Dan Gillmor

New York Times Needs to Wake Up

Marc Andreessen has inaugurated “the New York Times Deathwatch” — and the data he cites should be giving the Times-folk nightmares. But then, the company’s board of directors is a particularly inept group considering the absolute need to move, fast, into the digital world for real, with all that means.

Marc writes, with utterly appropriate snark, of this crew:

Well, given that the Internet is the central force dismantling the company’s business, I’m sure that by now they’ve stocked their board with noted Internet experts. Let’s see:

Now, some hedge-fund investors who quite plainly care only about the money — and not the public trust aspect of publishing the nation’s best and most important newspaper — are trying to persuade the company to add some board members who have a clue. One of the people they hope to put on the board is Allen Morgan, a friend who is managing director at Mayfield Fund in Silicon Valley. He gets this stuff more thoroughly than almost anyone I know.

I own some NY Times Co. shares, and they’re worth a lot less than I paid for them. I will continue to hold these, even if the company utterly tanks, because I believe in the mission of newspapers and believe the Times has some of the best journalists in the world and could make the move to the Net much better than it has done to date — and that there is absolutely no choice but to move more quickly.

The hedge fund speculators could care less about journalism or the public good, no doubt. But they’re doing a stodgy institution a huge favor. Sadly, the institution is so hidebound that it doesn’t recognize the writing on its own wall.