veteran journalist John Burns flew back from Iraq, where he runs the New York Times's Baghdad bureau, to deliver an impassioned speech to investors at the invitation of the title's publisher, Arthur 'Pinch' Sulzberger.
Burns is distinguished
With a career behind him, including a Pulitzer prize, few are better placed to speak about journalism than Burns, an Englishman who is held in high regard by his peers. The theme of his address, say sources at the paper, was the importance of investing heavily in editorial, even though profits at the group are falling and circulation of its flagship paper has stagnated. Despite a nationwide sales drive, circulation has risen by only 20,000 in nine years. Other papers have seen their sales fall, but advertising at the paper has collapsed, and its commercial future looks cloudy.
Why does the NYT matter?
The fact that the New York Times is a bastion of liberal values gives the tussle added piquancy. This is a battle of ideas as well as a straightforward disagreement over strategy.
Darwinism enters our media ecology
Between 2000 and 2005, about 18 per cent of all broadband households in the US terminated their newspaper subscriptions, according to research from investment bank Citigroup. It estimates that by 2010, that figure will rise to 35 per cent. If broadband penetration rises to Scandinavian levels, as seems likely, overall US newspaper circulation could fall by a further 2.7 per cent
This goes back to our point in the book that advertising is no longer sustainable as a traditional business model.
The rest of the article explores the relationship between investors and those that run the various news media in a tradtional format.
Unfortunately, when times become hard principles do seem to fly out of the window.
Companies are only prepared to embrace change, that is structural, when the cashflow hemorrhage's beyond the point of no return.
Many media companies are at this point.