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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

New York Times launches Beta620 to encourage experimentation and improve online presence



The New York Times has made some digital moves to improve its relevance in the online world, including the Aug. 7 launch of beta620 which encourages readers to "experiment with new products that could eventually take root on NYTimes.com," according to Advertising Age.

"It's a place that gives a permanent home to the tradition of innovation," Denise Warren, senior VP and chief advertising officer at the New York Times Media Group and general manager at NYTimes.com, told Advertising Age. On the beta620 site, The Times' Joe Fiore writes that it is "difficult to try out new inventions on the world’s largest newspaper Web site" which led to the birth of a "new home for experimental projects from Times developers — and a place for anyone to suggest and collaborate on new ideas and products."

Mashable.com calls the beta620 — the numbers are the address for The Times' Eighth Avenue headquarters in New York City — "a desire on behalf of The Times to continue developing its online product based on user feedback and suggestions."

Current projects include Community Hub which allows access to readers' comments and recommendations, and eventually Facebook friends' comments. Another project is Longitude which encourages readers to tap into an interactive map of the day's news.

Poynter.Org also reported that TimesPeople, the newspaper's social network, is being re-tooled to hopefully increase social interaction among users. “It has to do with increasing the sense of identity and reputation on the site, making it easier to find your social actions and follow others,” Marc Frons, the Times’ chief technology officer for digital operations, told Poynter's Jeff Sonderman.

Sonderman commented that a more interactive TimesPeople may "make NYTimes.com a stickier site," perhaps increasing visitors to a Web site that has seen its popularity tumble slightly since a modified paywall was introduced earlier this year.

However, in a New York Times story about television networks' enduring ability to attract advertising dollars, it was reported that while print advertising at the daily newspaper had declined by 6.4 percent in the second quarter, online ad revenue had climbed by 2.6 percent.



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