Will The NY Times Still Have A Print Edition In Five Years?

from the history-repeating dept

Looking ahead, there’s little doubt that newspapers face rather uncertain future. The painful changes brought on by the internet have been exacerbated by some really foolish decisions on the part of the industry. Of all of the newspapers, perhaps none has been more visible in its struggles than the New York Times. Not only is the company doing poorly from a financial standpoint, but its strategy of locking up its best content behind a paywall has proven to be a disappointment. At the recent World Economic Forum, the company’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, sat down for an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, during which he discusses, with surprising candor, the future of the paper (via Threadwatch). On the surface, it sounds like Sulzberger is prepared to do what it takes to embrace the internet. He said that he doesn’t know or care whether the company will still be publishing a print edition in five years, but that the company’s current mission won’t be complete until the last print edition is printed. He also recognizes that newspapers should be able to benefit from the economics of the internet, noting how little it costs to publish online, compared to print. But at the same time, it sounds like Sulzberger is still basically a believer in the TimesSelect model, as he insisted that in the future all readers will have to pay to read the Times online. As for why readers would opt to pay to read the Times, when there are so many sources of news out there, he said the paper can be a trusted “curator” of the news. Ultimately, the impression one gets from reading the interview is that the Times is happy to embrace the internet, so long as it’s on its own terms, and the core business model remains the same. It still wants to get paid the same way, and it hopes that its 155 years of history as the paper of record will allow it remain a trusted source of news. Cast in this light, the rhetoric about one day abandoning the print edition doesn’t really sound so radical.

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Comments on “Will The NY Times Still Have A Print Edition In Five Years?”

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Geoffrey Kidd (profile) says:

"Trusted" source of news?

Let’s see, this is the same trusted newspaper that sat on the story of Stalin’s “genocide by starvation” in the Ukraine. Mocked and reviled Dr. Robert Goddard (the developer of liquid-fuel rocketry) as “not knowing basic physics.” And has spent a huge chunk of the past 155 years running roughshod over any inconvenient facts that don’t fit into whatever ideology it has embraced.

“Trusted”? Feh!

a says:

When will this place finally get the picture? It’s the content that has value, not the format. The New York Times will be able to charge people to read their content because they hire writers that people want to read. It sure as hell isn’t because someone wants a paper.

Any organization that has good writers will be able to charge people for the content. People will pay becaue the “many new sources of news” that is out there is typically bullshit.

The creators of EPIC may have had it right, in the future, all news will be personalized, tailored to individuals regardless of facts and superficial.

Ted Goas (user link) says:

Re: Content We Want

Who wants to pay for content (online or offline) when so much is already free? In keeping with Epic, news will be what we want to hear, even if it’s bullshit. If the Times’ keeps charging for content, it might narrow down their audience to the elite and elderly, a very small population who relies on the one source for reliable, well written information.

bblinx (user link) says:


If micropayments became readily available (e.g., built into the web browser), then the pay-per-view model could develop and replace the current subscription model. It seems that there is plenty of content that people would be willing to pay for, as long as the price is low enough (e.g., $0.02 per view) and the payment is convenient enough.

Solo says:

I disagree, it is the format.

Paper based news is portable, does not require batteries, internet or any thechnology. People are used to buy it from the newsstand, or find it on their front door in the morning.

Forcing your existing readership off the paper and to the web may cause the forementioned readership to wonder “Gee, there’s already too much free info on the web, why pay for the narrow view of the NYT?”

And everyone hops to news.google.com and NYT files for chap 7.

a says:

Shallow thinking people. Where the hell do you think the news comes from? It comes from reporters and journalists that are paid by organizations. If those organizations go out of business, guess what? Those good writers and reporters have to find a different line of work. Then where will the Google News aggrigator be? Where will they get the articles?

AP, Dow Jones? All of these feeds charge money.

People work for newspapers and good publications because they are good writers and they expect to be paid for their talent.

Tyshaun says:

I can't believe how myopic you folks can be...

The NY times is basically “the standard” of print media. I’m not saying it isn’t biased, but tell me any news outlet that isn’t. That being said, I have a lot of friends who live abroad and most of them have subscriptions to the NY times as a way of “staying plugged in” to what’s going on in the US.

I think sometimes techDirt forgets the fact that humans functioned long before the internet and the internet will become like every other technology, molded to the wants of those in power, and that’s not the average user. The internet will become a casualty of its own success, as we are already starting to see. As more and more people use it, it will become more and more regulated, which means that those who shape and control lawmaking have the power. History has shown this time and time again. I’m not saying this is what I want, I just prefer to be a realist about such things.

As it was already pointed out, even the much loved Google news service is basically an aggregate of a bunch of other news services. If you want my prediction for the future, once these companies start seeing their profit margins shrink and realize that online ads won’t pay the bills in a saturated marketspace, they will take steps to lock things down even more (sorry, don’t think they will “innovate” as we like to throw the word around so much) and the only recourse we will have is to boo-hoo about how wrong they are and how they are doomed.

So let’s not confuse naive wishful thinking with the reality of the world. Until serious reporters move to exclusively online venues (and not these quasi-serious bloggers who put themselves out as writers but the minute they are called on their crap hide behind the “we are just blogging” garbage), I’ll keep my subscription to the times.

TrickyNy says:

3 versions

You make a good point there A. The New Republic has 2 subscription models. A print issue delivered weekly through the mail, and a PDF version that costs half as much delivered to your email.

The Times should do three versions,
a print one (that costs the most),
a pdf version (same as the print edition but a lot cheaper) which is scalable for smaller screens blackberry, palm, etc. but still works on normal screens,
And a free online version thats totally supported by ads.

Im a jourlanism student, and my professors insist that we all read the Times every day. I dont get it delivered b/c it just gets stolen from my lobby, but i dont like the feel of clicking through links to browse.

I would be willing to pay for a PDF version so i could read it on my tablet on the subway and not have to accidentally smack other passengers when I turn the page.

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