Collegue and ever alert observer, Phil Meyer, writes to say that the New York Times and its future arethe cover story on the current Business Week. Further, the future is red but not rosy. Not all of the Times’ troubles are tied to their mismanagement and missing oversight of reporters like the infamous Jason Blair. Many are the problems of a paper-based information source trying to make the move to the Internet. More people read the NYTimes than ever and more of us read it on the Net (disclosure: I get the paper edition too, but end up reading a good bit of the paper on the Net anyhow). The question is as always: Where is the Money? This is no small question since good journalism requires good money — unless you are me blogging in the public interest :->
The B-Week article ends:
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.
Today, Sulzberger faces an even bigger challenge than when he took charge of the Times in the mid-1990s. Can he find a way to rekindle growth while preserving the primacy of the Times’s journalism? The answer will go a long way toward determining not only the fate of America’s most important newspaper but also whether traditional, reporting-intensive journalism has a central place in the Digital Age.
Now those are real challenges. Does Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma point to any answers?
In related news news, Phil points out that a lack of standards and a lack of copyeditors makes the Times less readable. For example, he says: “I wrote to the Times ombudsman to complain about Maureen Dowd’s affection of the British spelling of “whine.” She uses “whinge,” which will stop an American reader in his or her tracks. I was told that every op ed writer is entitled to use the spelling and grammar of his or her choice.”
As anyone who has read this blog knows too well, copyeditors can make a real positive difference. I miss them. They help make me sound smarter.