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The New York Times News Service: from WWI ‘war wire’ to rich, multi-media content today

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Started during World War I, The New York Times News Service and Syndicate today offers partners rich multi-media content across a range of verticals and in several languages from not only The New York Times but also other premium content sources such as Harvard Business Review, National Geographic, Slate, The Economist, Meredith and more.

We asked Alice Ting, vice president of brand development, licensing & syndication at The New York Times, to tell us more about the history of the service, how it’s evolved over the years and how other publishers can benefit from the content it has on offer. 

The New York Times News Service and Syndicate will be at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London, from 9-11 October this year, where you will have the opportunity to meet the team, learn more about the service, discuss ideas and/or simply share thoughts on the state of the media industry.

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Above: Alice Ting, VP of brand development, licensing & syndication at The New York Times

Tell us about the origins of The New York Times News Service and Syndicate?

The New York Times News Service originated during World War I when a Times correspondent filed dispatches via cable from the front lines that came to be called the “war wire.” In the late 1940’s, the News Service expanded throughout the US, delivering its content via The Chicago Tribune Press Service; the US operation was brought in-house in the 1970’s. During that time, it was expanded into Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America and went on to become a worldwide syndication agency for brands beyond our own — thus was born The New York Times News Service & Syndicate. 

How has the service changed over the years, with specific thought to the impact of (a) new channels for storytelling and (b) new forms of storytelling?

As journalistic storytelling has evolved, we’ve developed varied ways to bring Times content to our clients. The changes are visible not only in large multimedia projects (Snowfall was one of our first), but also in the everyday report, where visual journalism, data and analytics, mobile-first content and live blogging have provided new and compelling ways to inform. At the News Service, we also package evergreen pieces that still resonate today, such as recipes, guides and how-to’s for readers in search of practical information and tips. Our aim at the News Service and Syndicate is to inform broadly, which means content in many formats and forms: in-depth analyses, briefs, bulleted and snackable lists or daily briefings, long-form journalism, visual reporting, social videos, guides and podcasts. 

Above: Video from Snowfall multimedia project

The New York Times is well known for its news journalism, but produces so much more on a day-to-day basis. For those wanting to think about working with you, (a) which types of topics are covered and (b) can you share insight on some of the most popular topics in your bouquet?

Readers come to us for more than just news — they come to us for thoughtful analysis, data, visuals and entertainment, too. We see ourselves in a service role, not only helping information seekers to understand the complexities of the day’s news, but also giving suggestions on what to see, eat, read, do and buy now. That is why the News Service and Syndicate content goes beyond the news, opinion and analysis categories and into health and wellness, food, fashion, culture, styles, technology and personal finance.

We also develop packages for special events, like the US presidential election and the Olympics. In the magazine realm, we license T: The New York Times Style Magazine, around the world in multiple languages, and we have developed an original magazine we call Turning Points, which is a year-ahead look at global issues from recognized voices and thought leaders. We also develop bespoke publications like The New York Times International Weekly, a co-branded supplement that is inserted into major publications around the world.

You also offer content from other brands as part of your overall service. Tell us more about these content providers?

We introduce The New York Times brand and content to global audiences through syndication, licensing and the creation of products and services. But we also distribute content from other editorially respected sources, such as The Harvard Business Review, National Geographic, PolitiFact, Slate, The Economist, Prospect, Worldcrunch, Der Spiegel, Martha Stewart Living, Meredith and Health Day. 

In the recent report on The New York Times’ path to 2020 (Journalism that stands apart), one of the topics under discussion is the approach to feature content – including a richer, more digital mix of journalistic forms. How will your content partners benefit from innovation in this area?

Our clients benefit from content that engages readers, attracts advertisers and helps publishers become a part of the daily habits of their readers — all of which is possible through the wide suite of products we represent. 

For example, we recently launched a print and digital Life/Style service to capture ideas and trends for smarter living — a vertical that appeals to readers looking for practical information and to advertisers wanting to be adjacent to it. The section, which can be produced as a co-branded supplement in print and online, surfaces the best and most meaningful experiences, trends, recipes, reviews, recommendations and tips. 

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Within this vertical you’ll also find a rich menu of cooking content, which provides publishers with in-depth guides and videos on mastering the fundamentals in the home kitchen. Publishers can leverage this content to build their own food sections and to create a stunning multiplatform experience — a resource that readers will turn to time and time again, making it an ideal atmosphere for advertisers. 

While on the topic of innovation, The New York Times has won several accolades for its developments in the area of virtual reality storytelling. Do you include any of this content with your services or, if not yet, are there plans to include it?

VR is very new for us. It is currently not available to clients, but we are evaluating whether and how to offer it in the future. 

From your experience working with third party content partners around the world, what lessons can you share in terms of how to think about The New York Times News Service and Syndicate content within a brand’s wider content mix? 

The New York Times News Service and Syndicate is meant to be a supplement to a client’s own content — a way to get first-class journalism and service material that an individual publisher may not be able to produce on its own. We have content in virtually any vertical you could name, and clients can choose how best to enhance their own coverage. The value of syndicated content — whether from The Times or our content providers — is providing readers with high-quality information from a diverse array of respected sources without the investment needed to produce that content in house. Publishers looking to expand coverage or create new verticals and magazines, or build out a mobile or social strategy, can strategically use syndicated content to reach new audiences and advertisers.

In which languages do you offer the service?

We offer selected content in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic.

You will be at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London in October. Tell us more about your expectations and objectives for the event?

We strongly believe that quality journalism attracts quality audiences (and, thus, advertisers) and we look forward to meeting like-minded companies that share our belief. Toward that end, please stop by our booth to chat. We are not just interested in selling; we’d also like to know more about your business and how you’re doing in this unsettling time.

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The New York Times News Service and Syndicate will be at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London, from 9-11 October this year. Meet the team there.

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