-old conservative-leaning British magazine, The Spectator, has had its biggest month for new subscriptions in 30 years. The publisher added 400 new paying subscribers a week in March, double last year’s figures. Total subscriptions — a mix of regular subscribers and magazine newsstand sales — are at just over 67,000, according to the publisher.
The Spectator’s editor Fraser Nelson believes the spike boils down to one specific trend: people’s willingness to pay for quality journalism.
“The whole industry is seeing a spike in subscriptions,” Mr Nelson said. “At first, I thought it was a Brexit bump, then a Trump bump, but then in January, we were still doing way better than before.”
Magazine sales and subscriptions account for between half and two-thirds of the publisher’s revenue.