The New York Times is laying off about 7.5% of its newsroom staff in another round of cuts, but what interests us about this latest trim job is this:
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the newspaper’s publisher, and Mark Thompson, its chief executive, said that in addition to the job cuts, NYT Opinion, a new mobile app dedicated to opinion content, was shutting down because it was not attracting enough subscribers.
The Times continues to cut muscle, but the fat seems to remain. Krugman, Gail Collins, Maureen Dowd, Frank Bruni et. al., who have long since lost any connection they may have had to anyone not on their Kool-Aid diet, remain, while the real strength of the paper, which actually can and does provide solid reporting on topics removed from the editorial agenda, ebbs away on a steady current of deletion.
Meanwhile, the paper that some time ago decided that the best counteroffensive to the internet’s speed was to abandon reporting in favor of “thought leadership” suddenly learns that no one really gives a shit about its “opinions.”
There is no more sports page in any real sense. Most of the content is either agenda-driven, focused on topics such as head injuries, football team names, naughty athletes and a bizarre addiction to the WNBA — or puff pieces of the sort that Sports Illustrated used to run in the 60s. The business page is fine, but no real news is broken there — that’s for Bloomberg, Reuters and other web-driven folks — and I’m sure the dining/home/arts etc. sections have their fans, but who buys a paper for that?
The Times had some illusion that people would read their paper because they wanted to know what to think. It has run out new offensives on this premise, like “The Upshot,” a remarkably dull-witted and flimsy feature, and the just-cited web page.
Someone must have thought this was a gamesaver for a failing paper in a paper-failing era. The Times assumed — and often clumsily and condescendingly stated outright — that today’s issues are far too complex for most folks, who would gladly and greedily welcome being spoon-fed their opinions by the wiser sachems of the Times.
Doesn’t look like it from here.