• June 3, 2016

    In Vanity Fair, Sarah Ellison has a story on the future of the New York Times, as the paper tries to cope with declining revenue and the industry’s shift to digital media. The Times offered a round of buyouts in May and layoffs are said to be imminent. In the meantime, Times executives are investing in future-leaning—and possibly money-making—ventures like podcasting, virtual reality, and a meal-delivery service linked to the paper’s recipe pages. Ellison’s take is bleak: It begins with a longtime print editor weeping and ends by noting that executive editor Dean Baquet has said “the Times of the future will no longer be the paper of record on everything, but only in the areas it can afford to be.”

    Tribune Publishing Co.—parent company of the Los Angeles Times and many other dailies—is also trying to address the bleak state of the news business by rebranding itself as “tronc” (short for Tribune online content). The new name reflects a new strategy, which, judging by the robotic-sounding press release, will rely less on temperamental human journalists and more on machine overlords: “Our transformation strategy . . .  is focused on leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the user experience and better monetize our world-class content in order to deliver personalized content to our 60 million monthly users.” Tribune has been busy fighting off a takeover bid from newspaper-chain rival Gannett, so it’s understandable if they haven’t been totally focused on the rebranding effort. Still, if the derisive reaction on social media is an indication, they probably should have tested the new name at least a little bit.

    Douglas Wolk

    Douglas Wolk

    Archeologists in London have disinterred hundreds of bits of wood etched with Latin, among them the oldest-known handwritten document in Britain, dated 57 CE: an IOU for 105 denarii from one freed slave to another. It was discovered in the City—London’s financial district—during excavations for Bloomberg’s new HQ.

    Douglas Wolk (author of Reading Comics) has started a Tumblr page devoted to his book-in-progress, All of the Marvels, which will document, among other things, his reading of more than 500,000 pages of Marvel comics.