“There’s still a lot of work to do, and it’s a scary world.” Thus Michael Golden, vice chairman of The New York Times Company, publisher of the homonymous newspaper. In an interview with Argentine newspaper La Nación, Golden redefines his storied employer. “We are not a newspaper with a website,” he says. “We are a digital communication media company that publishes a newspaper.” At some point, he predicts with certainty, the newspaper will stop printing and will become digital only.
Golden warns that there is no silver bullet to cope with the challenges that the Internet era and the new technologies have ushered in for traditional journalism. Yet, against all odds and expectations, the company’s paywall paid off. The New York Times is now set to count about one and a half million subscribers by the end of the year.
The paradigm has been inverted. Big advertising, in which a handful of people made decisions on large investments, can no longer be counted on. Instead, The New York Times puts its faith on small economic decisions by many people.
Further, the newspaper’s income from online and print subscriptions is on the rise as advertising revenue keeps dropping. Still, it is not a model that can guarantee “quality journalism.” That casts a dark cloud over the reliability of information audiences have come to expect.
While he insists that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for newspapers, Golden points out a few patterns that apply to the industry across the board. They can be summed up in three principles: the future of newspapers is fully digital; the larger the audience, the better; and, capturing these readership is critical. Take it from a newspaper that has been around since 1851.