#The New York Times

Michael Moritz on the recently-leaked internal New York Times internal operating memo:

The overwhelming sense from the report is that, except for the desire to refashion its rich trove of archived material, the Times hierarchy is still too busy paying homage to the past. Here are some telling examples. The printed newspaper still carries the slogan, “All the news that’s fit to print” - a slogan that is now so patently false that it sounds like a spoof borrowed from The Onion.


Jeff Bercovici sat down with Gawker’s Nick Denton in an interview for Playboy:

PLAYBOY: Speaking of the establishment, what will The New York Times look like in 10 years? Will it exist? Will the Sulzberger family still own it, or will they have sold it, perhaps to Michael Bloomberg?

DENTON: The New York Times will exist. Someone else will own it. Most families, the more generations they are from the original founder, the more fragmented the ownership, and eventually the nephews, grandnieces and great-great-grandchildren want their money now. They’d rather take the purchase price than zero dividends. I think the Times has bottomed out, and now, even though the signs are mixed, it will be able to put on more in digital revenue than it loses in print. Or I hope so, because I like the Times. There should be at least one or two survivors. Even when a major disaster kills most life on earth, usually a few species survive. Dinosaurs survived and became birds. Maybe that’s the future of The New York Times: It will be the survivor of the dinosaurs, the little tweeting thing you see flying around.

The entire interview is well worth your time.

Christine Haughney on the future plans of The New York Times to make money:

The plans vary from news-based products, like video, mobile apps and expanded international coverage, to tangential revenue producers like one-day conferences and cruises featuring Times reporters and columnists as expert speakers.

Yes, that’s actually part of the plan. Cruises.

Everyone is focusing on the fact that The New York Times bought The Globe for $1.1 billion in 1993 and has now sold it for just $70 million two decades later — but what about the fact that the sale also includes the Telegram and Gazette, which The Times bought for $295 million in 1999?

Yes, The Globe is being sold for far less than The Times paid for the Telegram & the Gazette. And yes, the sale price now includes those two as well. It’s just a stunning loss of value all around.

The New York Times reporting that The New York Times is not for sale:

On Monday, The Washington Post Company announced it would sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com’s founder, Jeffrey P. Bezos, for $250 million. The sale of The Post by the Graham family, which owned it for 80 years, leaves The Times as one of the few major American newspapers still run by a family.

In an interview published last week in The Daily Beast, Mr. Sulzberger addressed rumors that a media mogul like Mayor Michael Bloomberg might purchase The Times at some point. “Imagine. People talk. What a shock,” Mr. Sulzberger is quoted as saying. “The Times,” he says, slapping his palm on the table, “is Not. For. Sale.”


Matthew Yglesias:

Like everyone else I’ve seen the headlines remarking on the fact that a New York Times Company which bought The Boston Globe for over a billion dollars is selling it this weekend for just $70 million. But if you read the body text of those articles you’ll see that the paper actually sold for much less than $70 million. It in fact sold for a negative quantity of money.

That’s because the terms under which John Henry is buying the paper stick the New York Times Company with the Globe’s pension obligations, which are said to amount to around $110 million. Which is to say that the worth of the overall Globe enterprise is negative $40 million, not $70 million.


Om Malik arguing that the New York Times should fight the scrappy news upstarts not by playing their game, but by rising above:

Now, if they can actually overcome their angst — and it hurts me to say this — they can change the conversation in the media business away from the increasingly shallow content and instead bring the focus back to quality and in-depth journalism, which is their stock in trade. If the New York Times management were feeling bold, it would put $25 million to work on creating 100 other Snow Falls and basically change the reader’s expectations of what long-form digital content and journalism are in the new century.

Snow Fall is fairly amazing.

It causes me a certain amount of pleasure today watching the New York Times Company try to cope with the consequences of the technology they laughed at.

Marc Andreessen, speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Monday. 

