Just two days ago the Times announced the launch of TimesCast, a daily Web video that would give viewers an insight into their esteemed newsroom. It's great Web-era thinking: we've got these bright people having these conversations every day, why not turn that into content? I love it.
And it's monetizable content, too - TimesCasts already have a major corporate sponsor.* But then there's this baffling decision: TimesCasts can only be viewed between 1pm and 2pm Eastern time. I should expect that this would go without saying but the Web isn't television. Why on Earth should users have to conform to anyone else's schedule when all the other content on the Web is available on-demand?
This dichotomy of forward-thinking ideas and self-sabotaging implementation is standard practice for the Times. On one hand, they've built an enviably large network of excellent New York Times blogs whose content never appears in the print edition - that's the act of an old media company that's serious about transitioning to the Web. On the other hand, they're less than a year away from putting all that great content behind a paywall and cutting it off completely from the viral Web.
There's got to be a Romulus-and-Remus struggle about how to handle Web content happening at the Times: each side reading the portents differently and fighting for their own interpretation. If TimesCast's implementation is any indicator, I think the wrong side is winning.
*Disclosure: the sponsor is a client of Ketchum, my employer. I have no connection with their sponsorship of TimesCast, however.