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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who Is Still Reading The New York Times? Can Online Advertising Save This Newspaper?

Who is still reading The New York Times? As evidenced by their dismal third quarter financial report, the picture remains grim. According to a recent article by Brett Pulley of Bloomberg:

"New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, posted third-quarter sales that fell short of analysts’ estimates as advertising and circulation revenue declined.

Third-quarter sales slid 2.7 percent to $554.3 million, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Analysts had predicted $558.8 million on average, according to a Bloomberg survey.

. . . .

Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson is trimming costs as revenue slumps. The company, faced with competition from News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal, has posted a sales decline in 10 of the past 11 quarters. Readers are also increasingly seeking their news from the Web, where stories are updated more frequently."

Although it would appear that The New York Times is hoping to be saved by digital advertising, my belief is that this source of revenue will also ultimately be impacted by the newspaper's radical leftist content and policies, including tolerance of anti-Semitic readers' comments, which have alienated much of its New York area readership.

Wherein lies the core of The New York Times online readership? Examine content from two of the most popular readers' comments in response to a October 30 op-ed, entitled "Can the Dude Abide", by The Times's queen bee, Maureen Dowd (

"To put it succinctly, we liberals continue to speak English and mistakenly assume voters do the same. Wrong: voters speak Bumper Sticker. We need to swallow our pride and start speaking it as well, even as we continue to speak intelligently to those of our base who 'know the secret handshake.' We must immediately counter every loud and catchy lie with louder and catchier facts--and do so more often!!!!"

This comment, recommended by 1,039 New York Times readers, bespeaks the arrogance, condescension and elitism which have also come to characterize this newspaper's editorial line.

The second most popular comment:

"We should be careful not to abandon this president. Clearly, he must be one of the most intelligent, reflective, capable, and charismatic Americans ever to have held the office. Certainly a welcome surprise as our next president, and at a critical moment in our history. The redemptive grandness of his historical irony should not be forsaken. That a man, whose moment is inextricably linked to the heritage of America's quintissential story of radical oppression, became president at the uncertain and volatile peak of elite corporate political power (of both the Clinton and Bush presidencies, though I believe history will show Bush the far, far worse) is a poetic justice that we should not fail to court. Obama needs to be pushed to the left."

Observe the stereotypical denunciation of corporate America combined with the demand that Obama toe the leftist line. Not surprisingly, this comment, recommended 1,004 times, was also "highlighted" by The Times, i.e. deemed to be one of "the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views."

Sure, there is a place for publications representing all political views; however, given the radicalization of The New York Times, I believe that it cannot sustain its global overhead as it loses paying middle-of-the-road readership.

Will I pay to read Maureen Dowd, Roger Cohen, Frank Rich and friends? Not a chance. Nor do I believe that the more radical readership of The Times , if charged for "premium material", will be willing to reach into their pockets to subsidize this sinking ship, fast going the way of the Berkeley Barb.


  1. I guess, "redemptive grandness of his historical irony" from the second comment is exactly the "secret handshake" - liberals' password - mentioned in the first comment. I do not believe this expression has any sense otherwise. The first comment probably explains, what Obama meant saying that results of the elections are "humbling".

    In a grocery store, in Maine, I saw near a cashier a small cap with pennies, saying: "Save New York Times". This is real "historical irony".

  2. Earlier this morning, I ended here, at the bottom of your blog column about the economic viability of the NYTimes. I found the piece after linking from your comment on Cohens piece "An Unknown Soldier" in the NYTimes and then checking out your website. I strongly disagree with your conclusion that the NYTimes has been radicalized and, more importantly, you think no one would pay for it even if necessary to the survival of the paper. When NYT first experimented with charging for premium content, I was very willing to do so and I think and hope there are millions more like me. I was just checking my email before retiring and caught a wonderful book review by Michiko Kakutani on a new publication of Saul Bellow's letters. I don't think there is a person who could have written a more personal or compelling review. After appreciating the review, I remembered your blog and comments about the paper. I think you are dead wrong and suggest you reconsider.... and do you really mean you would not pay for Frank Rich?

  3. Mary Ellen,

    Many thanks for your message.

    The New York Times has not been radicalized? Please take the time, for example, to examine this newspaper's willingness to tolerate anti-Semitism as amply evidenced by my correspondence with their senior editors (see my blog label "anti-Semitism"), some of whom have requested that I protect their anonymity.

    Will I be sorry to see The New York Times file for bankruptcy? Absolutely. I grew up with this newspaper, believing that it was the epitome of ethics and honesty. Ages ago, when I applied to journalism school, I wrote in my application that The New York Time was all that a newspaper should be. Sadly, this is no longer the case - again, read my correspondence.

    In the even more distant past, I would await their Sunday edition to read through the magazine section and peruse their philately page. No more. Philately has apparently gone the way of the horse and buggy, and The New York Times editorial content has lost any vestige of balance.

    Science? The arts? Movie and theater reviews? I'll be very sorry to see it all trashed by the vanity of persons who hijacked this venerable institution and steered it off the road.

    Frank Rich? Tiresome. Every Sunday we are presented with a variation on the same diatribe condemning those darned Republicans. I don't have the time to obsess over politics.

    Will enough persons pay to read "premium" content? Examine what happened to The Times of London. It's not going to save The New York Times, which has alienated too large a portion of its readership.