More Disconnects Internally At Traditional Media Outlets

Previously, I shared an interesting situation that erupted between Fortune Magazine and TechCrunch.  It appeared to me as a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing (essentially, it looked like legal got upset with something the PR team executed on).  Either way, Fortune did not come off looking good in the situation and they should know better than to agree to things they can’t fulfill.

Another situation happened this week where there is an obvious disconnect between two different groups at a media outlet, this time with the New York Times.

What happened?  The New York Times forced Apple to takedown an RSS reader.  And for what?  Showing RSS feeds!  It’s almost as if the New York times isn’t sure how the Internet works.  A quote from Techdirt highlights the absurdity of this request:

Basically, this app is your standard everyday RSS reader, the same sort of RSS reader that has been available all over the place for years. It’s using the NY Times official RSS feed, because the NY Times put it out there. For the NY Times to then complain about it doing so is bizarre.

Amazing that the New York Times – a media outlet – would misunderstand their own feed of content so much they would immediately send in legal because an RSS reader featured in the Apple Store was (gasp) sending them new subscribers (and if they actually thought about this instead of freaking out, they could actually monetize them).

Either:

1.  They are upset another iPad application is putting out their content and they want users to download the New York Times iPad application.

OR

2.  They are upset someone else is charging for an application that can display their content.

Except both reasons are bogus when you consider that they are publishing content through RSS and there exists a long tail of paid/free devices and applications accessing this feed.  It would be impossible to police all of this use of open content, and in fact they can’t.  But going after specific apps on specific platforms merely because they don’t like that app makes no sense:  if they don’t want people accessing their content through a feed, they shouldn’t offer a feed at all.

My sense is they aren’t pleased that an RSS application is a far superior application for the iPad than a single-publication device like their New York Times app.  Like I said before, the iPad is not magically going to bring back even close to the revenue print publications received in previous years.  It’s so tactical, they need a larger, strategic play to win a connected society.

Anyway, their misunderstanding of the web aside, what’s even more amazing is the New York Times, just like Fortune has a clear philosophical and strategic disconnect between different internal teams.  What’s our proof?  The NYT Bits Blog praised this application last week.  In other words:  part of this company is actively rallying against something it doesn’t understand (or like) and another part of the company is embracing it and praising it editorially.

These media brands that tell an inconsistent story don’t come off looking good by having internal disconnects play out publicly for the world to see.  The web is always going to put the pieces together.  They only succeed in sending mixed signals to their fans, reducing the value of their brands and hurting their relevance in a digital society.