NY Times Public Editor: Readers Are Answer to Future

"The goal is to double digital revenue within the next five years, and dedicated readers will be a key part of that."

Liz Spayd, the New York Times’ new public editor, has an idea for the Times: Listen to your readers. In her debut column, Spayd argued that the Times can increase its audience by paying more attention to readers’ wants, needs and habits.

“More than most news organizations, the Times has hitched its future to building a loyal audience that will come back repeatedly and pay for the privilege of doing so,” explained Spayd. “These readers contribute more than half of The Times’s total revenue, almost unheard-of for a mass audience publisher. The goal is to double digital revenue within the next five years, and dedicated readers will be a key part of that.”

Spayd suggested that the Times open additional articles to comments and ask staffers to spend more of their days actually interacting with readers.

As for the notion that listening to readers isn’t a good idea because Times editors and staffers know best, Spayd disagreed completely.

“I don’t worry that the Times will go too far in incorporating reader ideas, nor do I think it will be careless in doing so,” she wrote. “I worry that it won’t go far enough.”