In the January/February issue of The Atlantic, columnist Michael Hirschorn looks at the future of The New York Times and wonders, "[W]hat if the old media dies much more quickly? … [W]hat if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?"
Mr. Hirschorn looks at the Times Company’s difficult year—and its possibly even more difficult year ahead—before concluding that:
What would that mean for readers? Mr. Hirschorn writes:
Twelve year-old Third Eye Blind references aside, Mr. Hirschorn sees a future digital-only edition of the paper that looks a lot like The Huffington Post, which he describes as "the prototype for the future of journalism: a healthy dose of aggregation, a wide range of contributors, and a growing offering of original reporting." (We assume however, that this hypothetical future Times would pay its contributors, unlike the current, actual Huffington Post.)
Under this digital-only scenario, Mr. Hirschorn speculates that 80 percent of the paper’s staff might be laid off, but he also predicts that some Timesmen and -women like Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Andrew Ross Sorkin might "succeed as independent operators," which might prove "more profitable than fighting as part of a union for an extra percentage-point raise in their next contract."
Will it happen? We’ll tell you in May.