As we end the year 2017, it’s perhaps fitting that The New York Times Company announced on Dec. 14 the appointment of A.G. Sulzberger as the company’s new publisher beginning on Jan. 1, while his father, Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., will step down at the end of the year.
The elder Sulzberger’s term as publisher of The New York Times aligns with a period of incredible change in the journalism industry. He took over the reins of the nation’s “paper of record” in 1992 and led the Times through the last 25 years, moving the Times online in 1996 and bringing in a paywall in 2011.
Today, The New York Times counts 2.5 million digital-only paid subscriptions.he company’s reported third-quarter operating profit was $33 million for 2017 compared with $9 million for the same period in 2016, according to its Nov. 1 earnings report.
While some of this rise is attributable to the sharp rise in digital subscriptions to major U.S. newspapers after the election of Donald Trump in Nov. 2016, the uplift in subscription revenue for major newspapers hasn’t trickled down to smaller, local news operations. For journalists and New Yorkers, this year was marked by the end of The Village Voice in print, while Chicago’s RedEye cut back in January from a daily operation to become a weekly paper.
The changes to journalism in 2017 follow the trend since 2006, based on data published by the Pew Research Center. Advertising revenues have crashed to a third of what they were 10 years ago, and circulation revenues haven’t made up the difference. There’s less money in the journalism industry in 2017 than in 2007.
And newsroom employees at the Los Angeles Times will conduct an election in January 2018 to determine if they will form a union after the paper’s owner, Tronc, paid their executives more than $19 million in 2016, a rise of 80.4 percent compared with 2015.
So what’s next for the Fourth Estate in the U.S.? In the immediate future, probably nothing.
But the ‘Trump bump’ for newspapers have probably provided the impetus necessary to push the industry from an advertiser-driven business model to one funded and driven by its readers.
As Google and Facebook are expected to receive over 63.1 percent of U.S. digital advertising revenues by market research company eMarketer, advertiser-supported publications will either change their business models – or disappear forever.