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Digital catch up at The Times

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Digital catch up at the times

An internal memo last week has The Times shifting to a digital first strategy soon – you can read it here.

There will be operational changes, in terms of when news conferences are held, we read, and there are some details on subscription levels.

In some ways this is just the paper playing digital catch up. But it presents some interesting challenges for business hacks and flaks in particular, I think.

At the start, hacks will complain, they will say the technology doesn’t work. (Teething problems are inevitable.)

And those used to filing at 8pm only and seeing their work go up online just after midnight might be in for a shock.

For flaks, it means they get to see what is most likely appearing in tomorrow’s paper well ahead of time. Which means they can object to stuff they don’t like and try to get it changed before it appears in print.

Some hacks will hate this idea, they will say it is a shift in the balance of power towards the flaks.

I actually don’t mind it. On a complicated story to which you are coming afresh, it’s a reasonable sense check that you haven’t totally screwed it up.

The sensible flak can say of a story — that’s harsh but fair. Or – the fifth par is just totally wrong. Flaks trying it on can be dismissed as usual, their stock falling with every foolish complaint.

And since we are supposed to give a right to reply, why not just say: here’s what is appearing tomorrow, speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Given how jumpy newspaper lawyers are these days, it’s also a way for hacks to fend them off when they warn of possible libel actions.

Look, they’ve already seen it, the hack can say to the nervy legal beagle.

Hacks, and flaks, might say that digital first just creates more work for both sides.

I’d say its manageable, and it’s been coming for years, so might as well get on with it.

Press release of the day

Tesla is the most Googled stock, says this from Bacancy Technology. The car business gets 487,000 searches a month, four times as much as second placed Apple.

Amazon is fourth, just ahead of Pfizer.

The surprise entry among these tech and drug giants is Rolls Royce, a joint eighth with Facebook.


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