Thursday, February 6, 2014

NY Times falling

The Q4 2013 financials for the New York Times company have been released, and while the paper tries to paint a positive spin, the prospects aren't good.  Circulation revenues are down, despite a climb in digital subscriptions (attributed to heavily discounted subscription offers).  Advertising revenues in the meantime experienced the 13th consecutive quarter decline - off 6.3% over the previous year.  And more troubling is that while digital subscriptions rose, digital advertising revenues fell, suggesting that the Times isn't doing a good job of converting digital subscriptions into advertising reach.  While remaining nominally profitable, the level of operating profits fell.

If the financial news wasn't bad enough, a story in the New York Observer suggests a growing split between mainline editorial staff and the paper's leadership, particularly the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal.  The piece also suggests that the Times' editorials have lost their ability to influence local and national politics.  Some selected (anonymous) quotes from the piece:
 “I think the editorials are viewed by most reporters as largely irrelevant, and there’s not a lot of respect for the editorial page. The editorials are dull, and that’s a cardinal sin."
"What strikes me about the editorial and op-ed pages is that they have become relentlessly grim... They’re horribly doctrinaire, down the line, and that goes for the couple of conservatives in the bunch."
"The fact of the matter is the Wall Street Journal editorial page just kicks our editorial page’s ass. I mean there’s just no contest, from top to bottom, and it’s disappointing. You know, we hold ourselves to incredibly high standards on the news side... to see (mediocrity) persist and persist and persist on the editorial page with nobody having the guts to retire some of the people or things that are not only not working but have become caricatures of themselves is just a huge bummer.”

Sources - New York Times Fourth-Quarter Profit Drops on Lower Ad Sales, Bloomberg News
The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page, New York Observer

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