NYT’s “Snow Fall”-like South China Sea multimedia story

2013 10 25 spratleys2

Online today: a “Snow Fall“-like New York Times Magazine multimedia feature on the South China Sea.

The piece uses an in-depth, narrative text story about a visit to a Filipino outpost to examine how China and other countries are vying for control in the resource-rich area.

There are videos, images, sounds, maps (like the one above), and more. Very much worth checking out.

UPDATE: Here’s how the story appears in today’s International New York Times.

2013 10 25 south china sea

Journalism Tech

Jim Stewart on the NYT’s Future Following the WaPo Sale

2013 08 11 wapo front page

I was lucky enough to study with Jim Stewart at Columbia this year, and I always look forward to reading his New York Times column, called “Common Sense.”

In his stories, Stewart often examines complex business and economics issues by focusing on facts and evidence and questioning conventional wisdom.

His latest column, which ran Friday, is especially intriguing, as it concerns the current profitability and long-term prospects of The New York Times, his very employer.

Following Jeff Bezos’s purchase of The Washington Post, Stewart asks: Would the Sulzbergers, the family that owns the Times, ever sell the paper?

The family says the NYT isn’t on the block, and Stewart highlights an important point — one which is often overlooked when people make assumptions about the newspaper industry: The Times, unlike the Post, is making money:

That The Times and its controlling family would be among the last survivors should come as no surprise, since it is the strongest of the great newspapers journalistically, and it is profitable. The Times has won 112 Pulitzer Prizes since 1918, including four this year, more than any other newspaper. A week ago, The Times reported quarterly operating earnings of $77.8 million, up 13 percent from a year earlier.

By contrast, The Washington Post’s newspaper division had losses of $53.7 million last year, with no end in sight.

With the Post owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, “In stark financial terms, The Times is now a minnow in a sea of sharks” compared to companies like News Corporation, Facebook, Google, and others with huge market capitalizations, Stewart writes.

He continues:

Nearly everyone I spoke to this week praised The Times for what it has done with its resources. In contrast with Mr. Graham’s comment that he had no answers, The Times has articulated a strategy that addresses many of the pressing questions facing newspapers, and it seems to have been yielding results.


Like The Post, The Times has tried to improve profitability by reducing costs, including the size of the newsroom. But that can go only so far before it begins to affect the quality of the news operation. It may be even more difficult if, as expected, Mr. Bezos invests in The Post’s national news operation. “The likelihood is that The Post and The New York Times will be competing head-to-head in a way they haven’t since the days of Abe Rosenthal and Ben Bradlee,” both legendary editors of The Post and The Times, Mr. Jones said.

The column is worth a read.

Meanwhile, for more on the WaPo sale and what it all means for the economics of journalism, see:


Red shirt protests start tomorrow

Quick note — this NYT story does a good job of surveying the scene ahead of the upcoming red shirt protests, which are due to start tomorrow (Fri. the 12th) here in Bangkok.

I will, as ever, be blogging here and posting snippets on Twitter. If you see any good articles or have any first hand accounts to share, let me know: newley AT

Stay tuned…


More on Matt Gross, the NYT, and multimedia travel journalism

In Jan., 2009, I wrote a post praising the work of the New York Times‘s Matt Gross, aka the Frugal Traveler.

For the last several years, Matt has been combining text, blog posts, and videos to create a unique brand of personality-driven travel journalism for the Times.

Matt has supplied readers — and viewers — with not just conventional, written travel stories. He has also provided advice on the best travel gadgets under $50, he has offered Q&As with fellow travelers, and he has even given us tips on traveling with a baby. Matt covers it all, from big picture stories about travel trends to narrowly-focused pieces on specific destinations and emerging technologies.

In terms of outreach, it’s interesting to note that Matt’s home on the Times site contains amble social media integration. There’s a Frugal Traveler Facebook page, and Matt is active on Twitter, interacting frequently with his more than 14,000 followers.

Matt’s latest story is a typical example of his multimedia storytelling. It appeared last Sunday, and it’s about a ramen noodle expedition he undertook in Tokyo. We get a lengthy (nearly 3000-word long) text story, “One Noodle at a Time in Tokyo,” as well as photographer Basil Childers‘s gallery of memorable images.

Matt also gives us a blog post with the back story about why the assignment was his dream trip, and readers can even find an annotated Google Map of the establishments he visited during the journey.

Moreover, the video that Matt (and, presumably, the NYT multimedia folks) has produced is useful, as well. And at four minutes long, it’s at least as long as a standard TV news/feature package. (You can find the video on the lower left side of the main story page.)

Another interesting tidbit: In the ramen story, Matt mentions that one of his guides was Brian MacDuckston, an American who lives in Tokyo and blogs at The NYT story links to Brian’s blog, naturally, and I noticed an interesting meta-twist: Brian has a blog post with images of one of the eating expeditions he took with Matt. ((One of Brian’s photos, in fact, is this one, which shows what I assume is photog Childers snapping a series of images of two women, one of whom has blonde hair, slurping noodles. One of the pics Basil snapped must be this shot, from the gallery. So here we have the digital contribution from the blogger/noodle enthusiast who guided Matt’s research — and some pics of the shooter in action.))

Is there a larger point here? I’m not sure.

But perhaps, in recounting all of this, the message is that in order to engage with audiences who are increasingly consuming their material online, travel journalists shouldn’t — can’t — think of themselves as simply writers anymore.

It helps if they’re insightful bloggers and understand the digital world. It also helps if they snap their own photos to accompany their stories — as Matt often does. And travel journalists have to be adept at producing videos and curating links to corresponding multimedia materials — blogs, bloggers, Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter — so that their audience can get the most out of their work.

It seems to be working for Matt and the Times.


U.S. Senator Jim Webb: “We Can’t Afford to Ignore Myanmar”

Just wanted to point out that U.S. Senator Jim Webb has a New York Times op-ed about his recent visit to Myanmar. Worth a read. Webb discusses Myanmar’s isolation, China’s influence, and the importance of U.S. engagement.

My previous post about Webb’s visit to Bangkok is here. And here’s my post about Aung San Suu Kyi’s guilty verdict.