Not So Fast: NYT Tells Trump ‘We’re Not Failing, We’re ‘Thriving’

Will Ricciardella | Social Media Strategist and Politics Writer

The New York Times disputed President Donald Trump’s claim that the newspaper is “failing” in a rebuttal that claims it is in fact “thriving.”

The Hill called the Times’ response to Trump’s tweet a “fact check.” So who’s right?

To be sure, neither are totally correct. But the Times’ “old media” model, neglecting a more web-first approach to the news, has proven to be a failure, and their seemingly reluctant and awkward move from the old model over the past ten years has diminished its former dominance as “the newspaper of record.”

While its competitor The Washington Post, who embraced the web-first model, is adding journalists, TheNYT is in the midst of its sixth round of buyouts since 2008. If not enough employees volunteer for the buyout, the Times will turn to layoffs.

Their most recent round of buyouts — the second in almost as many months — comes on the precipice of more drastic changes than in the past. Some of the changes, like eliminating the copy desk, threaten the longstanding voice and editorial standards that for decades have made the Times the Times.

The mood in the newsroom has been described as “poisonous” with some feeling as though they are becoming “obsolete.”

In late June, reporters and editors in a show of solidarity, organized a walk-out for what they view as “the humiliating process of justifying our continued presence at The New York Times.”

It is true, however, that digital subscriptions are up, netting an all-time record of 308,000 subscribers in the most recent quarter. Digital ad revenue saw a 19 percent gain in the same time period, but it hasn’t been enough to recoup an industry-wide decline in print advertising.

To remedy the shortfall, the Times is restructuring its headquarters in Manhattan, reducing it from 20-floors to 12-floors in order to free up leasing space to help offset the deep decline in print advertising that has motivated their slow lurch to digital media over the past decade.

After Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Times’ main competitor, the then-failing Washington Post, in 2013, it has adapted to the changing media landscape more quickly, and it is hot on the Times’ heels for control of the media digital landscape.

“Thriving” would not be the word I would’ve chosen to describe the Times’ financial outlook.

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