Sunday, January 09, 2005

Business Week does a cover story on the problems facing The New York Times and we learn such wonderful tidbits as:

* That Sulzberger (the Publisher of the Times, who owes his job to his families control of the Times - it's certainly not because of his talents) is in denial when it comes to admitting that the Times is liberal. Punch, when your own ombudsman says you are liberal, you are liberal. Pinch, it wasn't his column that resulted in the Times painting a "bull's-eye on itself" with regards to conservatives criticizing the Times - we've long had complaints about the ideological slant present in each and every issue.

* That the way Sulzberger avoids having to use the word liberal to describe his paper is by substituting 'urban' (and us conservatives are suburban-rural'). Hey, if liberal Democrats can start calling themselves moderates, why can't the NYT re-define themselves as well. Of course, everybody knows the cities are liberal and the suburbs aren't - so I'm not sure how many are being fooled by Sulzberger's sleight of hand.

* They blame their problems on their readers with the claim that the "growing polarization of the body politic along ideological lines.. is hurting the Times". No, what is hurting the Times is that they are no longer the only game in town - for their (former) readers or for their (former) advertisers.

* That they think of themselves as fair because they get a lot of complaints from those on the left. Actually, those complaints just show that the left, realizing they are on the short end of the vote, is really desperate and is screaming for all of their reliable allies to pick up the slack.

* That the Sulzburgers have been screwing their shareholders for years upon years by "valuing good journalism and the prestige it confers over profits". Hey, it's wrong any time corporate management runs a public company for their benefit of their own ego instead of looking to serve their stockholders - whether it be Dennis Kozlowski at Tyco or the Sulzbergers at the NYT. I'm sure all of the stockholders were happy to sacrifice profits (and the rise in the stock price that would accompany a rise in profits) so that Sulzberger could feel that was just right in his "rarified world". And, by the way, it's not a defense to point out that the stock price went up - so did Tyco's and that doesn't excuse what Kozlowski was doing. And, unsurprisingly, the writers of the article fail to note the hypocricy of the Times in railing against other companies while not touching upon their own transgressions.

* They miss the forest for the trees with the claim that what "a growing, or at least increasingly strident, segment of the population seems to want is not journalism untainted by the personal views of journalists but coverage that affirms their partisan beliefs". Actually, we do want unbiased journalism - it just doesn't exist. If we can't have that, we might as well look to those who share our political viewpoints.

* That Business Week's writers are as infatuated with the Internet as every dot.com enthusiast ever was. I'm referring to their claim that the NYT is making serious money from their online activities. While their efforts are profitable, how is $17.3 million in profits from on-line activities 'enviable' compared with the $290 million the company as a whole was estimated to have made in 2004? Usually a division that contributes less than 2% of total revenues and 6% of the total profit is ripe for sale or shut down. Yeah guys, the internet is going to save the Times.

* That the Times is "is much more responsive to outside complaints and criticism than it was". Really? I don't believe Tom Maguire and Don Luskin would agree. Actually, if responsive just means sending form letters out of the ombudman's office to all of their critics, then maybe they are - just like a customer service department would be responsive if they were to send out to their complaining customers a letter that basically said "We're in receipt of your complaint and we've decide that you are wrong and we are right and we are not going to change anything that we are doing and if you don't like it, go somewhere else". Hey, isn't that what the Times' readers have done?

* And, the word blog doesn't seem to exist in their world. Or maybe we just don't matter. Ah, same thing. Maybe some day they'll figure it out.