"I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care either," New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger said at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, last week.
Sulzberger says the New York Times is on a journey that will conclude the day the company decides to stop printing the paper. That will mark the end of the transition. It's a long journey, and there will be bumps on the road, says the man at the driving wheel, but he doesn't see a black void ahead.
The New York Times recently merged its print and online news desks. Did it go smoothly, or were there ruffled feathers? Which team is leading the way today?
"You know what a newspaper's news desk is like? It's like the emergency room at a hospital, or an office in the military. Both organizations are very goal-oriented, and both are very hard to change," Sulzberger says.
Once change begins, it happens quickly, so the transition was difficult, he says. "But once the journalists grasped the concept, they flipped and embraced it, and supported the move." That included veteran managers, too.
"We live in the Internet world. We have, for example, five people working in a special development unit whose only job is to initiate and develop things related to the electronic world - Internet, cellular, whatever comes.
In the age of bloggers, what is the future of online newspapers and the profession in general? There are millions of bloggers out there, and if the Times forgets who and what they are, it will lose the war, and rightly so, according to Sulzberger. "We are curators, curators of news. People don't click onto the New York Times to read blogs. They want reliable news that they can trust," he says.
"We aren't ignoring what's happening. We understand that the newspaper is not the focal point of city life as it was 10 years ago.
"Once upon a time, people had to read the paper to find out what was going on in theater. Today there are hundreds of forums and sites with that information," he says. "But the paper can integrate material from bloggers and external writers. We need to be part of that community and to have dialogue with the online world."
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