Since news broke that the The New York Times was coming to Australia, details have been few and far between. But gossip has, slowly, reached the bunker.
As we reported last month, the paper has been conducting focus groups with Australian subscribers. Sources say that while the research teams emphasised confidentiality, not a lot was given away. We hear that the topics covered included where people got their news from, with many saying that they focus on digital news instead of television. The NYT research group also tested two different versions of an “Australian” homepage. One was similar to the current NYT homepage but with Australian news spread through the current offering, and the other was the current offering with a sidebar of Australian news. We hear that the members of the focus groups talked up their wish for more “serious” news. The focus groups were paid, and they included people between 25 and 59 in Sydney and Melbourne.
Meanwhile, the paper’s executives also made time to speak to local media bosses. Crikey hears The New York Times wasn’t giving away what it was doing (its executives came heavily armed with questions), but some participants did get the impression the paper was mostly focused on growing subscriptions from Australia. Which fits with what NYT head of communications Eileen Murphy told Crikey last month, that the paper saw Australia as “a large community of potential NYT subscribers”. The NYT already has several thousand Australian subscribers — growing that figure wouldn’t necessarily need a full-scale newsroom like has been set up by The Guardian.