How the New York Times is Using Reddit to Connect its Editors to Audiences

When it comes to numbers, most online media outlets are primarily concerned with subscriptions and web hits. When a story goes viral, it starts to send all kind of numbers back to the media outlet that shows just how far the story went. But the problem is that all of those numbers do not really tell the outlet why the story took off. According to, the New York Times believes it can use Reddit’s article sharing platform to fill in information that the numbers do not reveal.

What Could Be More Important Than Numbers?

According to, the New York Times is not abandoning the collection of analytical numbers that trace how many times an article has been viewed or shared. Instead, the Times is trying to understand its readers better and get an organic feeling for why content becomes popular. The Times also believes that it can create stories its readers are more interested in by comparing the numbers to what people are actually saying about those articles on Reddit.

The Reddit Process

One thing the Times has learned about Reddit is that it does not work like other content sharing platforms. For example, the Times could post an article on Facebook and then track its progress as it gets shared, liked, and commented on. But the people who use Reddit do not appreciate being treated like test subjects and generally do not react very well to planted content. Instead, the Times is using software to track any instance of one of its articles getting activity and then using that to gauge the article’s reach.

The process starts whenever a Times article is shared or receives a comment from someone on Reddit. The software alerts the editor from the article’s department and, if appropriate, the journalist who wrote the article. Then the Times can determine who is sharing their content, what they are saying about it, and why it is being shared. This is all real information that the numbers cannot indicate, but yet helps to give a much clearer picture of the audience that is utilizing the content.

Reddit Can Help Dictate Content

How can the Times’ experiment with Reddit help other online publishers? By following the articles that get action on Reddit, the Times’ journalists can see what topics people are interested in and then start generating more content in those areas. This process can also help the Times to predict content trends that the volume of numbers that are collected may not predict.

For other online content publishers, the Times’ experiment with Reddit should be something worth replicating for several reasons. For one thing, publishers can see what readers are actually saying about content and then make decisions for their own content based on what the audience wants. Online publishers can also gauge what is happening with their own content and use that information, along with the analytical data, to develop content that readers will actually want to read and, more importantly, share with others.

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