Help Fix the New York Times! (NYT)

Jeff Jarvis asked everyone to submit ideas on how to fix the New York Times Company. Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson responds with some good ones (below). The dissident shareholder group trying to reform the company also has some plans (also below). Have other good ideas? Please post to the comments below.

Fred Wilson’s Fixes:

Jeff Jarvis asks:

So now the hedge funds pushing New York Times Company management own about as much as the Sulzberger family. I don’t know whether they’ll win their effort to elect directors to the board, but I do think this has reached a critical mass and that the family and management will be forced to make strategic changes. So I’m curious: what would you change? The hedge funds are urging the company to divest some assets and concentrate on the Times, investing in digital. What do you suggest?

I’d spin off The NY Times (paper and online) into a separate company and bring in new management to run it. I’d liquidate the rest of the assets, possibly including

I’d make the NY Times all about their audience. Let the people who read the paper have a much larger role in the content that gets published, both online and offline.

The best thing about the NY Times is their readers. The only way they can fix their problems is by leveraging them as the other half of their newsroom.

> I’d like to acknowledge my friend Dave Morgan for helping me frame my thoughts on this.

Dissident Shareholder Fixes:

  • Sell off all non-core assets, including: NYT building (estimated value $1 billion) Stakes in sports teams Regional newspapers
  • NYT building (estimated value $1 billion)
  • Stakes in sports teams
  • Regional newspapers
  • Consider selling Boston Globe and
  • Use the proceeds of these sales to buy new digital assets
  • Use the massive traffic to and About, etc., to better monetise the newly acquired digital assets.
  • Boost the monetization of core (which lags some competitors)
  • Shift the company’s mindset to be more of a digital media conglomerate instead of THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY (thus eliminating some of the cultural baggage that goes with that).

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