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Monday, May 23, 2016

Is NYT giving up on print?

As the newspaper industry collapses, one of the queens of the American press is forced to layoff staff and revamp. Poynter Institute had a piece on memos from New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet to the staff.

This passage from Poynter (quoting the memo) was fascinating:

  • A new model for copy editing. "[Editor] Susan Wessling is leading a team that is examining whether our copy desks are structured properly for an era when stories no longer move at the rhythms of print."
  • Editors won't concern themselves with the print edition. "Assigning editors, in the very near future, will not worry about filling space. They will worry over coverage, and the best ways to tell stories. The print hub, a dedicated group of designers and editors, will then construct the print paper out of the great wealth of journalism."

Poynter said editors won't concern themselves with the print edition?

White flag?

Bottom line is another -- now desperate -- attempt to achieve online in revenue what it no longer produces in print. The NYT will try video. That may work but it is difficult to compete against the pros in TV and the amateurs with all the time in the world.

The financial reality is newspapers no longer are cash cows. Thomson bailed a few years ago. Knight-Ridder too. Readers bailed for the Internet. Craigslist and others gobbled up much of the classified ads section. Google and others are taking local ads. I now figure out who will win the state elections by whose ads follow me to the London newspapers that I read online.

The memo began with cheery attaboys. The paper won a ton of Pulitzers again this year.

However, Pulitzers still won't pay the bills.

Coming in June -- "Trump the Press: Don Surber's take on how the pundits blew the 2016 Republican race."


  1. "They will worry over coverage, and the best ways to tell stories."

    The best WAYS to tell stories? What ever happened to "just the facts?" and let the reader form any opinions? It's no wonder newspapers are going the way of the dodo. They are no longer objective and simply push narratives, but they don't want anyone to know that. - Elric

  2. One idea of mine that got no traction several years ago was that of producing a template online news source for local news that would serve as a local almanac covering obituaries, police beat, road improvements, sheriff's sales, local sports, weather and zoning petitions. Pretty dry, unsexy stuff. Notice there was no politics. The whole thing could have been produced by anyone with the appropriate knowledge and financial backing and distributed to conservative activists for free. The sites could have been run by voluntary retirees and school kids. It would have driven local papers, which also tend to be liberal, out of business. The fact that this idea got no traction was part of what convinced me that the conservative movement has no intention of fighting to win. They, like that guy you love like a brother, would rather troll people who are willing to fight. Disgusting.

    1. I run a little newsletter for my flotilla. All online, comes out weekly (thereabouts), people send me info, dates, events, photos, and I add maritime news I find interesting, and out it goes.

      It takes an hour or so to put together, in minutes here and there over the workday.

      It isn't that hard to do and my template is a bolded number and headline and then the info.

      - Mikey NTH

    2. Maybe when I retire I can do something locally, but I'm not much with these things. When I tried pushing the idea it ended up like Churchill's idea to bombard the Dardanelles. Th e people I pitched to started your typical ideology driven indie paper that was all paper with the online presence simply a copy of the newspaper articles, which were nothing more than students editorializing. We ended up being infiltrated by left wing libertarians. I saw the handwriting on the wall when I had to veto an article endorsing gay marriage. The next student editor blew things up with contrived incompetence. Never team up with libertarians. Most of them are fakes: lefties who are there to make sure the ideas get distorted into chimeras Chomsky would be happy with.

  3. The Gray Lady gave up 50 years ago.

  4. You know you've crossed over into the Twilight Zone when Weird Al is the only one left to do the editorial staff's job.

  5. I'm sure there are plenty of crazed New Yorkers who can't even imagine not reading the approved propaganda.

    1. What are they going to wrap fish in?

    2. Just the finest, most expensive paper they can find! They have (HAVE) to keep up appearances.

  6. --Roughly a decade after the commercial debut of the Internet, America’s newspapers posted record high advertising sales of $49.4 billion in 2005, leading many publishers to think their businesses would not be seriously affected by the digital revolution. But they were wrong.

    Since hitting that high note in 2005, the industry has undergone a dramatic and traumatic contraction, losing nearly half of its print readership and more than a third of its revenues. With the pre-tax profits of the publicly held publishers cut by 39% since 2003, newsroom staffing has dropped to a historically low level. In spite of the declared determination of most publishers to pivot from print to pixels, the industry's share of the digital advertising market has plunged by more than 50%.--

  7. ''Is NYT giving up on print?''
    Why not, they gave up on journalism over 'advertising' decades ago.