Slow collapse of New York Times as digital subscriber strategy fails

Thursday, December 06, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: New York Times, bankruptcy, downsizing

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(NaturalNews) Perhaps the nation's most well known mainstream media source, the New York Times (NYT) is struggling hard to retain subscribers these days, even with its gradual transition into a paid, digital subscription model. As reported by The Week, the news giant recently announced that it will be offering buyout packages to 30 of its newsroom employees, with the hopes of eliminating managers and other non-union employees that are simply costing the paper too much money.

If these buyout packages are not accepted, the NYT will be forced to lay off 30 workers, it announced, as advertising revenues continue to dip as a result of more people getting their news online for free from other sources. And even though the NYT has tried to keep up with all the technological changes, including earlier in the year establishing a paid, online subscription model in an attempt to boost the value of its advertising model, such efforts have largely been a failure.

"There is no getting around the hard news that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced," wrote Jill Abramson, executive editor of the NYT, in a recent letter to her staff. "I hope the needed savings can be achieved through voluntary buyouts but if not, I will be forced to go to layoffs among the excluded staff," she added, noting that employees have until January 24 to either accept a severance package, or face the possibility of getting laid off.

NYT has been shedding employees for years just to survive

This is not the first time the NYT has had to make such drastic cuts, either. Back in 2008, the paper eliminated 100 positions from its staff through buyouts and layoffs as a result of dwindling readership and decreasing advertising revenues. Advertisers are simply unwilling to pay the same premiums for online advertising as they traditionally have for print ads, which means the NYT can no longer sustain its bloated payroll of 1,100-plus employees.

"The newspaper industry as a whole is confronting a drastic falloff in advertising revenue," wrote Christine Haughney in a recent NYT piece about the issue. "Print advertising at The New York Times Company's newspapers, which include The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The International Herald Tribune, shrank 10.9 percent, according to the latest earnings report. Digital advertising across the company fell 2.2 percent."

Besides the disparity between online and print advertising revenues, another major factor in the gradual decline of the NYT and other major papers is the fact that many people are switching to alternative news sources, which are far less biased in their reporting and address issues that are often ignored by the mainstream media. A report published last year by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism found that more Americans now get their news online than they do from print sources, and traditional papers like the NYT are losing about $7 worth of print ads for every dollar they gain in online ads.

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