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How is The New York Times Really Doing? ( 408

Wired magazine did a profile on The New York Times in its this month's issue. Talking about the paper's transition from print to more digital-focus than ever, author Gabriel Snyder wrote, "It's to transform the Times' digital subscriptions into the main engine of a billion-dollar business, one that could pay to put reporters on the ground in 174 countries even if (OK, when) the printing presses stop forever." Veteran journalist Om Malik analyzes the numbers: -> The company reported revenue of nearly $1.6 billion in 2016 -- remarkably consistent with prior years.
-> Print advertising revenue dipped by $70 million year-over-year to $327 million in 2016.
-> Digital advertising revenue, while a meaningful portion of the Times' revenue, did not grow enough to offset vanishing print ad dollars.
-> Total digital ad revenue in 2016 was $206 million, up only 6% from the prior year.
-> The key revenue driver for the New York Times has been its digital subscription business, which added more than half a million paid subscribers in 2016. Thanks in part to interest around the presidential election, the newspaper added 276,000 new digital subscribers in Q4, the single largest quarterly increase since 2011 (the year the pay model was launched).

The Times' digital success is hinged upon two major drivers: affiliate revenues from services like the Wirecutter and digital subscriptions. Advertising might be a good short term bandaid, but the company needs to focus on how to evolve away from it even more aggressively. The Times needs to simplify their sign-up experience and make it easier for people to pay for the subscriptions. As of now, it is like the sound you hear when scratching your nails on a piece of glass.

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How is The New York Times Really Doing?

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  • "->" in 2017, while we have these nice unicode arrows...
  • Kowtowing (Score:2, Insightful)

    Isn't this sort of thing just kowtowing to Trumps use of "failing" every time he mentions the New York Times in tweets or press conferences? We all know why he does that - spread enough misinformation about a companies situation and eventually enough people get spooked to make it true. The numbers don't show a failing company, they merely show a transitional one.

    • Clickbaiting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @09:17AM (#53904817)
      Slashdot posts a couple of articles a week that invite Trump bashing. This one is a perfect example, you see "New York Times" in the headline and you know there will be a couple of hundred posts, most of which will mention Trump.
      • Re:Clickbaiting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gtall ( 79522 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @09:40AM (#53904897)

        I rather put it that Trump posts enough stupid things every week to invite Trump bashing. Live by the media, die by the media.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hey! ( 33014 )

        Slashdot posts a couple of articles a week that invite Trump bashing.

        AKA "actual news".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Like the Microsoft bashing and Apple bashing and Firebox bashing and systemd bashing stories, Trump is just an easy target. The easiest, in fact, because you can guarantee that if you posted on story a day he would have said something stupid in the last 24 hours.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mvdwege ( 243851 )

        Funny, the majority of the posts I see at +1 or better now are repeating some form of Trump's 'failing NYT' bullshit. And it is bullshit, as even TFS shows that the NYT is doing fine.

        I thought it was the Right that was supposed to be the realists and the Left the ones living in a fairy-tale world?

      • Re:Clickbaiting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by trawg ( 308495 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @11:18AM (#53905389) Homepage

        Is it though? I'm not American but share the rest of the world's fascination with the crazy shit Trump says, but I don't follow him on Twitter or read everything he says - but even /I/ know he regularly refers to the NYTimes as "the failing NYTimes".

        As he's the President of the United States, whether or not he's using the 140 character limit of Twitter to say things that are trivially provably false I think is extremely important. If the NYTimes is failing then Trump is saying a true thing.

        If it's not failing, then he's making a statement as if it's a fact that is at best just completely unsubstantiated, and at worst a complete lie to push some other agenda. Given his position in the world, it's important to try to establish a baseline for how useful his word is.

        So far it doesn't seem to be very useful.

      • An awful lot of people are simply political automata. Press the right button and they'll literally DuckSpeak a response with no actual thought involved.

        Trump does tend to trigger a lot more buttons, but in large part it's because he's a natural button-pusher.

  • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @08:37AM (#53904671)

    When I saw the headline, my first thought was that slashdot had picked up the story about the major newspapers buying fake clicks from Chinese bots to increase their page rank and advertising revenue.

    See here [] and here [] (or here []).

