Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bill Keller Approaching the Haywire Stage

Site MeterManaging Editor Bill Keller shows that the whines can be so fine in the New York Times.

I think a little of the assertive defensiveness of Keller’s self-serving Apologia in this week's Sunday Magazine comes as a result of the hemorrhaging of New York Times paid circulation. Since the onset of his arrival three years ago as Managing Editor, the paid circ has gone down 21% and profits 57%. The NYT was put in the embarassing situation of having to get temporary financing from Carlos Slim, the Mexican superbillionaire, until they got through a particularly rough patch. And the way things are spiraling downward, it’ll be hard to pull the NYT out of terminal nosedive, say, five years out, despite their lucrative media holdings in Yankee and other broadcasting rights.

Also, Keller has gone so far as to enter the marketplace of ideas by a direct assault on his most successful competition. When he attacks Fox News in public, as happened recently, he is really attacking Murdoch, whose brilliant acquisition of the Wall Street Journal has completely flummoxed the Times. The WSJ recently became the highest paid circ newpaper in the country when it passed USA Today. The WSJ is gaining paid circ despite keeping most of its articles off-line. The NYT, whose paid circ is around 40% of the WSJ’s, is now reduced financially to adopting the Journal’s pay-to-see online format.

With Keller, methinks the gentleman doth protest too much. He’s in trouble and so is the NYT. And his Olympian pretenses continue, so that the comment section of the paper online is shut down by the time the non-early bird reader wants to pen a response. Opacity no longer implies veracity.

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