Gary North Hangs Up on the NY Times

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Yesterday morning, a New York Times Op-Ed writer called me. He wanted to write a piece where I am quoted. I chose not to talk to him.

I asked him straight out: "How did you get my phone number?" He said a staffer had retrieved it. The number is unlisted.

I told him I was busy. I was in the middle of my monthly Remnant Review piece. I had a deadline to meet.

I told him to compliment his researcher.

I choose not to give interviews, except on rare occasions. I know how the game is played. It’s called selective quotation. I figure if an OpEd guy is after me, he will be highly selective.

If he has some published quotations from me, he can cite them. They are public. They are for citing. But the "phone interview" game I will not tolerate. I would have no record of what I said. The reader has no way to be sure I said it. The writer will not run the article by me to make sure that I approve.

He said he would say I refused to talk. Fair enough. I surely did.

He had to invade my privacy to get even that much out of me. He has the ethics of a telemarketer, but without the respect for sales.

The Times is slowly going bankrupt. Print media are dying. The Times is flailing around, desperately trying to find a revenue model that will work. It won’t find it.

In February, Mashable ran a story on the Times. Digital advertising revenues were up by 11.1% year to year, but this did not offset a 7.2% decline in print revenue. Overall revenue fell 2.9% in the 4th quarter of 2010, compared to 4th quarter 2009. Circulation revenue declined 3.1%.

Overall profit fell a full 26% compared to the same period in 2009. The company reported a profit of $67.1 million for the quarter, compared to a profit of $90.9 million in Q4 2009.

I note that 2009 was a recession year.

Janet Robinson, President and CEO, said this: "visibility remains limited." Visibility is clear to the rest of us. The Times is the Titanic. It has hit the iceberg.

Here is an April 21 press release from the Times.

NEW YORK, Apr 21, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) – The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) announced today 2011 first-quarter diluted earnings per share of $.04 per share compared with $.08 in the same period of 2010. Excluding severance and the special items discussed below, diluted earnings per share were $.02 per share in the first quarter of 2011 compared with $.11 in the first quarter of 2010.

Operating profit was $31.1 million in the first quarter of 2011 compared with $52.7 million in the same period of 2010. Excluding depreciation, amortization and severance, operating profit was $60.5 million in the first quarter of 2011 compared with $83.3 million in the first quarter of 2010.

Profits are fading fast. It is clear what is happening. The Times is going belly-up.

Janet Robinson is the right woman for the job. She is a master of the art of spin.

"Our operating performance reflects the continuing transformation of our Company, which intersected with an important milestone in the first quarter," said Janet L. Robinson, president and chief executive officer, The New York Times Company. "While the challenges for our Company and for the larger economy are not yet behind us, the recent launch of Times digital subscription packages on NYTimes.com and across other digital platforms brings our plan for a new revenue stream to life, offering us another reason for optimism about the future of our Company."

The staff will be cut. The influence of the paper will fade. It has faded considerably already. The joy within the conservative world will increase.

At least my caller has a career escape hatch. He can become a telemarketer.

His researcher is really good. That person does have a future – in police work, bail bond jumper tracking, or even the CIA.

This video will cheer you up. The Daily Show clearly sees the future of the Times.

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com. He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

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