While corporate sibling Boston Globe fights for survival, the head of The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) Media Group is taking his turn online at Talk to the Times. Scott Heekin-Canedy, president and GM of the group, is the latest NYT exec to answer reader questions during a week-long stint. One point he felt compelled to make from the top: “I do not participate in the management of The Boston Globe.”
But Heekin-Canedy did participate in the decision to raise the NYT‘s weekday newsstand price to $2 from $1.50 and Sunday to almost unimaginable $7 from a previously hard-to-believe $5. Most people kept buying the print edition the last time the price changes; this time, though, the NYT has to contend with the double whammy of the economy and the free access it provides to its own news.
Here’s how Warren Buffett explained the problem in an interview with CNBC: “If the New York Times is going to sell for $2 and be free on the internet, that’s a very unsustainable model.” The Buffetts of the world aren’t likely to cancel or stop picking up copies but others will start to winnow out — and the NYT will slightly shift its demographics up again. Someone like me may decide it’s cheaper to get a Kindle subscription than buy the print edition during travel, especially when I subscribe to it at home. (Heck, I think the Times and other papers make those electronic subscriptions less expensive for print subs or include them outright.) Referring obliquely to the coming announcement of the Kindle DX and the NYT‘s participation as well as other devices, Heekin-Canedy said he expects the category “to gain momentum in the coming year.” A few excerpts after the jump from his responses to readers:
– Charging for digital access: Several readers mentioned willingness to pay for online access or to pay for both. Heekin-Canedy basically punted the question, referring back to colleague Martin Nisenholtz’s answer in march about looking at pay-for-content options. But he added: “The Times has charged for online content twice in the 13-year history of NYTimes.com. There is no doubt that we could convert NYTimes.com to a paid content site, and there is likewise no doubt that it would be greatly diminished as an advertising venue.”
– Future formats: The question: The Times is a newsPAPER. Will the online edition replace the paper one? The answer: “My colleagues and I see The Times not as a newsPAPER but instead as a news provider. Our goal is to offer our consumers news, information and entertainment wherever and whenever they want it and even in some ways they may not have envisioned