Myth: The Smaller News Hole (at the NYT)

heads up: this is a pretty old post, it may be outdated.

Vanity Fair did an interesting experiment. They compared the size of the news hole (the space devoted to reporting and opinion) in the New York Times at different times. Looking at a current paper, a year-old paper, and a 10 year old paper, Vanity Fair concluded that the Times is actually devoting a larger percentage of their space to content, and that the amount of content has not shrunk.

So criticize The New York Times for its bogus trend stories, questionable judgment, or occasional acts of plagiarism. But please don’t accuse it of skimping on the news.

-VF Daily: The Incredible Shrinking New York Times?: Online Only:

Their findings were in line with an article by the public editor of the Times. Who professed not to like the recent design changes to the Times, but to appreciate the Times insistence that the content was unchanged. "The new front-page index is a big improvement, but I find the design of the expanded one inside jarring. ... The items in the new index float in a sea of white space, looking light and inconsequential." Clark Hoyt wrote.

The design changes might have been a bit "drastic" but surely must be welcomed. They give the paper a more modern design which it desperately needed. If print newspapers are going to survive, they need to become a product based on something beside delivering news. Design will obviously play a key roll. The web has taught the media a few lessons on how people navigate their news. Reflecting those lessons in print is a smart, forward thinking approach.

Maintaining the size of the news hole is an impressive feat. True, they cut out a few pages of stock quotes, but who cares? The idea of getting stock quotes from a newspaper is almost ludicrous nowadays anyway. Cheers to the Times for leading the media industry by example.

Sidenote: It sure would be interesting to compare the amount of the news hole devoted to investigative journalism, celebrity gossip, spot news, international news, etc. It also might be interesting to do this research with other papers. (WaPo, LA TImes, Chicago Tribune, etc.)