Sulzfreude: New York Times posts record loss

Not long ago, I received an angry e-mail regarding my linking to stories from the New York Times. The critic said that he expected a conservative site to ignore the paper and instead look for sources in conservative media outlets. The letter closed with an accusation that I would quit Hot Air in, well, a New York minute if the Gray Lady showed me a little leg and a lot of cash.

Somehow, this article in the New York Times answers all of those criticisms:

The New York Times Company, the parent of The New York Times, posted a $335,000 loss in the first quarter — one of the worst periods the company and the newspaper industry have seen — falling far short of both analysts’ expectations and its $23.9 million profit in the quarter a year earlier.

The company did break even on a per-share basis, compared with the average analyst forecast of earnings of 14 cents, down from 17 cents in the first quarter of 2007.

The company’s main source of revenue, newspaper advertising in print and online, fell 10.6 percent, the sharpest drop in memory, as the industry suffers the twin blows of an economic downturn and the continuing long-term shift of readers and advertisers to the Internet.

I guess they’d have to show me a lot of leg now that the cash has disappeared.

The entire newspaper industry has taken it on the chin in the new digital age, but this appears more damaging than most in their class. The industry downturn can only explain part of this. Advertising fell by 8% in the last year overall, less than the 10.6% seen in the NYT, one of the most prominent newspapers in the country. Why have advertisers fled the Paper of Record faster than the industry average? If anything, the Times’ reputation should have allowed it to outperform its rivals for advertisers.

Ah, but there’s the rub. The Times’ reputation has taken severe body blows over the last few years as it has transformed itself from a news organization to an advocacy group. Its politics has always leaned leftward, but that tilt has become a full-fledged flop. The nadir of this came this year, when the paper accused John McCain of having a sexual affair with a lobbyist on the basis of no evidence at all.

That’s also the irony of the e-mail I received. I spend most of my linkage to the Gray Lady criticizing its coverage, although just like with any organization, some of its reporters do good work, notably John Burns on Iraq. Its editorial board serves as a constant embarrassment to reason and logic, and a constant source of commentary for myself and many other bloggers. It comes as no surprise that the Sulzberger regime has now entered the red on the books, given the decay we’ve seen and noted over the last several years.