The Gray Lady has fallen and she can’t get up, as Murdoch comes in for the kill on the NY Times with hyperlocal news 7/3/07Posted by Steve Boriss in Murdoch, NY Post, NY Times.
As the days pass, it is becoming clearer and clearer that Rupert Murdoch sees blood in the water at the NY Times (NYT) and he is coming in for the kill. With a stock price half of what it was 5 years ago, classified ad revenues down 13%, retail ad revenues down 15%, and a Morgan Stanley-led stockholder revolt on its hands, the Gray Lady has fallen and it looks like she can’t get up. The damage that Murdoch’s NY Post has inflicted on the NYT is often overlooked because the Post’s 725K circulation (+8%) seems to be dwarfed by the NYT’s much larger 1,120K circ (-2%). But when you consider that about half of the Times’ circulation is outside the NY area, it becomes clear that the NY Post has a big lead in the geographic area that matters most to advertisers and profits. Not that Murdoch is keeping his intentions secret — he said last week “the New York Times [has] got the only position as a national elitist general-interest paper…It has a huge influence. And we’d love to challenge it.”
Now, Murdoch is hitting the Times when it’s down by getting a jump on hyperlocal news, which ultimately may be the only thing left for metro dailies to grab onto to survive. His purchase of two more sub-metro weeklies now gives him hyperlocal resources in 3 of the City’s 5 boroughs, as reported by the NYT itself. This is happening at the same time the NYT is launching its hyperlocally-misguided City Room, a centralized operation that is exactly the opposite of the decentralized operations that will be required to provide hyperlocal news. Unless dramatic changes happen soon, the country’s “Paper of Record” might eventually not be worth much more than the value of its prestigious brand name.