Improving Our Video Experience

Part Three: Accessibility


Illustration by Jason Fujikuni

This is the third and final post in a series about the progress and achievements of our video delivery platform. The previous posts are Part One: Our On-Demand Video Platform and Part Two: Our Live Streaming Platform.

Improving the accessibility of the video experience on our web properties was one of our main goals for 2017. In this post, we will talk about how we built closed captions support into our video delivery platform and how we made the control set on our video player more accessible. Continue reading “Improving Our Video Experience”

Thinking Like Entrepreneurs: Our Experience with Matter, a Design-Thinking VC Program

By Hannah Cassius, John Thai and Ben Solwitz

One of our co-workers sent us an email asking if we wanted to be a part of “The Matter Bootcamp”. She explained it as a design thinking workshop, meant to support both entrepreneurs in the media space and larger media companies (like The New York Times) in developing ideas to build a more informed, empathetic and inclusive society. Continue reading “Thinking Like Entrepreneurs: Our Experience with Matter, a Design-Thinking VC Program”

In a Confusing World, Context is Key — A Times Intern Sets Out to Improve Search Results

Illustration by Kevin Zweerink for The New York Times

The past few years have seen the rise of “context-aware” systems: technologies that can predict your intentions based on information about your environment. If you ask Google’s intelligent personal assistant, “How tall is that building?” it will use your phone’s GPS to see what buildings are near you and guess which building you are asking about. Or, if you add “pick up milk” to the Reminders app on your iPhone, you can choose to have the app remind you the next time you are within a block of a grocery store. Continue reading “In a Confusing World, Context is Key — A Times Intern Sets Out to Improve Search Results”

Develop Your Culture Like Software

Recently, I tried out a new talk at La Victoria Lab’s innovation festival in Lima where I covered an experiment we have been engaging in, somewhat by chance, at The New York Times: working on our culture like it was software. I’m not sure how the talk went over, but personally, I think we are onto something good and novel at The Times.

Nick Rockwell/The New York Times

The story I told at the FEST was about how my team and I have gone about trying to impact the tech culture at The New York Times. It should be obvious to my readers why we want to work on the culture: we want to be better — better environment, better capability, better talent, better decisions and better results. Focusing on the team is the leverage point for all of those things, and culture is the leverage point on the team. As I put it in my talk, the benevolent laziness of the software engineer led us straight to culture. Continue reading “Develop Your Culture Like Software”

Finding the Parallels Between Improv Comedy and Product Management

“No, it’s not possible. There are a million reasons why we can’t build that feature you want. The tech stack doesn’t support it and it’s just not doable.”

As product managers, we’ve all heard or said this. When an idea comes along, whether it be through marketing, design, product, etc., it’s easy to fall into the trap of saying no and saying why something won’t work. We’re trained to do it: to protect our team’s time, to defend our prioritized roadmaps, and to avoid another headache of scrambling in the weeds. Continue reading “Finding the Parallels Between Improv Comedy and Product Management”

Publishing with Apache Kafka at The New York Times

At The New York Times we have a number of different systems that are used for producing content. We have several Content Management Systems, and we use third-party data and wire stories. Furthermore, given 161 years of journalism and 21 years of publishing content online, we have huge archives of content that still need to be available online, that need to be searchable, and that generally need to be available to different services and applications. Continue reading “Publishing with Apache Kafka at The New York Times”

SRCCON Recap: Developing New Live Coverage Story Formats


Six generations of New York Times live coverage story forms.

The Times uses many different page layouts and media in our report. Of course this includes articles, our essential story form, but we also spend significant resources and time supporting other important forms: photos, slideshows, video, audio, interactives, story collections and much more. Continue reading “SRCCON Recap: Developing New Live Coverage Story Formats”

From Bootstrap to CSS Grid

Despite many clever hacks and creative workarounds, there hasn’t been a simple answer for creating layout on the web. From misusing tables, to over-engineering simple floats that push around content, developers have consistently struggled to translate designs to code. Developers have been saying for years that there has to be a better way to create responsive websites, and finally, there is: CSS Grid, a proper layout tool for the web baked right into CSS itself, is here. It’s fantastic! It’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for! And yet, it seems to me that developers are hesitating. What’s the hold up? Continue reading “From Bootstrap to CSS Grid”

Register: Better In App Billing Testing on Android

Illustration by Kevin Zweerink

Google Play Store’s In-app Billing API makes purchases and subscriptions easy. In just a few calls, your app can purchase items and subscriptions, verify previous purchases, etc. However, at The New York Times we ran into limitations while following Google’s recommended practices for testing our app’s use of the Billing API. Continue reading “Register: Better In App Billing Testing on Android”

ABRA: An enterprise framework for experimentation at The Times


Systematic experimentation — in the form of A/B and multivariate testing — has fast become embedded in the workflow and culture of teams across The New York Times: Product teams test new features; newsroom editors test the framing of individual stories; and marketing tests to learn what it takes to turn casual visitors into subscribers. Continue reading “ABRA: An enterprise framework for experimentation at The Times”

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