updated 03:21 am EDT, Mon June 25, 2012
NYT looking for tech-savvy leader
The New York Times is looking to make a big move toward the Internet, and Google's Eric Schmidt is near the top of the list of leaders the self-styled "newspaper of record" is considering to guide it in that direction. According to Bloomberg, sources familiar with the paper's internal operations have revealed that the Google chief is among a number of candidates in consideration for the Times, a publication with strong ties to both the digital and print world, lurching toward the former even as it is rooted in the latter.
Google's Schmidt stepped down as CEO of the search giant in April 2011, though he has remained on as chairman of the company. The thinking is that Schmidt's experience at the helm of a digitally-born company would prove useful at the Times, which is seeing print readership decline as more users move online. Online subscriptions resulted in a 73 percent circulation increase in the six-month period ended in March of this year, but those subscription fees, in addition to the paper's advertising revenues, haven't been enough to offset declining sales.
Also under consideration is Eileen Noughton, Google's Managing Director of Media Strategy and Operations. Any new CEO at the Times would have less than complete autonomy: the voting power of the Sulzberger family -- longtime owners of the paper -- would represent a significant check on any executive's decisions. For that reason, there is reportedly only an outside chance of Schmidt or Noughton signing on with the Times, but the fact that they are under consideration underlines the paper's desire to parlay its name, history, and resources into success in the digital era.
As subscriber revenues have declined, so have the Times' fortunes, to an extent. Last year, the paper began charging readers for access to articles. Consequently, 450,000 digital subscribers have joined in the time since the paywall was erected. Despite these numbers, the paper will see a $2.07 billion revenue total this year, which represents a decline of 11 percent.