Weekend Reading: NYT's Sulzberger Admits Need For More Paid Content

The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) is once again looking at serious ways beyond advertising to make its content pay — and this time the news comes from the highest source, Chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.. Sulzberger raised the subject in a carefully planned keynote on media literacy at Stony Brook University Thursday, explaining: “Today, in the face of the economic downturn, we have renewed our analysis of how paid content can augment our core advertising business. The trick, of course, is to garner incremental revenue from the user without significantly cannibalizing the high rate ad pages that now account for a very significant amount of money.”

And yes, he did mention the company’s decision to launch and then shutter TimesSelect after it generated $10 million in revenue. His words echoed those earlier this week of Martin Nisenholtz, who heads NYTCo’s digital efforts, as he told an online user about the need to balance paid content with a large national revenue stream.

But Sulzberger raised other issues as well: “Most of our thinking revolves around the fact that we have almost uniquely achieved substantial scale throughout the world and have become part and parcel of the global discourse. This achievement has significant journalistic and financial ramifications and we do not want to take any steps that significantly reduces our presence on the Web. Other prominent news-gathering sites may be less interested in scale and that might give them the flexibility to pursue an even more aggressive paid content strategy. What we have learned over the last decade and half is that the Web has very few generally accepted rules for financial success, and they are inevitably overturned by the next digital cycle and next breakthrough algorithm.”

The keynote itself covers much more ground and is worth a read. I’ll add video and/or audio if available.

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