New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. gave the first of his 2006 State of the Times addresses at 10:30 this morning at the New Amsterdam Theatre. In his opening remarks, Sulzberger discussed the paper’s efforts to expand its online and digital operations in a newspaper industry that’s mired in struggle. “The intro was clearly about how tumultuous things are,” one staffer said.
Things were also a bit tumultuous in the open question-and-answer period following Sulzberger’s scripted remarks. Several staffers asked Sulzberger about stock grants awarded to senior Times executives, citing an Observer report that showed Sulzberger receiving some $800,000 in shares in 2005, while CEO Janet Robinson received $2 million in shares and $4 million in options.
In response, Sulzberger told the audience that his compensation is set at 60 percent of what average executives in his position earn.
Staffers also asked the publisher why he had ended the employee stock-purchase program, which had allowed staffers to buy New York Times Company stock at a 15 percent discount. Sulzberger said the decision to eliminate the program was a “painful choice to make,” according to a staffer present–but that since the New York Times‘ stock isn’t gaining value, “staffers shouldn’t worry about it.”