The section will feature a mix of new posts and stories from the New Yorker’s archives, while the blog, called “Elements,” will bring fresh tech and science-focused content to the site on a daily basis. The blog will include a photo of the day, links to classic New Yorker stories about science and technology, and a weekly piece on an “Object of Interest,” which will tell the story behind an important object in tech or science.
The first day of content on “Elements” includes a post by Ken Auletta on the next revolution in phones, Michael Specter on whether or not we should be able to patent genes, Maria Bustillos on Bitcoin and the world economy, and Joshua Rothman on the history of science and technology writing in the New Yorker.
The science and technology section comes two months after the New Yorker announced the hire of Matt Buchanan, former tech editor at BuzzFeed, to help run the vertical. He’ll have a post up today about smart watches for the first “Object of Interest” entry. While many media industry watchers considered Buchanan an unconventional pick for the New Yorker, NewYorker.com editor Nick Thompson said the hire was simply a case of “best man for the job.” Buchanan, Thompson said, is a smart thinker and a good writer and editor. “We didn’t go out there saying we need a young social media star.”
Thompson also said that the new vertical is an indication that technology as a subject matter is growing and is a bigger part of our lives than it used to be, but it’s also being brought in because the NewYorker.com hasn’t had a place where technology coverage naturally fits. “We felt like science and technology is something the New Yorker has always done well,” Thompson said, while initially the site divided much of its content into two sections: “News” and “Culture.”
The new section is not just a matter of categorization. The publication will likely be asking its staff writers to write more about technology and science while also soliciting more freelance contributions on the topics, Thompson said. While it wasn’t conceived of as a way to attract new kinds of advertisers to the publication, he said, the vertical is launching with Siemens as its exclusive sponsor.
While it got off to a slow start, he New Yorker’s website has doubled in traffic in the last year, registering 9.6 million unique visitors in January. The science and technology vertical arrives after a slew of new additions in the last 12 months, including the Political Scene hub, the Health Care hub, the Humor Channel, the Page-Turner blog, a revamped Photo Booth blog, the Daily Cartoon feature, and a blog based on its archives called Double Take.
The spate of new verticals and increased investment in the NewYorker.com prove the publication is placing considerably more emphasis on its digital products, which continue to diverge from the print magazine and live as almost entirely separate products. While some of the print magazine’s articles are available for free online, many, such as this week’s profile of Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget, are available only in print. Thompson said there are also plans to release more New Yorker apps, but they are on no set schedule as of yet.