Sulzberger to staff: We’ll cover BBC scandal ‘with objectivity and rigor’

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. tells his staff: “We will cover the Savile story with objectivity and rigor. [Incoming Times Co. CEO] Mark [Thompson] endorses that completely as do I. Both of us believe passionately in strong, objective journalism that operates without fear or favor, no matter what it is covering. We have dedicated a significant amount of resources to this story and this is evident by the coverage we have provided our readers.”

The full letter that Sulzberger sent to employees this morning:

October 25, 2012

On the Record — Third Quarter 2012

Arthur writes: Dear Colleagues,

Our third-quarter results announced this morning reflect a challenging advertising environment in both print and digital, which was affected by a number of factors including uncertainty in the global economy, the rapidly changing habits of consumers and the increasing complexity and fragmentation of the digital advertising marketplace. We expect overall advertising revenue trends to be similar for the fourth quarter.

Mark Thompson

On a better note, our results also reflect continued growth in our circulation revenues led by the ongoing expansion of our digital subscription base, both at The Times and the Globe. As of the end of September, paid digital subscriptions across our Company totaled 592,000, up 11 percent from the end of the second quarter.

When you put it all together, the Times Company had an operating profit of $8.5 million in the third quarter of 2012 compared with $21 million in the same period of 2011. Excluding depreciation, amortization and severance, operating profit was $34 million in the third quarter of 2012 compared with $47.7 million in the third quarter of 2011./CONTINUES
There is much hard work ahead for all of us. We are aware of the challenging economic and business climate we face and over the past three months we have taken a number of decisive actions to better position our Company for the future. High among them is that Mark Thompson, the former director-general of the BBC, will join us as our new president and CEO on November 12.

Second was our sale of the About Group, which will allow us to focus on the development and growth of our core brands. And in early October, our interest in Indeed.com was sold. The after-tax proceeds from these two sales further strengthened our liquidity and our financial flexibility.

As you know, we are all focused on seeking and developing opportunities to broaden and deepen reader interaction. At The Times, due to your efforts, we have enhanced and continue to broaden our presence in video, mobile and social engagement. Our multifaceted coverage of the presidential election and the debates are excellent examples of this innovative work. We have also made strides in growing our global footprint, as illustrated by this month’s announcement of our plans to launch a Portuguese-language site for readers in Brazil, one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

At the New England Media Group, BostonGlobe.com recently marked its one-year anniversary and continues to make steady progress in growing paid digital subscriptions. The team has implemented a variety of initiatives to increase reader interest and engagement, and to strengthen subscription opportunities. And the August launch of Boston.com’s new live streaming radio station, RadioBDC, is just the latest of the site’s ongoing efforts to broaden its reach in the market.

I want to address a topic that has been on many people’s minds. You no doubt have read the recent reports of a controversy regarding the BBC’s decision in late 2011 to cancel a news story investigating allegations of sexual abuse and molestation by an on-air BBC talent, Jimmy Savile, who died last year. Mark has provided a detailed account of that matter, and I am satisfied that he played no role in the cancellation of the segment.

In the months leading to our decision to bring Mark to the Times Company, Michael Golden, our vice chairman, and I, along with the rest of our Board of Directors, got to know Mark very well. Our opinion was then and remains now that he possesses high ethical standards and is the ideal person to lead our Company as we focus on growing our businesses through digital and global expansion. Some of you have already had the opportunity to meet Mark and many more of you will in the coming weeks and months. We are all looking forward to that day when he takes the helm.

As you all instinctively know, but it is worth stating again, we will cover the Savile story with objectivity and rigor. Mark endorses that completely as do I. Both of us believe passionately in strong, objective journalism that operates without fear or favor, no matter what it is covering. We have dedicated a significant amount of resources to this story and this is evident by the coverage we have provided our readers.

If you would like to hear more about our financial results, you can listen to the Webcast of our earnings conference call here and you can review the Company’s full third-quarter earnings press release, including a reconciliation of our GAAP results, here(pdf).

Thank you all for your continued dedication to our goal — to provide the highest quality news and information to our readers and advertisers — and for your focus on our future.

Arthur

Comments

comments