New York Times Print Edition Dead?

Arthur Sulzberger Jr. Publisher of The New York Times


“I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care, either”  

WOW. Every once in a while you hear a quote that crystallizes the massive power of the Internet and you are breathless. No print edition of The New York Times? “Internet is a wonderful place to be and we’re leading there,” Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the Times, told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Maybe Arthur Jr. was breathing the heady air of Davos, where he granted that rare interview, or maybe he is feeling the pressure of that aging Aussie Murdoch grabbing the Internet media visionary lead with MySpace. The Times now has more readers online, 1.5 million a day, than the print newspaper, without the huge capital expense of expanding its printing operation. Sulzberger is betting that The New York Times reader, developed with Microsoft, will be a big hit. The Times reader feeds you a digitial representation of the print edition, with ease of navigation, searching, and video capabilities, and can be transported through handheld devices. Sulzberger said “we live in the Internet world.”  He’s betting on it.

The New York Times reader developed with Microsoft

The newspaper’s profits have been declining for four years, Haaretz reported, and the company last week acknowledged taking a $570 million loss because of write-offs and losses at the Boston Globe, which it owns. The great majority of Times profits are derived from its print newspapers and Sulzberger is grabbing for future revenue potential from digital media. He is contemplating charging for the Times reader, now offered free in beta.

A year or so ago newspapers began embracing the idea of the “citizen journalist” with comments submitted by readers. The Times has a rapidly expanding blogger media staff, as does The Washington Post and most other major newspapers. Still, it is astounding to see how rapidly and radically traditional media – we’re talking about the Gray Old Lady – is being forced to adapt to the democratization of information and opinion through the Internet.

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