New York Times Time-Lapse Video
Phillip Mendonça-Vieira indavertainly collected 12,000 screenshots of the New York Times website from September 2010 to July 2011. Here’s a video of the result:
He argues that we’ve lost something with the move from print to the Web:
Having worked with and developed on a number of content management systems I can tell you that as a rule of thumb no one is storing their frontpage layout data. It’s all gone, and once newspapers shutter their physical distribution operations I get this feeling that we’re no longer going to have a comprehensive archive of how our news-sources of note looked on a daily basis. Archive.org comes close, but there are too many gaps to my liking.
This, in my humble opinion, is a tragedy because in many ways our frontpages are summaries of our perspectives and our preconceptions. They store what we thought was important, in a way that is easy and quick to parse and extremely valuable for any future generations wishing to study our time period.
There’s no denying this. Indeed, major news websites change many times a day–and even individual stories sometimes have multiple iterations. We’re losing one form of historical archiving that existed for a couple centuries.
I hasten to add: We’re gaining much more than we’re losing.
People are no longer prisoner of the local paper. No matter where you live in the country–or, indeed, the world–you can get access to the finest reporting anywhere. While paywalls are making it more difficult, those with the time and inclination can peruse the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Times of London, Spiegel, and whathaveyou whenever they please.
Thanks to aggregators, we don’t even have to visit their home pages. Thanks to infinite storage and amazing search technology, we’re not limited to whichever edition happens to be on the newsstands, either.