Jul 18 2005

MSM Losing Value

Published by at 8:16 am under All General Discussions

I have maintained for years (pre Strata-Sphere Blog of course) that the MSM was playing a very costly and risky game by not diversifying their staff and halting their drive towards the liberal fringes. Liberals only make up 20% of the population, so you cannot really retain national (let alone international) leadership in any market niche with that as your base. And that should be a concern to investors and the boards of these companies as rogue idealists turn brand names known for facts and objectivity into propoganda houses.

And in recent years the liberal fringe has become so shrill and angry they tend to repulse the other 80%. Recall the polling results from Dick Durbins adventure into the fever swamps?

And now these predictions are coming true. BizzyBlog has some data that shows the fall the NYTimes has already had (hat tip: Instapundit)

On top of all of this, The New York Times is a publicly-held company (symbol NYT). It has a responsibility to attempt to earn a reasonable return for its investors.

How is it doing in that area? Two words–not well: The stock has taken a 40% dive, from its June 20, 2002 high of $52.79 to a Friday close at $31.20. The Times’ daily and Sunday circulations both declined more than 3% between March 2002 and March 2005. Its other major newpaper property, The Boston Globe, has experienced similar hits to its credibility in the past five years and has seen its circulation decline even more steeply.

Do they care? Apparently not. While there will always be tension between newsroom and business priorities (all kinds of stories have the potential of ticking off advertisers), The Times attitude appears to be “the investors be damned” (HT #2 to Poor and Stupid):

Daniel Okrent, a former Times public editor, stresses that his old employer “has the freedom to take positions that they deem to be in the interest of journalism without fear of the reaction of public stockholders.”

All of this makes me wonder how many years it will take for The Times to transform itself into an alternative newpaper read only in Manhattan and at DNC headquarters in Washington.

I think they could accomplish that before the end of the decade if they keep trying as hard as they are now.

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