Monday, December 02, 2002

Strategery at The New York Times

Seth Mnookin reports on the growing distress inside the New York Times over the direction of the paper. People who work there are concerned that Uber-editor Howell Raines is driving the bus off a cliff. I've made the same argument myself.

But there is an alternative view, first espoused to me by an equities analyst at Smith Barney. He said (and I'm paraphrasing here): Yes, Raines is making the paper more ideological and yes the paper's "news" has become considerably more opinionated, but no, that doesn't mean it's bad business. There are probably 3 million people who really and truly believe that the election was "stolen" from Al Gore. If you sing to this choir, as the New York Times now does, chances are that ever greater numbers of them will become subscribers (people read the news and views that reinforce their own opinions). So Raines may be damaging the brand, as Ellisblog asserts, but he's growing circulation while he does. And so long as he continues to grow the circ, his strategy will continue to enjoy the support of the Sulzbergers and The Street.