  • Hard to read (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blogagog ( 1223986 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @08:42AM (#53904687)
    They've got to get over their hatred of Trump before they can succeed. Even anti-Trump people want to hear about something else once in a while.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by EzInKy ( 115248 )

      More people hate Trump than like him. You are saying they should censor themselves then?

      P.S. I'm really worried about Sweden. The latest terrorist attack against their country never made the mainstream news.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Even as someone who has no particular like for Trump, it's getting old fast. The anti-Trumpers are raving like lunatics and their little fits of rage have worn thin. For people who ride him about tweeting about the irrelevant issues, they sure don't bring a lot to the table themselves. At the rate they're going they may have me voting for him by next election just to put them off.

        • When I meet these people, I always thank them for volunteering so much time and effort to Trump's reelection campaign. The best part is that they usually react by doubling down - making them even more repugnant to normal people.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            TBH, that goes both ways and why I find the Horse-shoe theory applicable. Both sides are doubling down and the real question is which side is pissing off the middle more than the other. Right now, I think more people are getting fed up with the left, hence POTUS Trump. Yea, Trump is disliked but that was true before he was elected. Obviously, that dislike wasn't enough. All he has done is what he promised on the campaign trail, like it or not. Just like the ACA that pissed off R's that Obama said he would d

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You mean like Fox and Breitbart got over ranting about Obama and Hillary? That certainly hurt them. Face it, never letting go is now seen as the winning strategy, both in terms of news and politics.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Sorry, but when your president is a habitual liar, at war with the free press and surrounded by even worse people it's not a "fit of rage", it's genuine and justified concern.

          Trying to dismiss it as some kind of childish tantrum is a straight up silencing tactic. It's not going to work. Especially when the POTUS is prone to doing exactly what you complain about, often at 3AM on Twitter, or through his spokesman at a Whitehouse Press Conference.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            What does war with the press mean? Seriously. All I can see is that each (government and press) are vying for authority on truth which neither have. So what?

            What I find funny is that news has become a 3rd person reading of twitter tweets. lol, because twitter has nothing to do with shit-posting. As the internet became more ingrained in society it was inevitable that politicians began shit-posting like the rest of us. It's just hilarious to find "old media" out of touch with shit-posting.

            War on memes because

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Trump's election represented a repudiation of "got'cha" journalism. We have "gotcha" fatigue as a society. With media, it was always, "Forget about policies for a second, people... he SAID THIS DUMB REMARK! Got'cha, Donald! They can't vote for you now! Time to accept an establishment candidate!"

          We're tired of being told who to vote for because somebody's remarks upset elite professors and business owners. They act like outrageous comments should automatically invalidate policy ideas. "Paul Krugman thinks Do

        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          They are just echoing the anti-Obama people who went before. We were treated to "stories" about his birth in Kenya even after his Hawaii birth certificate was published. We even had a presidential candidate honk on about it long after it was a dead horse.

          Before that, it was the anti-Bush people who decided their inside joke was to call him a Nazi.

          Before that, we were treated to the Bible thumpers thumping about Bill Clinton and Sex...funny how the Bible thumpers are fixated on Sex.

          Before that, it was the an

      • It gets old too quick. Fortunately for me, It gives me a good excuse to go for a morning walk rather than my usual half hour going through news. Bias and the lack of inspiration are a part of it, but too much of "the end is neigh" and there really isn't a point: we are stuck with him for another 47 months, and for at least the next 16 months there really isn't much that can be done to change the picture.
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        More people hate Trump than like him. You are saying they should censor themselves then?

        Yes! They should serve King not country! It's the American waaaayta minute, somethings not right here.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm really worried about Sweden

        What you are, actually, is ignorant of the facts. Talk to a cop who has to deal with what's going on there. Or better yet, try living with it yourself for a week or two.

        This guy caught heat for being honest about it. []

        But you can be honest about it without risking public backlash, so why not try it?

    • I have the same problem in here :D
    • Re:Hard to read (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @09:18AM (#53904819) Homepage Journal

      Can't really avoid reporting what the POTUS and wider government does, and it's not really their fault if honest reporting tends to paint Trump in a bad light. Maybe they can lighten it up with more cartoons or something.

