The New York Times API: All the News That's Fit to Mix

John Musser
Jun. 10 2008, 01:42AM EDT

As first reported in mediabistro, The New York Times is planning to release an API sometime this summer. The goal, as editor of interactive news Aron Pilhofer put it, is to "make the NYT programmable. Everything we produce should be organized data."

The Yahoo Developers Network has an interview with CTO of Digital Operations Marc Frons that reveals more of the details of this effort. Most of his responses about the technology, scale, and licensing of the API show that the Times will start with the basics and grow as they learn what works. Some highlights:

  • different levels of API access to different types of content (not full-text retrieval on all content)
  • some restriction on number of requests per time period
  • read-only access to start with, read-write later
  • multiple formats (XML,RSS,serialized PHP,JSON)
  • not decided yet on supporting OpenID
  • usage tracking and a developer network

While the editors will continue to decide on presentation and placement of the Times stories, not influenced by clicks or voting of readers, some new social features are coming. Although Frons told mediabistro "we don't want to be Facebook," he does say that there will be more user-generated content and that the Times is "interested in giving our readers alternative views and having them share their activities on our site. We'll be releasing some new features around sharing news and information very soon."

Data mashups should be possible for outside developers in about six months, with platforms built internally on the API in specific areas: events, books, restaurant reviews, and recipes, with more to follow.

Mediaguardian blogger Jemima Kiss in the U.K. points out that the Telegraph and the Guardian have both made moves to open developer programs, with the Guardian hiring former Yahoo Developer Network director Matt McAlister. We're sure to see more innovation in the news business as its core revenue base continues to shrink and focus shifts to the online versions.

John Musser

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