New York Times needs more than cash

Cash is king for the New York Times right now.

The media world has been swirling with talk about the company looking to sell The Boston Globe and its stake in the Red Sox. Now comes news that the company has told securities regulators that it may sell shares or other securities to raise cash.

Remember, the New York Times has a $400 million credit line due next May. It also is borrowing $225 million against its Manhattan headquarters. The company has made other moves to conserve cash, including cutting its dividend by nearly 75 percent.

But raising cash isn’t all that easy in this environment. Yesterday two Boston businessmen denied they were interested in buying The Boston Globe or the Red Sox stake, and selling shares would only put more pressure on an already depressed stock price. Besides, while cash will buy the New York Times some breathing space, it hardly solves the long-term problems that are crushing the newspaper business.

Here’s the take from Silicon Alley Insider:

Any cash the New York Times raises in the current environment will be outrageously expensive. It’s also hard to imagine that the company will attract much interest from equity investors until it can articulate a plan for long-term survival that involves something other than selling off non-core assets (eventually, it will run out of these).

In our opinion, this plan will need to involve a major restructuring, including a reduction in the size of the company’s editorial operation by at least 40% (and, eventually, more, as the print business wanes).  Based on NYTCo’s response to the crisis to date, however, we suspect management will continue to hope for a miracle.

iPhone App Store rings up 300 million downloads

For those Apple iPhone devotees out there, this may fall in the category of “duh,” but let’s just make it official: apps are popular. The company said Friday 300 million apps have been downloaded from its App Store, which only opened for business in July.

And it was Just a little while ago, on Oct. 21, that Apple reported 200 million app downloads, so iPhone users have been very busy since then.

App developers have also been busy, it seems. The App Store now offers many, many offerings – many useful, some just for yuks. The app count has pushed past the 10,000 mark, up from 5,500 in October and 500 in July.

Obama: Good for newspapers — today

NEW YORK – In the same way that the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series win boosted Inquirer and Daily News sales last week, U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama is jumping in to help papers across the country survive.

People across the country flocked to convenience stores and newsstands snatch up copies of their local papers, which ultimately will prove the most enduring mementos commemorating the election of the first black president of the United States. It’s not a long-term game changer, considering that you can’t hold an historic presidential election every day, but it’s a nice sweetener for a bitter industry story.

Here’s just one example of how the day is shaping up: The New York Times is printing an extra 50,000 copies of today’s paper for the local market after completely selling out, according to spokeswoman Catherine Mathis. (See the Romenesko journalism blog for more details about heavy press runs at other U.S. newspapers.)

Breakingviews breaks in to The Wall Street Journal


The Wall Street Journal recently stopped carrying the Breakingviews business analysis column in favor of its expanded in-house Heard on the Street column, but Breakingviews still managed to crash the party in Wednesday’s paper. In true merry-prankster mode, the Breakingviews ad urges readers of Heard on the Street to think about what they’re missing and how to get a new fix. What the ad doesn’t mention is that The New York Times picked up Breakingviews for its business section just after the WSJ dropped it. Such a move would be a real paper cut.

McClatchy, other newspapers think vertically

Friday’s press release from McClatchy Corp about its new vice president for strategic initiatives includes a quote from interactive media VP Christian Hendricks that caught my eye:

It’s clear there’s a tremendous opportunity to provide local readers with a richer online experience by creating niche and vertical websites that combine our local experience and content with national brands and content… We are confident advertisers will also benefit greatly from better targeted advertising opportunities and increased traffic in topic-specific content areas on these sites.

By now you’ve realized that it was “niche and vertical websites” that got me all excited. Normally I find ways to translate that kind of jargon into English, but not this time.