End times for the New York Times?

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End times for the New York Times?

Jan 07 2009

Michael Hirschorn, writing for The Atlantic, reports on the dire circumstances facing The New York Times, or at least its print edition. The article opines that recent earnings reports indicate that, unless drastic steps are taken, it's possible that the paper will default on its $400 million debt in about five months. The paper, with more than $1billion in debt on its books and cash reserves of about $46 million, is currently trading at junk status on the capital markets.

The paper’s credit crisis comes against a backdrop of ongoing and accelerating drops in circulation, massive cutbacks in advertising revenue, and the worst economic climate in almost 80 years.

It is considered unlikely that The Times would cease to exist altogether but that it is possible that The Times and other newspapers will have to move to digital-only distribution (perhaps preserving the more profitable Sunday editions). Already, most readers of The Times are consuming it online. The Web site, nytimes.com, boasted 20 million unique users for the month of October, making it the fifth-ranked news site on the Internet in terms of total visitors.

The conundrum is that those 1 million print readers, who pay actual cash money for the privilege of consuming the paper, and who are worth about five figures a page to advertisers, are far more profitable than the 20 million unique Web users, who don’t and aren’t.

Source: The Atlantic

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