One of the nation’s leading newspaper publishers is undergoing a change in leadership, with Janet Robinson’s decision to step down as CEO of the New York Times Co., effective at the end of this year. Robinson’s retirement after 28 years with NYTCO was announced to staffers by publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., in a memo circulated Thursday afternoon. Sulzberger said he will fill in at the top spot while the company searches for a new CEO.
Sulzberger recounted Robinson’s achievements at NYTCO, noting that under her leadership “we have successfully transitioned to a multiplatform organization, and we have found new ways to reach new audiences, monetize content and stabilize our balance sheet during an uneven economy.”
Above all, Sulzberger credited Robinson with leading the creation of a national edition of the newspaper, and increasing its reach, influence and advertising revenues.
Robinson acknowledged the difficult circumstances which confronted the company -- and virtually every other major newspaper publisher -- at the end of her tenure: “Obviously, the last few years have been tough as, together, we have navigated one of the most difficult periods in publishing history," she noted. “Our balance sheet is strong, and we have a solid business plan and successful digital strategy in place that should serve the company well for many years into the future.”
Indeed, stabilizing NYTCO’s finances during a steep economic downturn and massive technological transformation of the media landscape may be remembered as Robinson’s greatest achievement.
From 2006 to 2010, total revenues declined from $2.15 billion to $1.3 billion -- a 39.5% drop, compared with an overall industry decline of 48% over the same period, per the Newspaper Association of America. Perhaps more significantly, during the first nine months of 2011 NYTCO’s total revenues declined just 3% to $1.68 billion, compared to an industry-wide decline of around 8%.