In his latest column, Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton wonders if The Post is innovating too fast. “Hardly a week goes by without the Web site or newspaper launching some feature, or a venture to attract more revenue, or a blog, or a social media innovation,” Pexton writes.
Poynter’s Craig Silverman asked The Post’s Managing Editor Raju Narisetti what he thought of Pexton’s column. Noting that he respects the ombudsman’s independence and duty to write about the issues Post readers face, Narisetti disagrees. Read his full response below and share your thoughts in the comment thread.
From Managing Editor Raju Narisetti:
If anyone, inside and outside The Post, thinks that in 2012 we have a choice between status quo and offering readers compelling news experiences, they are either unwilling to accept the competitive reality facing American newsrooms and journalism, or hankering for a fat and happy past that will never return.
The fact that washingtonpost.com ended 2011 with an all-time-high number of readers who have read more Post journalism this past year than ever before in its 135-year history, and kept coming back to our content in record numbers, is a clear indication that we remain a compelling choice for digital audiences that could go anywhere that they want.
The Post’s future is going to play out at the intersection of technology and content because we have to continue to build loyalty and engagement on the Web, on mobile devices and in social media, the only places where readership will grow. Because of that, our newsroom — both in its thinking and structure — needs to be in a relatively permanent “beta” mode as we learn, adapt and lead. This isn’t change for change sake.
As someone who has led Post’s digital content initiatives over the past three years, I actually wish it were true that we have too much innovation at the Post. If anything, I am a big believer in our need to innovate even more than we have been doing so far, with creative offerings that meet the needs of all our customers — readers and advertisers alike.
As the person who actually gets every single e-mail that comes to firstname.lastname@example.org, the address that we typically ask our readers to use in telling us what is working for them and what isn’t, I can tell you an excess amount of Post innovation isn’t what they say they are worried about.
I am acutely aware we have ways to go in other areas — in ease of use, better navigation, speed with which our Web site delivers Post journalism, and our site-search capabilities. They are all real and serious IT legacy and infrastructure issues that our technology team, in close partnership with the newsroom, continues to address and make progress. And we will get better at all those because, again, it isn’t really a matter of choice for our journalism or our brand or our business.
In the meantime, stay tuned for more Post innovation aimed at making our journalism that much more compelling, competitive and reader-friendly.