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Lauren Rich Fine: What Exactly Is The NYT Trying To Do?

imageThe New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT), owner of the Boston Globe, has gotten six unions to agree to concessions and is still in talks with the Guild. However, even if they get their $20 million in cost reductions, the paper is purportedly still losing fistfuls of money. Was the New York Times management trying to show potential buyers that the unions are flexible? Do they really think there is a real buyer? Is it conceivable that they really thought a buyer would come out of the woodwork after they made their veiled threat?

At the end of the day, the New York Times Co. will still have to make some drastic moves, including, perhaps, only publishing in print certain days of the week. Maybe that was always part of the plan, as I doubt they would have really wanted to pull the trigger and actually have the ink on their hands of having closed a major metropolitan paper. At the core, the Sulzberger family is about newspapers and journalism. Yet, the stakes are greater than just the Globe: this is about the New York Times. The company needs to preserve its resources to support the core paper. It needs to eliminate losses where it can. The Times will get concessions, but it will still lose money in Boston.

5 Responses to “Lauren Rich Fine: What Exactly Is The NYT Trying To Do?”

  1. The core problem is employees don't grasp the danger until it is too late. Pan American, Eastern Airlines, American Motors, various regional retailers, and many more had this problem. It is hard to think of a company that came back other than to "come back" for awhile to stagger on, and then collapse once more. It is human, natural, and unavoidable.

    GM, for example, is doing fine in other parts of the world where it started a little bit to a lot later without the big pay packages in the US. GM could easily close the US and keep those other businesses; but it too is trying to hang on too long.

    The best part of the NYT story is it is a liberal bastion so is cut a lot of stack by the media critical of businesses. This is a modern test case of change. What is missing from the discussion, largely, is how can the AOLs, Googles, Yahoos, etc become so important if the print media hadn't become far less important? People may just come away with the truth of it: the information age changed; the print media were not at fault (yes, they made mistakes; but all companies do that) and the employees were not at fault (yes, they could have made more concessions faster, but would it have made any real difference?).

  2. lauren rich fine

    i wouldn't eliminate print altogether but i would certainly start to wean folks one day at a time. i have a predilection for electronic versions rather than websites, at least to start. i think the new round of electronic readers is getting closer to the point where readers might convert. you definitely could merge some functions, including edit/business between boston and new york but the globe should still be a local paper. for all the angst about the globe, remember there are many other media outlets in that town, including the herald and the phoenix

  3. Steve

    Riding on nathanr's coattails … what about merging the edit and business staffs in Boston and NYC, eliminating all redundant coverage?

  4. jenkins

    Someone has to let the employees know that it is time to stop being so damn arrogant. You used to work for a great company but, sadly, you now work for a complete basket-case and a failed company. Stop being so arrogant; time to jump ship!

  5. nathanr

    Let's start a list of what they can do:

    1-Model the likelihood of an All Digital Newsroom with lower costs akin to how Huff Po Aggregates but with a bit more editorial oversight

    2-Eliminate Print in Boston

    3-Limit NYTimes print to Saturday & Sunday

    4-Cancel the Pension- battle it out in the courts.

    5-Do the WSJ exercise of "how many people touch a story before running it" and cut that down to 1-2 people. If Murdoch says WSJ was 10, NYT is probably not too far from that.

    6-Eliminate coverage that can be aggregated by expert sources (ex: strike a deal with Bloomberg for business news; cut a deal with ESPN for Sports)

    7-Streamline Business Functions or outsource them

    Other ideas and a sense of how to save another $20MM?