Photo credit : Eric Franzon

Photo credit : Eric Franzon

In the winter of 2012, The New York Times began its implementation of the schema.org compatible version of rNews, a standard for embedding machine-readable publishing metadata into HTML documents, to improve the quality and appearance of its search results, as well as generate more traffic through algorithmically generated links. The semantic markup for news articles brought to its web pages structured data properties to define author, the date a work was created, its editor, headline, and so on.

But according to a leaked New York Times internal innovation report that appears here, there’s more work to be done in the structured data realm as part of a grand plan to truly put digital first in the face of falling website and smartphone app readership and hotter competition from both old guard and new age newsrooms and social media properties that are transforming how journalism is delivered for an audience increasingly invested in mobile, social, and personalized technologies.

The report was put together with insights from parties including Evan Sandhaus, director for search, archives and semantics at The NY Times, who was instrumental in the rNews/schema.org effort as well as the TimesMachine relaunch, a digital archive of 46,592 issues of The New York Times whose use includes surrounding current news stories with context. While the report notes that the Gray Lady has not been standing still in the face of its challenges, citing newsroom advances to grow audience with efforts such as using data to inform decisions, it needs to do more – faster – to make it easy to get its content in front of digital readers.

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