Lots of people seem to be thinking about The New York Times today. Or is it just us?
The future of the country’s leading newspaper—which as recently as early January was called into doubt by The Atlantic‘s Michael Hirschorn—is touched on in this week’s Time magazine cover story by Walter Isaacson, which was updated online after it appeared late last week with following:
Today, The Times‘ Richard Pérez-Peña wrote Resilient Strategy for Times Despite Toll of a Recession, in which he floated out the "’last-man-standing’ strategy," which he quotes New York Times Company President and Chief Executive Janet L. Robinson describing as follows: "As other newspapers cut back on international and national coverage, or cease operations, we believe there will be opportunities for The Times to fill that void." Of course, that’s not a plot to survive the recession. Rather, it presupposes The Times definitely surviving the recession, so it’s really just an argument for why The Times will still be on top after the dust clears.
Over at Jim Romenesko’s Poynter Institute-sponsored media blog, there’s a memo written by American Lawyer and Brill’s Content founder Steve Brill, which was presented to Times Company representatives including Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. Mr. Romenesko calls the memo "Brill’s Secret Plan to Save the New York Times and Journalism Itself, but it also might be called TimesSelect II: The Re-Selecting.
Writes Mr. Brill:
Getting an average of just $1.00 a month (3.3 cents a day) from each visitor would yield $240m in new annual revenue. This is approximately equal to (it seems, from the Times’ financial statements) two thirds to three fourths of all of the company’s annual advertising revenue for all of its internet properties combined. And, of course, this online ad revenue would not disappear or even necessarily diminish if readers paid a small amount for online content. [Formatting Brill's.]
Mr. Brill also suggests readers pay $55 a year for all-they-can read nytimes.com access and proposed the WNYC/PBS pledge-drive-ready slogan "An Old-fashioned Tradition is Back: Read the Times for 15 Cents a Day." (Sounds like Bill Murray’s old "Listener Supported Radio" skit from National Lampoon’s That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick! to us.)
Meanwhile, in New York magazine, Will Leitch looks at Twitter and finds The Times news-gathering hegemony being pecked at by the ubiquitous blurt-blog platform that some evangelists think can replace traditional journalism (while, Mr. Leitch points out, also failing to make any money):
Beating The Times by 15 minutes! (The Times’ Lede blog took notice of this, too.) Of course, The Times had all sorts of relevant details, like the fact that U.S. Airways flight 1549 didn’t so much crash as land safely with all passengers escaping mostly unharmed (probably something family members of passengers might want to know), but, man, it took The Times 15 whole minutes to get on the story.
So, does that mean manolantern will be "the last man standing"? Glp.
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