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NYT’s Heekin-Canedy: By Itself, Bay Area Report Won’t Be Reason To Subscribe

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The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) is particularly proud of one circulation statistic: 73 percent of its home-delivery subscribers have been on board for at least two years. That core — “the barometer of the health of the Times,” NYT President and GM Scott Heekin-Canedy calls it — has grown steadily since the early 1990s to 822,000 now, up from 600,000 in 2000. Heekin-Canedy and others believe one way to keep it healthy during the newspaper equivalent of the flu epidemic is make the print edition more valuable to those subscribers and possibly convert some single-copy buyers. That’s the circulation-driven rationale for the Bay Area Report launching Friday and the planned Chicago version, as Heekin-Canedy explained during an interview with paidContent: “In a sense, we’re testing the market to prove that belief.”

He views the regional focus as a service. “In doing this, we have reason to believe that it will strengthen our subscriber retention, perhaps result in a little bit of circulation growth, but we don’t have big ambitions there.” That’s realistic given that four pages a week of added regional coverage isn’t a game changer. Or, as Heekin-Canedy admits, “by itself, it