Is The New York Times In Trouble?


First announcing their web site will go from free to a pay site, now the announced staff reduction of 190 people has me wondering if the New York Times is in trouble. Seeing these two moves has me wondering if the apple is rotten on the inside? When the Times goes behind the pay wall, it will take a hit to its prestige, and also to its pocketbook. I doubt subscriptions will increase revenue no matter what the bright eyed and bushy tailed marketing folks powerpoint presentations say. 

I have the distinct feeling, and this is only a feeling, that the power and prestige of the daily newspapers on a national level is about to go into a steep decline. And I am not limiting that to the New York Times.  

From Editor and Publisher:

The New York Times Co. will shed 190 employees, mostly at its flagship newspaper, the company announced Wednesday.

In a statement, the company said the reductions will include “fewer than two dozen” employees in The New York Times newsroom. About two-thirds of the reductions will occur at the Times, with the rest coming from the company’s New England Media Group, which includes The Boston Globe.

“Given the current challenges in the advertising at the Times and the Globe and the cloudy economic outlook for the remainder of the year, we believed it was prudent to accelerate these ongoing cost control efforts.”

The Times Co. said it had not yet calculated how big a charge against earning it will have to take because of the staff reduction. It said it will likely make the size of that charge public at the Mid-Year Media Review in June.

Jeff Jarvis had a post over the weekend that discussed the issues that the big media will be facing, and advice on how to address them.

Here is an excerpt:

Death to commodified news: As an industry, we waste a fortune manhandling the same commodified news everybody already knows. But it’s more than just a waste; it drags us down into an oppressive sameness. We all got overdosed on Schaivovision and Popevision and Bridevision. The programmers behind the cable news networks were afraid not to blanket those stories because their competitors were blanketing them. But by that act, they made themselves the same as their competitors, they turned themselves into commodities. Breaking away from the pack is extremely difficult and risky, but every news outlet needs to have a unique voice and value or it will get lost in a crowd.

Similarly, newspapers and their audiences would be best served concentrating on what they do best: local, local, local. If they gave us the local news that no one else could gather and report, they’d be worth more to us. But this, too, is a hard habit to break: not sending the 15,001st correspondent to the political conventions, not editing the already edited AP report, not printing the stock tables….

: Death to the masses: One-size-fits-all news was a product of the mass market and the mass market was an aberration brought on by a scarcity and thus hegemony of broadcast channels which, in turn, led to a scarcity of newspaper choices. The internet explodes the mass market and brings the press back to its natural state of choice. So does it still make sense to print those stock tables — costing, say, $1 million a year in paper and ink — when only a small portion of the audience still uses them? Can you afford to let those readers go — on the off chance that they do cancel their subscriptions; can you afford not to? In the old mass-market days, you put a little of this and a little of that in your product to serve everyone, in little ways. Now maybe it makes more sense to have separate products — news, sports, entertainment, lifestyle, business — to serve those audiences in big ways… and serve targeted and efficient advertising as a result. The transition would be painful, in some cases fatal, but this is where the audience is now heading online.

Jeff has gone out on his own, with the company so well named BuzzMachine LLC. He also will be consulting with, a subsidiary of the New York Times. I wonder if they listened to Jeff and are preparing for the big shake out.

Posted May 25, 2005 by
General, Media | no comments

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