Print Becomes An Awkward Topic For New York Times Executives

arthur sulzberger pinch new york times

At the PaidContent conference today at the Times centre, New York Times senior vice president of digital operations Martin Nisenholtz got defensive about a piece published in The Guardian that criticised paywalls, especially since he was there to crow about the Times’ plan for a metered model in 2011.

“I don’t think the Guardian has come up with a business model that allows them to make money from the web,” he said the lunchtime panel discussion.

So a Guardian executive shot back.

After publisher Arthur Sulzberger and CEO Janet Robinson were sure to emphasise that all print subscribers would be able to access for free, the Guardian executive asked if their metered paywall model for 2011 was just another way for the company to support its print business “for as long as possible.” 

There was an uncomfortable paused as executives blinked at the question. After a pause and some nervous laughter, Robinson chimed in with their canned response: the metered model is about supporting two revenue streams. But the idea that print and digital subscriptions would be bundled together “really does endear us,” she added.

Sulzberger said earlier during the discussion that the Times doesn’t expect their digital revenues to sustain the paper. “This is not just our saying we’re going to make sufficient money in year one,” he said. “We believe this is where our world is going and we want to lead it.”

“It’s not about mass reach, it’s about the quality of people you reach,” he added.

So what kind of people are “quality?” We can take a guess.

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