International Herald Tribune Website Joins Dinosaurs

The International Herald Tribune website--sister site of NYTimes.com--will soon shut down, citing "growth" opportunities. Forbes's James Erik Abels reports:

The Times told staff in an internal e-mail Tuesday that the paper's flagship Web site will soon become host to news from sister paper the International Herald Tribune and that the Tribune's site will be shuttered. The move will require "hard decisions about jobs at the IHT," and the company is now looking to "reassign or relocate people," according to the memo.

Privately, IHT employees may lose their jobs, but publicly, this is about "growth."

Vivian Schiller clarifies this apparent contradiction:

In an interview Tuesday, NYTimes.com General Manager Vivian Schiller insisted that "it's absolutely, positively not about cost savings." Rather, it's about growth, she said. 

If they're not laying people off to cut costs, why then are they being fired? The rest of the article provides a few clues.

News of IHT.com's demise came on the same day the Times began printing its Sports section at the end of the Business section and mashing its Metro coverage into the A section in an attempt to cut costs. The company claims these moves will not reduce the amount of its coverage.

In August, ad revenue at the New York Times Media Group, including both the Times and Tribune, dropped 15.1% from the same period last year. Internet advertising revenue increased 7.9% for the company's entire news media group, driven in part by display advertising gains. Still, the company's overall advertising revenue fell just over 1% between the first and second quarters of the year, from roughly $432.2 million to roughly $427.6 million.

So maybe it is about cutting costs. And a loss in ad revenue. And why have they experienced such a precipitous drop in ad revenue? To be sure, some of their problems are endemic to the newspaper industry, but many of their wounds are self-inflicted. One can imagine a frank conversation between a reporter and a NYT PR-type:

Reporter: Can you explain why NYT has lost so much ad revenue?

NYT PR: Well, gosh, I would imagine editorializing in our news reporting would have something to do with it. And our biased news coverage--the John Edwards affair is probably the most blatant example. Our Op-Ed staff doesn't even try to be even-handed and fair-minded any more. I guess all of these things have caused us to lose the public's trust. Once we lost their trust, we lost them as readers. Our move to be the Angry Left news source just hasn't paid off the way he hoped.

I suppose this is what happens when you give discounts to Moveon.org so they can run ads slandering an American hero.

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