The New York Times, published in New York City since 1851, is the largest metropolitan newspaper in the United States. The online edition of the Times, at www.nytimes.com, was launched in January 1996. The online version includes not only the same articles, features, and images that appear in the print edition, but an array of additional still image, video, audio, and data content. In general www.nytimes.com is the most comprehensive existing aggregation of information and content created and published by The New York Times with the exception of crosswords and some syndicated materials.
The Times has long been an important source of reporting, information and opinion, covering politics, finance, health, science, culture, the arts, sports, and fashion in the U.S. and abroad, with special emphasis on the New York metropolitan area. The paper has been referred to as “The Gray Lady,” because of the traditional format and appearance it has retained and its iconic role.1 But in recent years the online version of the Times has pioneered the use of multimedia content as supplements or main features of reporting, utilizing extensive color photography, live databases, animated information graphics, audio, and video.
In April 2013 The Times's publisher (New York Times Company) announced a series of strategic initiatives to increase interest and sales, including expanding international coverage and creating specialized resources.2 New niche subscription products targeted for release in 2014 as part of a "Paywalls 2.0" initiative included development in three areas: "Food and Dining" (now "NYT Cooking"), "Need to Know" ("NYT Now," since discontinued), and "Opinion" content.3 In March 2014 The Times produced an internal document titled "Innovation," analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, and potential opportunities for optimizing digital strategies. That document was leaked in May 2014; an insightful summary with additional comments appeared in the Nieman Journalism Lab.4 The October 2015 forward-facing publication "Our Path Forward" suggested further strategies The Times would take to engage an enlarged readership: focusing on original journalism, improved features, more focused user-tailored experiences, and international audience development.5
According to the publisher, The Times produces more than 300 URLs every day.6 Times content is also enriched by inclusion of longitudinal data from syndicates and data sources such as Thomson Reuters and AccuWeather. For example, interactive charts enable users to view the status and changes in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and other financial indexes in detail for daily, weekly and in some cases hourly periods between January 1930 and the present day. Video and multimedia content factor heavily into The Times's present online content strategy. In 2014-2015 The Times began to invest more heavily in video technology for coverage of events in the United States and abroad. Since November 2016, The Times offers a daily "virtual reality" 360-degree video with "more than 200 Times journalists filing these videos from 57 countries."7 The Times has also extended into audio podcasts (including "The Daily" launched in 2017) and is experimenting with broadcast ("The Weekly," premiered June 2019 on FX Networks and Hulu).
In 2012 The Times introduced a Chinese-language edition, cn.nytimes.com, with reporting by staff based in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong. The content and coverage of events in the international and Chinese editions differ slightly from content on nytimes.com. A Spanish edition (www.nytimes.com/es/) aimed at the Latin American market was added to the front page of the site in 2016. The site provided online access to the International New York Times edition (previously the International Herald Tribune) in 2013, but discontinued access sometime after 2016.
In the Appendix to this review, "New York Times and New York Times Digital: Comparing Content Across Platforms," Dorothy Carner compares 2013 Times subscription data and trends in the level of online access with that of other major digital news media.
Retrospective Content and Archiving
The online archive of nytimes.com includes both the articles and the multimedia content that has, since 1996, accompanied them. Material from more recent years also includes Times blogs, such as the business blog DealBook. The online archive portion of the nytimes.com site includes most materials produced for the online edition by staff and freelance reporters and photographers. It does not include certain syndicated articles supplied by providers such as the Associated Press and other wire services, or materials provided by “ad servers.” After the New York Times Co. vs. Tasini Supreme Court ruling (2001), the Times retrospectively redacted from its online archive materials by freelance and contract contributors for which it had no clear electronic distribution rights. (Since Tasini, the Times has revised contributor agreements to permit re-use of content in all forms of publication.)
As of October 2014, the online archive also incorporates the text of articles published in the print edition from its beginning in 1851, more than 13 million articles total searchable via https://www.nytimes.com/search/. The 1851 through 1980 portion of the archive includes 46,595 issues that span 2,456,075 printed pages and contain 11,298,320 articles. Pre-1981 material is largely from digitally scanned microfilm of the print edition, available either in full-text or partial articles (optical character recognition may introduce transcription errors). Partial articles include an excerpt of the article and a link to TimesMachine where subscribers can view the entire article in its original form. Full-text versions are available for all articles published after 1980.
(Note that under the academic site license, access to content from 1923 through 1980 is currently limited because of technical constraints and contractual arrangements for electronic distribution; as of August, 2014, online subscribers can access up to 5 articles per day from 1923-1980 for the life of their "academic pass," or 100 articles per month for users whose libraries subscribe under the Group Subscription model [Option 1]. There is a per-article charge beyond this.)
While the entire scope of nytimes.com content is only available in the online edition, several commercially available databases do include article and page-image content from the print edition of the New York Times. In the Appendix to this review, "New York Times and New York Times Digital: Comparing Content Across Platforms," Dorothy Carner compares content available at the nytimes.com site with the contents of various aggregator databases.
- ProQuest Newsstream - Provides searchable access to abstracts and full text of Times articles from June 1, 1980 to the present. No photographs or multimedia content.
- Nexis Uni (formerly LexisNexis Academic) - Articles June 1, 1980 to the present.
- Factiva - Articles June 1, 1980 to the present.
- ProQuest Historical Newspapers - Full-text searchable page-images of the Times published edition from 1851-2015*.
- ProQuest Recent Newspapers (formerly ProQuest Digital Microfilm) - Searchable page images of print edition, covering 2008-recent (3 month embargo on current editions).
Selected text content from the Times can also be found in databases from EBSCO, Gale (Academic OneFile), and Dialog Newsroom (from ProQuest).
Some nytimes.com content also has been captured by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, but Wayback Machine coverage prior to 2012 is limited, and most dynamically generated and multimedia nytimes.com content is not captured at all. (See analysis of retrospective coverage of TheTimes in CRL's review of the Wayback Machine.)