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Seth Godin’s Plan to Fix the NYT

As a former journalist, it is painful to see the newspaper business quickly deteriorate due, in part, because of its inability to understand how the Internet was going to change everything, and what they needed to do to survive/thrive.

What is particularly interesting when looking at the newspaper business and the blogosphere is how much bloggers still rely on newspapers for content. The New York Times, for example, is perhaps the most cited source because its reporters write great content.

The NYT’s business section, for example, writes excellent, must-read technology stories even though there’s no lack of places to get tech news on the Web.

Unfortunately, the NYT is a broken business because the Internet is driving advertising dollars away from it, and its online properties can’t offset the print loses.

Amid all the handwringing about the NYT’s future, Seth Godin has a fascinating blog post looking at what the NYT’s shouldn’t have done or could do to reverse its fortunes. As I read it, I found myself nodding along with many of his points.

For example, he wonders why the NYT doesn’t own Zagat or Yelp.com. Or why it doesn’t have it own version of Wikipedia given the NYT’s amazing content.

Hindsight is 20-20 but Godin’s main assumption is what the NYT could have been and what it is has much to do with the difference between:

senior management playing defense, supporting and protecting the status quo and avoiding offending the elders upstairs vs. using existing momentum and clout to build assets for the next business.

Truth be told, you could say that about a lot of businesses (e.g. music, movies) being disrupted by the Web.

Update: This may be a crazy thought but what about the NYT acquiring Twitter now that Twitter appears to be in play? With three million unique users and a growing reputation as a tool to distribute and consume content, could there be a fit between the NYT and Twitter?

Twitter may be one of those strategic opportunities that many companies may kick themselves for not pursuing. Look at how much News Corp. has gotten out of its MySpace deal? At the time, many people thought Rupert Murdoch has overpaid but now…

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