    • Re:Hard to read (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @09:58AM (#53904981) Homepage Journal

      You mean they should stop reporting on the President of the United States when he does something with serious consequences if whatever he did happens to be a bad thing?

      That's... not the way the press is supposed to act in a free society, FWIW. The Press is supposed to cover what the government does and what the impact of that is. You might not like that, but the rest of us prefer it that way.

      • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

        "The Press is supposed to cover what the government does and what the impact of that is. You might not like that, but the rest of us prefer it "

        I love it! Just how long has the New York Times been doing this? Must be right around 3 months now?

    • Re:Hard to read (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UPZ ( 947916 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @10:14AM (#53905055)
      Agreed. I didn't vote for Trump like majority of the US voters. However, even bad presidents have done good things and even good presidents have done bad things. As a newspaper, just report the facts and stay out of influence peddling.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Even anti-Trump people want to hear about something else once in a while.

      Actually not. Our appetite for anti-Trump information is apparently insatiable, and that's a problem for us. In fact I think it's one of the reasons Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college.

      Like everything else, negative information reaches a point of diminishing returns. There comes a point where more bad news doesn't hurt you any more, but crowds out other news. In a divisive election, you win by getting more supporters to the polls than your opponent, and for that you need media bandwidth. So while

    • People need to get over their support of Trump so they can succeed.
  • Failing business (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MoarSauce123 ( 3641185 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @08:44AM (#53904689)
    NYT does not strike me to be a failing business. At least NYT does not have to resort to stiffing contractors like Trump to turn a profit.
    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Wait until he decides that, being the King of Debt, which he proudly proclaimed, decides the U.S. should have a lot more of it. And his Republican Fausts in Congress are going right along claiming the increase in the economy will wash out the extra money they are willing to spend under Trump which they were unwilling to spend under Obama.

      They love to point at Kennedy and Reagan. However, when tax rates are relatively high, you can get a big bang for your buck lowering them...all other things remaining equal

  • by bdh ( 96224 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @10:00AM (#53904985)

    The problem is that the NYT no longer meets their motto of "all the news that fits, we print" (apparently it's not "fit to print", but that's a quibble).

    Rightly or wrongly (and I'd argue wrongly), they've embraced "advocacy journalism". Having a monoculture is never a good thing, because it renders the entire organization vulnerable to a common flaw. The NYT embraces diversity in every way, except in the most important one: thought. Politically, they are a monoculture, and that hurts them.

    The problem isn't that lockstep ideology renders their editorial positions predictable; that's fine. It's the fact that it affects their news coverage, and it affects it negatively. When I'm reading a news story, I shouldn't be able to tell what the writer's opinions on the matter are, and yet in far too many cases, it's obvious. Worse, it's not only affected how stories are covered, but whether they get covered at all.

    The most damning criticism of the NYT I've heard was a friend of mine who cancelled her subscription a few years ago. Her reason was that she was "tired of hearing people discussing controversies I'd never heard of". When newspapers decide not to report on a story because they feel it might empower their ideological opponents, they're not being reporters, they're being advocates. There's nothing wrong with advocacy, but you should at least be honest about it.

    And, as the saying goes, "that's how you get Trump". How could an organization the size of NYT get the election so wrong? Because they were looking at it with blinders on. They may have put on the blinders intentionally, but their readers didn't. And yet their readers still suffered the effects of the blinders, too.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @10:46AM (#53905231) Journal

      Elections are never a sure thing. Even fivethirtyeight was weighted towards Clinton, but everything has an error margin, and any prediction of something as large and complex as hundreds of millions of voters in what amounts to fifty separate elections, each with its own dynamics, is inevitably going to have a significant margin of error. For chrissakes, even many Republicans expected, and probably hoped Trump would lose (as is evidenced by the chaos now surrounding repealing and replacing Obamacare, as it turns out no Republican in Congress, save perhaps for Rand Paul, ever actually believed they would ever be in a position to replace Obamacare).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        yeah but that's not really the point. Who one I mean. It is the 'attitude' and the bias that it indicates.
        When I watched news footage of the election I literally saw , horror on the faces of some reporters, other actually cried , it was obvious not only who they thought would win but that they assumed their audience was devastated and disappointed she didn't.

