New York Times, Out of “Print”?

At a recent conference, The New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., stated that he eventually expects the “Gray Lady” will no longer be a physical newspaper. “We will stop printing the New York Times sometime in the future, date TBD,” he said to attendees of the International Newsroom Summit.

This type of statement is sure to cause alarmist reactions in some and will strike others as a completely obvious conclusion to the ongoing struggles of traditional media.

As newspaper circulation continues to fall, so do newspaper revenues. All told, losses amount to 27.2% or ad revenue lost year-over-year between 2008 and 2009. More and more consumers are using the web to stay updated about current events. In other words, the traditional newspaper might be in trouble, but news as a commodity isn’t going anywhere. Sulzberger’s statement acknowledges this fact; we see it as a commitment to finding new, timely, culturally relevant ways to reach readers and profit from gathering and reporting the news. Nevertheless, it’s taken most news outlets quite a bit of time to come around to the realization that print isn’t the be-all-end-all of journalism. By delaying innovation, many publications have put themselves in financially dire straits while scrambling to catch up with web-friendly revenue models.

Sulzberger noted at the conference, “Our pursuit of the pay model is a step in the right direction for us. We believe that serious media organizations must start to collect additional revenue from their readers… information is less and less yearning to be free.”
What do you think of Sulzberger’s statement that the newspaper would cease to exist physically?