January 14, 2005

The Gray Lady's Dilemma

A Business Week look at the New York Times highlights the paper's many business difficulties. Here's a sample:

What's a platform agnostic to do? The New York Times, like all print publications, faces a quandary. A majority of the paper's readership now views the paper online, but the company still derives 90% of its revenues from newspapering. "The business model that seems to justify the expense of producing quality journalism is the one that isn't growing, and the one that is growing -- the Internet -- isn't producing enough revenue to produce journalism of the same quality," says John Battelle, a co-founder of Wired and other magazines and Web sites.

The paper has tried to attract more readers by what I think is tedious, endless coverage of "who cares?" aspects of the culture, but its circulation has become diffuse even in New York City as a result.

It's contemplating charging for its website, which is profitable. Turning it into a subscription site will kill it.

There's much more here on what may be insoluble dilemmas.

I, for one, stopped taking the paper. Here's why:

  • Egregious political bias.

  • Price.

  • It took up too much of my time.

  • It was replaceable, both by online material and the local paper.

  • I threw away large parts of it, especially the tedious and pretentious cultural and consumption sections.

  • You can get double crostics on line for much less money, and the Timesonly prints them every other Sunday.

Truth be told, like any recovering addict, I sometimes miss my drug. More on the beginnings of my Gray Lady sobriety here.

The whole Business Week article is worth reading, for a look at the rapidly shrinking world of Legacy Media.

Update: spelling error corrected.

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