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NY Observer Revamps Site Ahead of Print Changes

The New York Observer’s makeover has officially begun. The paper’s site, oberver.com, has been completely revamped — there’s a new font, streamlined sections and even a new logo. Instead of the old standard lineup of articles, observer.com now has featured pieces and a sidebar containing others.

As for first impressions, we’re not fans. The site is definitely cleaner, but it seems a bit too informal. The old observer.com looked like a newspaper site while this version appears flat out unimportant. The updated site also looks unfinished; like the web designers meant to add more heft, but didn’t have the time.

Tomorrow the new print version of the Observerminus the iconic pink paper and in the form of a tabloid — hits newsstands. Let’s hope it looks better than the website does.

Former NY Times Exec Tim Griggs Named Publisher of Texas Tribune

Tim Griggs has been named the Texas Tribune’s publisher and chief operating officer. Griggs has been a Knight Foundation fellow at the Tribune since last September. Prior to that, he spent 15 years with The New York Times.

During his stint with the Times, Griggs served as director of paid products and director of strategic planning. His most recent role was executive director of cross-platform monetization. He also served a number of years as a top editor at the Wilmington Star-News.

“You couldn’t ask for a more perfect place: A market where there’s real demand for news and analysis on statewide politics and public policy; a core team of smart, talented people who are passionate about the mission; a culture of innovation and experimentation; and an organization-wide hunger to grow,” said Griggs, in a statement.

Griggs will report to Evan Smith, the Tribune’s CEO and editor-in-chief.

Arthur Sulzberger and Mark Thompson Talk NY Times

NY Times to Launch New Digital Venture ‘The Upshot’

NYtimes buildingThe void at The New York Times that was left by the departure of Nate Silver and his popular FiveThirtyEight blog will be filled by “The Upshot.” Quartz reports that’s the name of the paper’s new data focused venture, which will launch this spring.

The Upshot will be led by David Leonhardt. He’ll be overseeing a team of 15, including three graphic designers who will make things look pretty. Numbers and analytics can be intimidating, so The Upshot is going to do its best to present them in an easily digestible format.

“The idea behind the name is, we are trying to help readers get to the essence of issues and understand them in a contextual and conversational way,” Leonhardt told Quartz. “Obviously, we will be using data a lot to do that, not because data is some secret code, but because it’s a particularly effective way, when used in moderate doses, of explaining reality to people.”

WSJ Launches Native Advertising

wsjSponsored content, native advertising, ads that are annoyingly similar to editorial content — whatever you want to call them, they’re coming to The Wall Street Journal. Welcome to the party.

The paper has announced that WSJ Custom Studios will create the ads labeled as “Sponsor Generated Content,” and they’ll be embedded among other editorial content. The first native ads, from Brocade, will debut tomorrow. Each ad will be created by staffers hired specifically for WSJ Custom Studios. No Journal staffer will be involved in the ads.

The move isn’t surprising. More media companies are participating in native advertising every day. The New York Times said it was getting into the game last December. The problem with the sponsored ads is that some people view them as deceptive; that they’re designed to intentionally confuse the reader. Gerard Baker, editor of the Journal, doesn’t think that will be an issue.

“Our readers trust us, and the WSJ Custom Studios team has created clear and thorough labeling guidelines around the advertiser’s content in order to protect that trust,” he explained, in a statement. “I am confident that our readers will appreciate what is sponsor-generated content and what is content from our global news staff.”

These Manhattan Newspapers Are Profitable, Hiring

StrausNewsLogoThree of the five weekly community publications – Our Town, Our Town Downtown and The West Side Spirit — are free. The other two, The Chelsea Clinton News and The Westsider, have paid subscriptions of around 1,000.

Per a report by Sydney Ember in the New York Times, things are looking very good these days for the NYC newspapers’ Pulitzer Prize-winning overseer Kyle Pope. The publications are profitable; a redesign was launched last week; and for journalists, Pope says these weekly community newspapers offer a welcome refuge:

The papers have attracted reporters who have grown tired of writing for online publications that often prize quantity over quality. And, Pope added, the papers run the types of articles that readers tear out and post on their refrigerators…

Read more

New York Times Set to Launch Lower-Priced Digital Subscription Option

DigitalMediaStrategiesLogoPicking up on a speech given today at the Digital Media Strategies conference in London by NYT executive vice president, digital products and services Denise Warren, journalism.co.uk’s Rachel Bartlett got the scoop on the first of several new digital products designed for more “price-sensitive” consumers. From her report:

Linda Zebian, manager of corporate communications, told journalism.co.uk over email that “NYT Now is the first of those products and will cost approximately $8 a month. Other entry level products in development focus on opinion and cooking.”

The $8 price tag will be $7 lower than the current lowest-priced digital subscription package, which carries a monthly charge of $15, she said. Zebian also added that products “above our current portfolio” in terms of cost will also be part of the mix.”

Read more

New York Daily News Veteran Don Singleton Dies

Don Singleton, the legendary New York Daily News reporter, has died. He was 77 years old.

Singleton worked for the Daily News from the mid 60s until he retired in 2007. During his time there he covered a variety of subjects, including the Attica prison riots in 1971 and John Lennon’s death in 1980. Singleton had a true passion for reporting, and he was especially fond of the Daily News:

Singleton, who had suffered a stroke and heart attack, struggled with memory loss, but there were aspects of life he would never forget. When his daughter asked him to recall his telephone number, rather than answer with his home phone, he recited his old number at The News.

The Daily News reports that a wake will be held Thursday in Hoboken, at the Lawton-Turso Funeral Home.

[Image: Chet Gordon/Daily News]

The Washington Post Opens New York Design Office

Washington Post logo GThe Washington Post is opening up a design and development office — called WPNYC — right here in New York City. The paper announced today that the new hub (led by director of digital strategy Sarah Sampsel and principal architect Greg Franczyk) will be tasked with updating WaPo’s website.

WaPo is always welcome in New York, but we’re especially happy to hear that WPNYC is hiring. The paper said it is looking to add at least 12 new staffers, including engineers, strategists and architects.

“We have seen great success by embedding a fast moving engineering team directly in the newsroom, and now we want to foster that same environment of accelerated innovation by embedding engineering within Sales in dynamic and vibrant New York City,” said WaPo’s chief information officer, Shailesh Prakash, in a statement. “If you are a software engineer looking to work in a fast-paced, innovative environment and make an impact in the media industry, we want to talk to you.”

The Guardian Issues Fantastic Oscars Correction

The Guardian issued the above correction to remind the world that not all Bradley’s are the same.

(h/t: Elena Zak)

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