The case against NYT’s Sulzberger

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

“If Arthur Sulzberger were named Arthur Smith there is no way that he would be running New York Times Co., or any other publicly traded company for that matter,” writes Jonathan Berr. “His track record for shareholders is that bad.” Two years ago, John Koblin named Sulzberger “the media mensch of the year,” citing his support for the news side of the operation. Would the Times publisher get that award in 2011?

*The case against Arthur Sulzberger at New York Times

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4 comments
  1. James said:

    His “track record,” however, for the readers of the New York Times, including myself, an internet subscriber, is excellent. His two managing editors, Bill Keller and now Jill Abramson, have returned the New York Times from the debacles of the 1990’s and the Raines era into the finest newspaper in the country, bar none. I’m not at all sorry that he prioritizes the quality of the newspaper over the crass demands of the quarterly bottom line, as too many sad, devastated newspaper organizations have done — Tribune, McClatchy, Gannett, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post. All miserable shells of former news outfits, now money pits for their CEOs.

  2. Dan Mitchell said:

    Items like this predictably assess the Times as if it were just another widget-maker. Note the comparison to Ford in this case.

    It’s fine to assess how well or badly the Times is being run as a business, of course, but it’s hard to take seriously any such assessment that simply ignores the fact that the Times is a newspaper company, with a mission that goes far beyond the bottom line, and with constituencies other than shareholders – most of whom, presumably, know the Times will often make decisions that, in the short-term at least, might hurt the stock price. That’s why the dual stock structure that the writer offhandedly mentions as if it were unimportant (or perhaps silly.)

    And even as a pure business assessment, this is shallow. It leaves out all kinds of important factors. The drop in revenue is mentioned as if it were the fault of putting a bumbling, inbred scion in charge, when actually, the news media is in a depression and, given that, the NYT is actually doing pretty well. The implication is that if they had some savvier, more bottom-line-oriented person in Sulzberger’s place, the NYT would be doing much better. But there’s nothing to back up that implication, and Sulzberger actually has drawn a lot of praise for deftly managing the Times through both the depression and the shift to digital distribution.

  3. wubbly said:

    It certainly is a peerless lefty rag but all their tut-tutting about CEO pay seems to be more ironic than anything else. Next time Krugman holds forth on why we need ever more stimulus, he can also remind us as well about good corporate governance.

  4. H. Barca said:

    His name is Sulzberger. His family owns the Times. Investors knew what they were getting into. It’s not Ford. So, please shut up.