'NYT' CEO Gives Its Print Edition 10 Years

Early last week, The New York Times CEO Mark Thompson made a bold statement on CNBC’s Power Lunch: the paper’s print run may last only another decade.

"The key thing for us is that we're pivoting," Thompson stated. "Our plan is to go on serving our loyal print subscribers as long as we can. But meanwhile, to build up the digital business, so that we have a successful growing company and a successful news operation long after print is gone."



In an era where publishing stalwarts like Hearst and Conde Nast have turned some of their legacy brands strictly digital, it’s no surprise newspapers are thinking along those same lines.

However, even with all the good news coming from The Times regarding its digital advances—passing the 1 million digital subscription mark, earnings up more than 51% this quarter compared to a year ago and overall subscription revenue up 19.2%—the idea of The Gray Lady becoming solely a digital empress is still shocking.

There in lies the tension. As publishers see more success in the digital realm, one may forget that those advances make print all the more vulnerable.

"We'll decide simply on the economics," Thompson stated. "There may come a point when the economics of [the print paper] no longer make sense for us."

However, according to a study from the Pew Research Center, younger readers are more likely than older adults to prefer to read their news, which is great news for outlets like The New York Times. Per the study, 42% of people between the ages of 18-29 prefer reading to watching or listening to the news, while 40% of people between 30-49 prefer the same.

Yes, these groups are more likely to read their news digitally—print subscriptions for many papers are at an all-time low. Thompson states in his TV spot that The Times print edition struggles—but enthusiasm for news consumption isn’t languishing. 

In the coming years, the digital publishing world will deliver many more surprises. While its difficult to transition one’s view of a legacy publication like the printed version of the NYT moving from indispensable to relic, the fact that more people are paying for journalism is heartening.

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