        That is because they all( more then 80%) have the same political leanings, and any that don't are expected so shut up and pretend to agree. The sam

        • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @12:42PM (#53905877) Journal

          There has always been a bias in the press. If you think the big press agencies and newspapers now are bad, open up a newspaper from the 18th or 19th centuries.

          The best solution isn't to abandon papers like the NYT, which despite any bias, still remains one of the best news gathering organizations in history. The solution is to find multiple sources.

          And the anti-Trump bias extended a lot further than allegedly left-leaning press. A lot of Republicans were alarmed by Trump's rise, and remain pretty skeptical even now. Even Fox News, while generally the most pro-Trump of the big news sources, has had its problems with Trump. He is an "atypical" candidate to put it bluntly, and how does one cover such a candidate, when his supporters are willing to overlook, or outright support his more outrageous statements, and yet are so thin-skinned that anyone reporting those statements is accused of bias? How do you report "just the facts" about someone who happily dispenses with facts whenever it pleases him?

      • by bdh ( 96224 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @01:09PM (#53906099)

        Elections are never a sure thing.

        Absolutely true. But the NYT (and others) was not reporting the possibility of a Hillary win, they were debating the size of the landslide that she was going to win. That's why readers were so stunned. The NYT had not only not reported on the possibility of a Trump win, they had openly, and publicly, dismissed it.

        This was a repeat of the infamous Pauline Kael line back in 1980, where Reagan's victory over Carter stunned the NYT, because "no one I know voted for Reagan". If a reporter cannot claim to have met a single person who voted for a president that wins in a landslide, they are living in a bubble and need to get out more. And that's the crux of their problem - they are living in an insular bubble, and they're only marginally aware of it. The lack of awareness alone damages their credibility.

        For a news source that claims to be authoritative, not being aware of its' own shortcomings shows significant ignorance. And who's going to trust an ignorant news source?

        • And there was a point during the election when a landslide Clinton victory seemed likely. But what of it? Papers having been making wrong calls for as long as there have been elections and newspapers. Remember "Dewey defeats Truman"?

          The other thing about all of this that bothers me is that people seem to be confused about what constitutes "reporting" and what constitutes "opinion and analysis". Op-ed pieces are renowned for their bias, and in fact that's the whole point. Now it is true that there is a subtl

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well said. Dishonesty in the news isn't only about getting the facts wrong. It's is also about what facts you don't include. I.e. Lies of omission are a big problem.

      If all you do is report on one side of an argument is it really surprising that anyone on "that side" think of you dishonest? The best example I can think of is immigration. The argument has been framed as "racists hate immigration" and "immigration helps everyone". It is not the full story even if the "immigration helps everyone" is true. What

      • by Leuf ( 918654 )
        The US is 65th in percentage of foreign born people (2014, NPR) and bounces around between 15th and 30th in immigration per capita. So yes, I guess the papers should do a better job educating you about that.
    • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @01:44PM (#53906333)

      The problem is that the NYT no longer meets their motto of "all the news that fits, we print" (apparently it's not "fit to print", but that's a quibble).

      Of course you realize (and for those that don't actually know) that the actual quote is, "All the News That's Fit to Print" (printed in a box in the upper left hand corner of the front page on the physical paper since about 1896) and what you quoted is a really old joke.

      From The New York Times []:

      The paper's motto, "All the News That's Fit to Print", appears in the upper left-hand corner of the front page.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @11:20AM (#53905399)

    There are so many free sources of news, it may be impossible to sell it in the near future.

    It may also be impossible for commercial news sources to compete with the millions of "news enthusiasts" that post and analyze news simply for the fun of it.

    Events are posted in near real-time on youtube and thousands of people dissect and analyze Wikileaks releases the instant they hit the internet.

    There is no commercial news room that can scale out to that size.

    Yes, the availability of so much news does force the consumer to filter out bullshit for him/her self - but many times you are getting bullshit from paid mainstream media - so you have to do the due diligence anyway if you want to stay informed.

    Good luck MSM - you are competing with the entire internet - and I don't think you will win.

  • -> The key revenue driver for the New York Times has been its digital subscription business,

    You forgot the ongoing program of the whole paper being a blatantly hardcore left wing proaganda rag. Thats gotta be worth quite a few undercover $$millions from the Democrat party, the Clinton Foundation and god knows which groups of billionaire social manipulators.

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