Sign of the Times: Should the 'Gray Lady' talk to a Yahoo?

 The news has been unrelentingly bad for the news business, in the last two years as advertising keeps shifting to the Internet.And there’s no question that the great ‘Gray Lady’ of newspapering, The New York Times, is in a vise.

 

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The news has been unrelentingly bad for the news business, in the last two years as advertising keeps shifting to the Internet.

And there’s no question that the great ‘Gray Lady’ of newspapering, The New York Times, is in a vise.

In its third quarter, overall revenue was down 9 percent, to $687 million, from $754 million a year earlier. Lost over the span of one year: $67 million.

Advertising sales, overall, fell 16 percent. And online ad sales only grew 6.7 percent.

The result: The Times only gained about $5 million in new ad revenue from its About.com business and Web site operations. Not nearly enough to offset its print losses.

But September, as bad as it was for the economy as a whole,  showed some resurgence, even in the face of the stock and credit market meltdown.

Overall ad revenues were “only” down 14 percent. And the curve is picking back up online. Online ad revenue grew 2.6 percent in July, 6 percent in August and 11.7 percent in September.

Long-term, The Times has to make a bigger move online, to keep its business healthy. Organic growth is not going to cut it, even if 12 percent growth keeps up after this election and through the next two.

Maybe Arthur Sulzberger should be talking to Jerry Yang. Yahoo’s way to distinguish itself from Google has been to present itself as an information portal. The online gateway to finance, sports and general news.

Yahoo!, despite all its market positioning and mating troubles, still is growing and makes about $1 billion on the bottom line on $7 billion in revenue. The Times? About $90 million on $3 billion.

It’s worth at least a talk, Arthur. Yahoo needs an info engine that sets itself apart from a search engine. And you need growth and a way to shed The Times’ birth and life as a ‘Gray Lady.’ Fast.

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