Staff aban­dons desk­top ac­cess to NY­ for ‘Mo­bile Week’

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - News - McMeekin Editor-in-Chief

The New York Times made a bold com­mit­ment to mo­bile in June when it re­stricted em­ployee ac­cess to its desk­top web­site in an ef­fort to im­prove the ex­pe­ri­ence of read­ing its jour­nal­ism on mo­bile and tablet plat­forms.

“Mo­bile Week” took place June 15-19, and was the brain­child of As­sis­tant Mast­head Editor Clifford Levy.

“The ba­sic chal­lenge we’re fac­ing is that more read­ers are com­ing to us on mo­bile plat­forms — phone, tablets — and we need to be fo­cus­ing on those read­ers and en­sur­ing that the ex­pe­ri­ence on those plat­forms is as ex­cel­lent as it can be,” Levy told News & Tech.

To foster that, the pa­per blocked ac­cess to its desk­top web­site to all of the ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 em­ploy­ees at its 620 Eighth Ave. of­fices in New York City. The re­stric­tion also ap­plied to any em­ploy­ees that re­motely ac­cess NYT’s servers via Web or VPN.

When em­ploy­ees at­tempted to ac­cess the site, they were prompted to visit it on their mo­bile or tablet de­vice, Levy ex­plained.

Levy tweeted the Mo­bile Week an­nounce­ment — from Pub­lisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., CEO Mark Thompson, Ex­ec­u­tive Editor Dean Ba­quet and Ed­i­to­rial Page Editor Andy Rosen­thal — on June 12.

“It got retweeted al­most 2,000 times,” Levy said. “And a lot of peo­ple re­sponded by say­ing, “We should do this.” And it wasn’t just news­pa­pers, but other types of busi­nesses that saw this as a great way to get em­ploy­ees to fo­cus on mo­bile.

“That was re­ally kind of ex­cit­ing to see how much this ex­pe­ri­ence res­onated out­side of The Times.”

The experiment was a chal­lenge for staff, Levy said since they write, re­port and edit via desk­top.

“You may write some­thing and think it looks great, but that doesn’t mean it looks good on a phone,” he said. “Our desk­top CMS has a mo­bile preview, but it’s not the same.”

Levy wanted em­ploy­ees to come up with ways to han­dle the chal­lenges mo­bile

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