I love The New York Times, the best newspaper in the world. There is no greater pleasure than sitting out on the patio on a Sunday morning, reading The New York Times, and learning.
I stress the word learning because there are so few places left in our world where true discovery happens. Most of the time, marketers, computers, and even our friends are showing us more of what we already know we like, rather than introducing us to things we have never seen or heard of before.
In the pages of The New York Times, I can be introduced to people, places, events, ideas I would have never found on my own. Every day I read The Times I learn something new. The paper expands my understanding of the world rather than reflecting back to me the understanding I already have.
This is an incredibly valuable service. It is a service that very few media companies in the world still provide (my local paper, the Raleigh News and Observer, rarely does these days, sadly).
Yet, the ongoing conversation about how to solve the financial issues of The New York Times revolves around fixing the business model for newspapers. Most experts say the model is fundamentally broken, and a report released last week by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism doesn’t have a lot of good news for the future of journalism as a whole.
From my vantage point, the answer to fixing The New York Times will not come from exploring a revolutionary business model. It will come from a revolutionary brand, culture, and community model. Let me explain.
Earlier this summer at the Sasquatch Music Festival, someone captured the three minute video I’ve pasted below. One guy dancing to M.I.A. (we love her!) starts what becomes a massive dance mob by the end of the song. The video became an YouTube sensation, with over 2,000,000 views.
Many folks have written interesting posts analyzing the event (here are a few of my favorites) and at some point you’ve gotta stop analyzing and realize this man just needed to DANCE and maybe the rest of us do too. But before we do that, a couple of observations from the place where open source community-building intersects with Sasquatch guy dance mob-building.