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The Times Says Sometime

The Huffington Post is headlining remarks by New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. from a speech delivered at the International Newsroom Summit in London. Reported on by the EditorsWebLog, Sulzberger responded to a question concerning the New York Times print edition’s future by acknowledging that someday it will no longer exist: “Asked about his response to the suggestion that the NYT might print its last edition in 2015, Sulzberger said he saw no point in making such predictions and said all he could say was that ‘we will stop printing the New York Times sometime in the future, date TBD.’”

Of course we all know this is inevitable, but there is still something final about hearing him say that one day, date to be determined, there will be no print edition of The New York TImes. This is the same person that I recently wrote about in the Nieman Reports:

I still remember a mid-1990’s Nieman conference in which Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the new publisher of The New York Times, somewhat cockily announced that, while grateful to the Internet pioneers, the brand names had arrived and like Old West homesteaders would now be claiming the territory.”

It’s only been fifteen years, and their brand name certainly has not claimed the territory. Now, according to the report on his speech, the Times sounds like it is in need of considerable help:

The paper recently developed a tighter level of integration with Facebook, and Sulzberger hopes that the NYT will be able to build a tighter emotional bond with their readers by encouraging them to come to NYTimes.com with their own identities, and by allowing them to find NYT content wherever they might be.”

He also acknowledges that they don’t know if the new paywall will work. But none of this should be viewed as failure, Sulzberger asserted:

A further incentive towards experimentation is that in the digital age, the cost of changing is low. ‘If we discover that we’ve tried something that’s not working, we could change it.’ This should not be seen as failure, he emphasized, but as a willingness to adapt and learn. The TimesSelect experiment in 2007 was not aborted because of a failure to succeed, Sulzberger insisted, but because the paper thought it could make more money from advertising revenue.”

We wish them well.

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