I am sure to the dismay of my friends on the right, I absolutely love the New York Times. I read it daily, spend hours reading it on the weekends, and I willingly pay for my online subscription. But, over the last few years, I’ve noticed that the marketplace hasn’t been as kind to "the old grey lady" as I am.
The growth of social readers, as well as social media overall, has made great journalism almost seem old school and obsolete. Who needs Tom Friedman when you have a bunch of whacko’s posting “news” on places like Reddit? And, who doesn’t love sites like Buzzfeed writing top ten lists about Jennifer Laurence (big fan by the way). And, why pay for great, original content when you can find it for free on places like Huffington Post or Business Insider?
What are media companies like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Economist to do?
It seems to me that the answer is quite simple – get small and stay relevant. Seems like every one of these monster media conglomerates is trying to find other ways to replace the dying ad model. In my mind, I am glad to pay for great content. It’s your job as the publisher though to determine if you can make money on it. How can it be that The New York Times generates over a $100 million a year in PROFIT and is STILL trying to figure out its model? Call me naive (most do), but it seems to me that THEY DO HAVE A VIABLE BUSINESS, albeit just one that is much smaller than in the past. How many media or social media sites would kill to have profit like that??? Imagine if Tumbler actually had been making a profit before selling to Yahoo for a $1 billion???
So it would appear that the Times selling non-core assets and focusing on shrinking is the right path. Maybe they are finally figuring out that smaller can be better (I think better is always better but that’s another story) and I can continue to spend my Sunday’s reading Tom Friedman, Maureen Down and Gail Collins without fear they will soon be working at Buzzfeed :)