Arthur Sulzberger is the owner and chairman of the New York Times. And he has now shocked us all by telling an Israeli newspaper “I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either.”Let me repeat that so you don’t miss the magnitude of that statement! “I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either.”
Update: Here’s a link to what seems to be the original newspaper article.
Sulzberger says the site development costs for the Internet are nothing compared to the huge print investment costs. Furthermore, he said, “…we live in the Internet world…” indicating that the paper is going to have to learn to survive there. It’s the future, and he realizes it.
For fans of e-readers this is especially exciting news. It would seem to accelerate the race for e-reader devices and content systems that can adequately collect and present daily and weekly publications. Clearly, such delivery mechanisms are in their infancy, but with so much at stake so soon, there will surely be a lot of activity and technological advances.We might find that UMPCs and e-ink both gain a lot more traction as this newspaper revolution begins.
From UPI, via a tip from Pride of Lions. Thanks!
About twenty years ago I was taking a course for my MBA in which we did a competitive analysis of the newspaper industry. We concluded that it was on an irreversible decline when compared to the competitive advantages of the other media. This was before the Internet! I watched with amusement over the years how the newspapers have adapted to the onslaught from the different media services. Local newspapers, local radio, and local TV stations have shown remarkable agility in targeting their advertising market. For local businesses the advertising opportunities offered by local newspapers, local radio, and local TV are still the most cost effective way to market certain products. The price of local advertising has gone down in response to the lower market share but there are certain segments of the population that are not reachable via the Internet. The local media organizations have responded by making their organizations more efficient and agile. As long as there is local advertising revenue and local media is willing to adjust their prices in response to completive pressures, they will continue to find ways to survive another day.
Large “national” newspapers have a more severe problem as they compete more directly with both national TV news and the Internet. As an example I was an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal for many years. It taught me a lot about business. About ten years ago I dropped my printed subscription because the Internet version was more convenient. About two years ago I dropped my online subscription primarily because I could read most of the information it felt was significant from free news sources. The breadth, depth, and quality of the news available via the Internet is truly amazing. National and international news was the domain governed by large “national” newspapers and the major television networks. The news available via the Internet has a significant competitive advantage over these media outlets and has forced these organizations to assume a lesser role. This lesser role along with other demographics has translated into lower subscriptions and advertising revenue. Eventually these organizations will have to re-organize to confront the realities of the smaller advertising market segment they serve.
Printed newspapers will continue to decline with the biggest impact occurring on the large “national” newspapers because of their competition with national TV networks and the Internet. I believe that the “national” newspapers will eventually revert to local newspapers due to cost issues and the competitive advantages of the Internet. First hand reporting on national and international issues by these large organizations will be the first to feel the change in business direction. The need to reduce costs will out weigh the need for first hand reporting. Someone else will have to provide this service. This change will be painful but necessary if they are to survive. Despite these competitive pressures I doubt printed newspapers will disappear any time soon.