It was the same talk in which Peter Thiel predicted that Twitter would out-live the New York Times — which obviously had a lot of folks in the media industry up-in-arms. I’m sure the Times will continue to exist in some form for a long time, I just wonder how long it will be until they stop printing the actual paper. I bet it’s a lot sooner than a lot of people imagine. 

John Gruber is all over the fallout of the This American Life/Mike Daisey fiasco.

The New York Times ran an op-ed by Daisey about his fabricated tales (the day after Steve Jobs passed away, no less). CBS News had a report in January widely citing Daisey.

So far, this all appears to be unrelated to the separate NYT article that kicked off the “iEconomy” series. But is there any question that Daisey’s initial “reports” at least in part led to these subsequent reports?

Reports that seemed to focus solely on Apple for no real reason beyond the fact that they’re now the largest tech company in the world with a possible blindspot thanks to Daisey’s story. 

Reports filled with suggestions that Tim Cook called “patently false and offensive”.

Speaking of tech writers not actually knowing what they’re talking about, Henry Blodget wrote the following words this week:

The NYT’s gadget guru, David Pogue, did get a sneak-preview review copy of Apple’s new operating system for a week, which is another favor Apple PR gives to approved journalists. But he does not appear to have gotten access to Apple’s execs, the way John Gruber and the WSJ did. 

Compelling, when you consider that such a move could be backlash for The New York Times’ “iEconomy” series. The only problem? Total bullshit.

As Gruber himself corrects:

By sheer coincidence, I can report that this is nonsense. When I left my briefing with Schiller last Wednesday in New York, waiting in the hallway for the next briefing was: David Pogue.

See also: Blodget taking a shit on Twitter’s product direction days before it’s revealed that Twitter will now be built into each and every copy of OS X Mountain Lion.

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

A lot of people have asked for my take on The New York Times piece yesterday about the true cost of making Apple products in China. Let me first just say that it’s an important piece full of good reporting by Charles Duhigg and David Barboza. Parts of it are very sad — sickening, really.

But let’s be honest. The post focuses on Apple because Apple is now arguably the most successful company on the planet. If they were, say, the 8th largest computer manufacturer, they probably wouldn’t have even been mentioned. Again, that’s not to say it shouldn’t have been written — it absolutely should have — but it’s important to keep that in mind.

The real key here is that this story could have been written about any number of technology companies that have to deal with hardware manufacturing. This sad state of affairs is the way the world works in this space. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naive.

Does that excuse Apple’s behavior in some situations? Not at all. But there also isn’t enough background here to know if Apple is even the worst enabler of these poor working conditions. That’s sort of implied a few times in the piece, but never fully backed up.

My TechCrunch colleague Devin Coldewey wrote a great response to the piece. As he writes:

Something the article only fleetingly acknowledges is that Foxconn is used by most of the major electronics brands in the world. Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, and the rest all contract with Foxconn to manufacture, assemble, or finish their products. The threatened mass suicide the other week was, in fact, at an Xbox production facility.

And later:

So it has never been a surprise to me when I hear that Apple, and others, only do so much to change the situation in factories and factory towns in China. The simple fact of it is they’re not the ones at the reins. Foxconn and China have our all-important tech companies by the scruff of the neck, and bear the big bad audits by Apple (more likely by people representing people representing Apple) like they’d bear a kitten swiping at their face. It’s a high stakes game, and Foxconn and its like hold all the cards.

That’s something important that the NYT never addresses. The situation is decidedly more complicated than Apple simply turning a blind eye. 

While this report brings such an issue to the forefront, similar pieces and stories surface quite frequently, actually. Guess what changes? Nothing. It’s shitty to say, but it’s the truth. And we all know it. 

The fact of the matter is that we live in a world that demands amazing technology delivered to us at low costs and at great speed. That world leads to Foxconn.

We say we care about the means by which the results are reached when we read stories such as this one. But then we forget. Or we chose not to remember. We buy things and we’re happy that they’re affordable. And then we buy more things. And more. With huge smiles on our faces. Without a care in the world.