It's no secret that times are tough for the Gray Lady. A recent round of buyouts has seen a pack of top-level talent walk away from the paper, including a managing editor, John Geddes, and prolific tweeter and editor Jim Roberts. With so much talk of the papers' woes and past glories, it seems fitting that the Times is announcing a new, forward-facing startup incubator initiative, dubbed TimeSpace.
The project aims to bring "entrepreneurs to our headquarters to refine and grow their businesses," according to its well-manicured launch site. The program is said to last four months, and the Times is looking for between three and five companies for its inaugural round. Judging by the TimeSpace application page, the program sounds similar to incubator programs at media companies like Philadelphia Media Network, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, which has had tech companies working among the ink-stained wretches in the hopes of selling off some proprietary technology to the paper.
While programs like TimeSpace are exciting and indicative of the forward-thinking mindset organizations like the Times need to weather the coming years, these types of incubator programs haven't been without friction. In November, Adweek noted that an incubator at the Philadelphia Media Network outraged Newspaper Guild members, who felt the program was funneling resources and funds away from the newsroom.
While the Times is most certainly looking for a feel-good story, the proximity to a very public series of buyouts could cue grumblings from the media chattering class. More than anything though, TimeSpace is indicative of the direction the paper is heading, where high-rent space at the top of the masthead is being traded for a more affordable shot at a nimble future.