Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Future of The New York Times

BusinessWeek, ; January 17, 2005

Since 1896, four generations of the Ochs-Sulzberger family have guided The New York Times through wars, recessions, strikes, and innumerable family crises. In 2003, though, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the current proprietor, faced what seemed to be a publisher's ultimate test after a loosely supervised young reporter named Jayson Blair was found to have fabricated dozens of stories. The revelations sparked a newsroom rebellion that humiliated Sulzberger into firing Executive Editor Howell Raines. "My heart is breaking," Sulzberger admitted to his staff on the day he showed Raines the door.


It turns out, though, that fate was not finished with Arthur Sulzberger, who also is chairman of the newspaper's corporate parent, New York Times Co. (NYT ). The strife that convulsed The New York Times's newsroom under the tyrannical Raines has faded under the measured leadership of his successor, Bill Keller, but now its financial performance is lagging. NYT Co.'s stock is trading at about 40, down 25% from its high of 53.80 in mid-2002 and has trailed the shares of many other newspaper companies for a good year and a half. "Their numbers in this recovery are bordering on the abysmal," says Douglas Arthur, Morgan Stanley's (MWD ) senior publishing analyst.


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