The world's most important newspaper publishes the world's most essential newspaper website. And it does so with an ever-increasing pace of innovation. Over the past year, nytimes.com has focused on deepening its connection with readers through elegant multimedia service (e.g., "Thanksgiving: A User's Manual"), community-generated slide shows ("After the Storm: Reader Photos"), immersive interactive features ("Reviving Ground Zero"), maps that come to life ("Stop, Question and Frisk," which plotted where police stopped and questioned passersby in New York neighborhoods) and even off-site initiatives that drive traffic back to the mothership (e.g., the Times food page just launched on Facebook).
Nytimes.com has found a way to strike a note of inclusiveness -- and openness to surfacing news and information through non-traditional channels -- while never wavering in its professionalism or compromising brand values. More than 30 million unique monthly users in the U.S. alone depend on nytimes.com. As it rolls out its announced paywall strategy in 2011, we can only hope that the paper's tradition of smart digital innovation sets additional new standards -- and creates workable new business models -- for the newspaper industry.