Sometimes, the name “Dean” really comes in handy.
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet announced “a small but significant step” in the paper’s ongoing “digital transformation” in a newsroom memo that went out this morning.
Instead of jockeying for prime print real estate during morning Page One meetings, desks will try to get their stories on something cleverly called “Dean’s List.” There will be a morning Dean’s List and an afternoon Dean’s List. Each Dean’s List will have three or four enterprise stories, and those are what will get the most digital play.
“Desks will instead pitch their best enterprise pieces for digital slots on what we’re calling Dean’s List. (I didn’t come up with that name, but I like it!)” Mr. Baquet wrote.
Good thing Mr. Baquet’s first name isn’t Craig.
Full memo below:
I’m excited to announce a small but significant step in our digital transformation.
Next week, we’re going to revamp the structure of our daily meetings and adopt a new system for pitching major enterprise.
These changes are intended to ensure that our digital platforms are much less tethered to print deadlines. We need to be posting more of our best stories not in the late evening, but when The Times’s digital readership is at its height:between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
This new system will, in particular, give us more flexibility in targeting readers on mobile (which now receives more than half of our traffic) and on platforms like Facebook (where we are rolling out new strategies for presenting our journalism).
In short, our goal is to further elevate the primacy of our digital platforms in the daily life of the newsroom.
Here are the changes:
• We’re retiring our system of pitching stories for the print Page 1.
• Desks will instead pitch their best enterprise pieces for digital slots on what we’re calling Dean’s List. (I didn’t come up with that name, but I like it!)
• Stories that the masthead selects for Dean’s List will receive the very best play on all our digital platforms – web, mobile, social and others yet to come.
• There will be two Dean’s Lists: one designated after the morning meeting, and one after the afternoon meeting. Each list will typically contain three or four enterprise pieces.
• In general, stories on the lists must be ready for posting shortly after the meeting. In other words, if a desk pitches an enterprise piece for the morning Dean’s List, it must be available for posting by noon or so.
• It’s worth noting that the tradition of selecting Page 1 stories under the old system has long made The Times distinctive. We are seeking to preserve the rigor of this process, but update it for the digital age. Desks will compete for the best digital, rather than print, real estate.
• Desks will continue to pitch news for major digital play at both meetings. Dean’s List slots do not include news – only enterprise.
• In fact, I want to emphasize that I believe that the meetings are an important venue for talking about how we are going to handle the major news of the day. We want to have a robust discussion about lines of coverage and about how our journalism will be presented on different platforms.
• We’ll still select stories for the print Page 1 at the afternoon meeting, but that process will play a less prominent role.
I realize that it will take time for all of us to adjust to this new way of doing things. We’re going to follow up shortly with a memo to the desks about the details and logistics of the new system.
Still, you’ll undoubtedly have questions. Please feel free to reach out to me or other masthead editors.