The New York Times will now call op-ed articles "guest essays," another sign that the Times is no longer a newspaper, but a digital media company.
In one of the most influential innovations of American journalism, the Times in the early 1970s created the "op-ed page," appearing opposite the newspaper's august editorial page.
Contrasting with the newspaper's unsigned editorials giving its institutional views, the op-ed page offered signed opinion pieces from outside writers. Newspapers around the country soon followed the Times.
Recently named opinions editor Kathleen Kingsbury explained in a note to readers Tuesday that the "op-ed" term has become obsolete as the Times turns to a digital future. The digital format does away with the separate editorial and op-ed pages of the traditional print setup.
As The Times attracts thousands of new digital subscribers and the print newspaper's readership shrinks, the "op-ed" designation has lost its relevance, Kingsbury said.
The term "guest essay" suggests a move away from the free-wheeling marketplace of ideas envisioned by the late Times journalist Harrison Salisbury when he created the op-ed format.
For years, the Times opened the page to unsolicited articles that ran alongside columns by Times writers like Russell Baker and William Safire.
The "guest" label sounds as if the Times will requisition more articles, bringing more corporate influence over opinion pieces.
Perhaps the Times will do away with the newspaper title too. The news screen?