Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Harvard Brianiacs Think The NYT Should Buy Twitter. They Might Be Right.

There's some chatter on Twitter right now about a provocative new essay on a Harvard business school blog that suggests the NYT should buy Twitter. It's a pretty smart idea.

Umair Haque has written "How To Save Newspapers (Or, how the NYT should buy Twitter)" with an acknowledgement that the NYT "lacks the cash for such a play." But Haque, who posted his essay at 7:58 am this morning, subscribes to the notion that the NYT will soon have to charge website users for its premium content -- and also thinks the NYT needs to embrace new platforms if it hopes to survive.

A post in the comments section of Haque's post led the NYTPicker to fellow Harvard student Stephen Bates's slideshow analysis of the NYT's economic situation, which concludes that the NYT needs to do the following:

--charge for premium "nice to have" content on the website.
--get other individuals and corporations to pay for NYT content.
--switch readers "from print to pixels" through Kindle promotions
--"build/enhance brand" by form strategic alliances between the NYT and other media platforms, i.e. television (CNBC) magazines (The New Yorker) newspapers and radio.

These bold thinkers see the NYT as an even bigger brand than before -- and a complete turnaround from the defeatest attitude currently embraced by the NYT. (Witness its pathetic "we've cut this to save money" mea culpa on Tuesday's page A2, when it reverted to its old, one-page index layout.)

At the heart of the Twitter proposal lies an understanding of how the news business has changed. Everyone agrees that Twitters offers immediate context to news and information. It's a viral platform. Twitter lets companies form real bond with consumers.

There's a reason the NYT does three stories about it a day!

And here's the real rub: Haque suggests the NYT-Twitter merger could mean charging content providers for sending out information via Twitter. That could turn NYTwitter into a Google-level goldmine for its owners. Yum!

Wow, this is actually a hot idea. Too bad the NYT is broke. Maybe someone needs to call Carlos Slim for some more money.

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