The Great New York Times Website Blackout of 2013: A Twitter Oral History

A news site crashes, a social media community snarks.

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A little before lunchtime, one beautiful summer day, visitors to the New York Times website were met with this troublesome error message.

The website was down, other outlets soon reported, as was its internal email services. The news and tech community had no choice but to turn to Twitter in order to express their fear and anxiety over being deprived the Times's compelling stories about the discovery of Brooklyn and Millennial hook up culture. Frustration soon turned to humor, with anyone with a keyboard and an Internet connection using the opportunity to take a light-hearted, 140-character swipe at The Grey Lady.

GUYS, NYTimes dot com is down, so The Times is not ON IT.

— The Times Is On It (@NYTOnIt) August 14, 2013


— Nick Greene (@NickGreene) August 14, 2013

There were jokes about the website's layout (and its competitor NPR's site redesign).

Love the new layout. So simple. Clean.

— Eric Lach (@ericlach) August 14, 2013

The NYTimes Website right now has taken the need for "more white space" a little too literally.

— Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) August 14, 2013 is down the instant's redesign is up! Coincidence? Or the best evil scheme ever? #nprlaunch

— Eric Westby (@ewestby) August 14, 2013

There were jokes about the Times's signature headline phrasing.

For website, a period of unforeseen downtime

— Matthew Zeitlin (@MattZeitlin) August 14, 2013

In New York, A Broken Newspaper Website

— Jeffrey Young (@JeffYoung) August 14, 2013

On a Website, A 404 Error

— delrayser (@delrayser) August 14, 2013

On Twitter, the Same Comma Joke

— Paul Werdel (@prwerdel) August 14, 2013

There were Obama jokes.

Obama's America

— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) August 14, 2013

#NObama RT @SabrinaSiddiqui: Who killed the NYTimes?

— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) August 14, 2013

And jokes connecting it to every other media story this week, including (in order of most to least importance) the Jeff Bezos Washington Post purchase,

What, you thought Jeff Bezos was going to buy the Post and play defense?

— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) August 14, 2013

the launch of Bustle,

Thank GOD the womenfolk have Bustle while the New York Times is down!

— Rakesh Satyal (@rakeshsatyal) August 14, 2013
and Brian Stelter's omnipresence.

Click through to,: "Oh hey, this site isn't working?" Guy next to me: "Actually it is. I'm Brian Stelter."

— Myles Tanzer (@mylestanzer) August 14, 2013

And remember print newspapers, guys?

My @nytimes website crash back-up plan --

— Nolan Hicks (@ndhapple) August 14, 2013

This would be a good time to be an NYT print subscriber.

— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) August 14, 2013

'Throwback Wednesdays' at the NYT continues, in which customers have to actually buy the paper and reporters must use the Yellow Pages.

— Dan Frosch (@djfroschNYT) August 14, 2013

Of course, some tried to do some serious reporting, with Fox News calling it a cyberattack.

Breaking: Website of @NYTimes is under #cyber attack, source tells @FoxBusiness - $NYT #DDoS

— Matt Egan (@MattMEgan5) August 14, 2013

But the New York Times said that the crash likely came from an internal glitch...

We believe the outage is the result of an internal issue, which we expect to be resolved soon. (2/3)

— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 14, 2013

...which led to more jokes.

Apparently Times outage is not a cyberattack. Meaning Fox News is wrong. Shockingly.

— Henry Fountain (@henryfountain) August 14, 2013

Soon enough, the site slowly began working again. But America will never be the same after the Great Blackout of 2013. Never forget.

Looks like has returned. But remember those few glorious hours when no one could tweet that George Saunders speech.

— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 14, 2013

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