After podcasts, The New York Times hits television with ‘The Weekly’

The New York Times has set a target of raising subscriptions in print and digital from 4.5 million today to 10 million in 2025. (AFP/Getty pic)

NEW YORK: After transforming the podcast essay format with “The Daily,” The New York Times is set to take a stab at television with a new show premiering on Sunday that will follow its journalists as they report in the field.

“The Weekly” will be broadcast on FX and distributed online via Hulu, aiming to cover major stories but also to show viewers the behind-the-scenes struggles and calculations that go into producing its journalism.

The first show planned by The Times as part of its expansion into television, it also represents the outlet’s latest bid to diversify amid declining revenues for American newspapers.

“Audiences want to know, who are these reporters telling me these stories? How do they know what they know? How do they confirm it?” Sam Dolnick, the assistant managing editor in charge of the newspaper’s video and audio projects, told AFP.

“We think that a level of transparency makes the stories themselves more compelling,” he said.

Broadening the audience

Since its launch in 2017, listenership of “The Daily” has risen to an average of two million per episode, making it one of the ten most popular podcasts in the United States.

While The Times employs video journalists, Dolnick said they weren’t involved in the television show which was made jointly with production company Left/Right and which the Times has already sold overseas.

Each episode of “The Weekly” lasts about 30 minutes and follows journalists through their reporting process, showing the behind-the-scenes of a story that has typically already run in print.

The premier follows a reporter investigating the dubious methods of a school in Louisiana that sends disadvantaged students to some of the best universities in the country.

“The big motivation for this show was to help stories bring journalism to people who may not read the New York Times, to broaden our audience and help more and more people understand what we think are important issues that the public needs to grapple with,” Dolnick said.

Online outlets Buzzfeed and Vice have produced similar television shows but “The Weekly” is the first by a major American newspaper.

While declining to discuss financial details of their arrangement with FX and Hulu, a spokesman for the newspaper called the show “a significant investment for The Times.”

The newspaper has set a target of raising subscriptions in print and digital from 4.5 million today to 10 million in 2025.

The Times also plans to launch other television projects, among them a fictionalized adaptation for Amazon’s streaming platform of the popular “Modern Love” column, in which readers relate stories about relationships.

Another documentary series in the works for Netflix is called “Diagnosis,” based on the column of the same name where readers are enlisted to help solve undiagnosed medical cases.