Memo to President Trump: The New York Times is alive and well
No, Mr. Trump, The New York Times is not #failing. If anything, it’s thriving — thanks in great part to you.
In its second-quarter earnings report, The New York Times Co., parent of The New York Times, said it surpassed the 2 million mark for paid digital-only subscriptions, which the media company claims is a first for any news organization.
Another milestone: During the second quarter of 2017, digital subscription revenue surpassed print advertising revenue for the first time.
As the media business collectively wrings its hands over the decline of print revenue and the uncertain future of digital revenue, it’s clear that The New York Times is succeeding in the digital era, albeit with a leaner staff. And a healthy amount of credit goes to the Pulitzer-worthy journalism that The Times is producing.
“We believe that the demand for quality in-depth journalism is growing, not only in the U.S., but across the globe,” Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Co., told Wall Street analysts. “We can see that in the response of users to Times journalism and in the growth of our digital audience. And we believe that more and more people are prepared to pay to access this kind of journalism. That’s the foundation of our strategy.”
At least for now, that foundation is sturdy. As long as the Trump White House continues to generate white-hot headlines and the news-consuming public maintains a healthy appetite for news from our nation’s capital, that foundation should become even sturdier.
In the conference call, Thompson did give a nod to the president. He noted that both domestic and international subscribers have been drawn to The Times website to stay on top of the “very sensitive” news that has engulfed Trump. New subscribers to this “elite” and “liberal” fixture of the mainstream media even have come from the center of the U.S. — much of which is red-state territory.
Clearly, great journalism pays off, and great journalism is capable of attracting a global audience, some of whom may attack The Times’ supposed liberal bias.
The extraordinary surge in hard-hitting journalism not just from The Times but the likes of The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC News and Politico bodes well for digital media. This feisty brand of journalism certainly will benefit The New York Times Co. as it aims for $100 million in annual digital revenue by 2020.
At The New York Times, the constant stream of scoops isn’t just lifting revenue, though. It’s also lifting the spirits of the reporting and editing ranks. Thompson noted that shortly before the second-quarter earnings release, The Times raked in eight Emmy nominations in the news-and-documentary category — eight Emmy nominations for an organization whose lofty history is steeped in newsprint and ink.
To be sure, the Gray Lady, as The New York Times is known, is seeing some green on its balance sheet as a result of its solid reporting on the tumult in the District. During the second quarter, total ad revenue for The New York Times Co. grew for the first time since the third quarter of 2014, ending a nearly three-year drought.
Until Trump leaves office or somehow changes his ways, it’s a pretty good bet that The Times and a slew of other media outfits that are striving to squeeze revenue out of their digital operations will keep reaping financial rewards as well as accolades.
Stay tuned, Mr. President, as you keep your finger on the remote control and your hashtags loaded up for Twitter.
John Egan is a writer and editor in Austin, Texas.
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