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The New York Times Re-Thinks The Living Room of the Future

New York Times R&D Group: Moving the news into your living room from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.

In a push to regain favor with advertisers and Wall Street analysts, The New York Times has been aggressively pushing its unique vision for "The Living Room of the Future." In fact, CEO Janet Robinson has been increasingly putting members of her R&D team front-and-center as she meets with advertisers and ad agency executives. Her goal is to convince them, first, that the New York Times has figured out the whole Internet thing and, secondly, to lock down new advertising deals. This being earnings season and all that, the Wall Street Journal recently took a closer look at what the future holds for the New York Times:

"On a recent morning, Michael Zimbalist, Times Co.'s vice president of research and development operations, acted as guide on a typical tour through the company's lab on the 28th floor of the Times building. The tour is centered on what Mr. Zimbalist calls a "living room of the future," a small room with a brown couch, a large flat-screen TV and four smaller screens on another wall.

The set-up is designed to mimic how a reader will be able to receive Times content sent using various technologies including RSS feeds and Twitter. In a demonstration, a staffer receives a Twitter message from a friend recommending a video from Times food writer Mark Bittman. Mr. Zimbalist touched the recommendation on one screen and dragged it to the flat-screen TV, which plays the video. A recipe associated with the video then appeared on Mr. Zimbalist's iPhone with an ad for a nearby Whole Foods store.

Mr. Zimbalist said the room is a vision set 12 to 18 months into the future for how New York Times content will be distributed and experienced."


Ever since the 1970s, of course, people have been discussing the "living room of the future." (Try Binging "living room of the future" and see how many results pop up!) What's fascinating about the approach by the New York Times is how the vision is being driven by a "content" company rather than a "technology" company. Slowly but surely, the New York Times is transforming itself from a text news company to a true multimedia news company.

For more videos about the New York Times R&D team and the future of news & advertising, check out this excellent five-part video series from the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University.

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