For the first time ever, The New York Times has posted a story that’s set to run in its Sunday magazine two weeks before the publication date. The lengthy feature, written by Peter Baker, focuses on the Obama administration’s work combating terrorism, a topic that has particular relevance in the face of the failed attack on Christmas Day.
When publications like the Times magazine have newsy content, it’s hard for them to sit on them until the scheduled publication date. As a result, they can choose to publish part or all of their articles online prior to print publication — and risk alienating their print readers. But the decision to publish the story two weeks early will most likely not deter readers from picking up a Sunday Times on January 17; it is, after all, only one story in the paper, and the Times always publishes its stories online at least a few hours before the print version is available, if not a few days early in the case of many recent Sunday magazine pieces.
The Times‘ deputy magazine editor Megan Liberman told Politico’s Michael Calderone that publishing those magazine stories early “doesn’t dampen interest” in the content before the weekend. What’s more, Liberman added that the story itself could change between now and its eventual print date if more terrorism-related news emerges before its Friday close. It was the “urgency” of this particular story that warranted the early, unprecedented, online publishing of this piece.
The difference between magazine stories online and in print are vast. Long-form pieces are sometimes easier to read as a hard copy, and the relationship between the art and the words in a magazine article creates an experience that can’t be duplicated with columns of digital text. So, although this story will be read countless times before its print version ever reaches readers’ hands, there’s still a case for reading it (again) in that format.
Do you agree?
Read more: Inside Obama’s War on Terrorism —New York Times Magazine