The New York Times eyes more changes to meet digital challenge

February 4, 2016

NEW YORK – The New York Times is eyeing further changes to its newsroom to meet the growing challenges of digital, it said Thursday, as the company reported a rise in profits.

On the heels of its quarterly report, the prestigious daily — seeking to navigate a shift to digital readership — said executive editor Dean Baquet and longtime journalist David Leonhardt would lead a review of operations.

“We need to develop a strategic plan for what The New York Times should be and determine how to apply our timeless values to a new age,” Baquet said in a memo to staff cited by the newspaper. “Although our digital revenue is growing strongly, we continue to feel the impact of declines in parts of our print business. That means the company must continue to carefully manage its costs.”

During a conference call to discuss earnings, New York Times Co. chief executive Mark Thompson indicated some shifts were coming.

He said that in the coming months “we will take a close look at our existing cost base, even as we make targeted investments in our digital future.”

“We know that success for us depends on the quality of journalism we offer our users here and around the world, and we must maintain that quality.”

“Nonetheless, we believe that alongside investment in our newsroom and elsewhere, there is scope for further structural savings across our cost base.”

The company reported profit rose to $51.7 million in the fourth quarter from $34.9 million a year earlier. Revenue held unchanged at $444.7 million.

The earnings report said operating costs were trimmed 4.1 percent in the quarter.

Circulation revenues got a lift from growth in digital subscriptions and an increase in home-delivery prices, which offset a decline in print copies sold.

The number of paid digital-only subscribers rose to 1,094,000 as of the end of the fourth quarter, a rise of 53,000 in that period and up 20 percent from a year earlier.

Print advertising revenue decreased 6.6 percent while digital advertising revenue increased 10.6 percent in the quarter. Digital accounted for 24 percent of total ad revenue.

The daily has made strong gains in paid online readership.

But in terms of overall online visitors it was overtaken last year by The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos since 2013.

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