WASHINGTON: The New York Times announced cutbacks Tuesday to its longtime Paris hub as the US publisher struggles to keep its international print edition alive as readers turn more to digital.
The Times said it plans to close its editing and prepress print production operations in the French capital, folding them into its New York and Hong Kong offices.
The result will be the loss of 70 Paris jobs, out of a total staff in the city of 113, either through elimination or relocation.
The company said the moves are necessary to keep its global print version, the International New York Times, “more economically sustainable in an increasingly digital world,” according to an internal memo.
The newspaper will also undergo a redesign to boost the breadth and depth of analysis and opinion “on topics that are most meaningful and pertinent to international audiences,” said the memo from publisher Arthur Sulzberger, chief executive Mark Thompson, and executive editor Dean Baquet.
“Print remains a vital platform to The New York Times,” they stressed.
“Without these changes, the international paper’s future would be uncertain at best.”
Nevertheless, the Times has placed its priorities on growth in digital media, aiming to boost its international subscriber base more from online and mobile users than print readers.
Earlier this month, it announced plans to invest $50 million in the digital side of the business, creating a new “international digital growth team” focused both on content and advertising.
“Every part of the company, the newsroom, product and technology, advertising and consumer marketing, and data and analytics, among others, needs to think creatively about attracting and retaining a bigger non-American audience and growing revenue outside the US,” it said.
Speaking Tuesday to a Times reporter, Baquet more directly highlighted the rise of the digital side of the operation in the move.
The Paris cuts are “about changing the way we’re built so that we’re not just built for print,” he said.
“I think we need to free up resources to build a digital report, and I think that’s what it boils down to.”
The move comes nearly three years after the Times-controlled, Paris-based 125-year-old International Herald Tribune was rebranded as the International New York Times and further integrated into the Times’s operations.
But the IHT and its successor faced daunting technological changes in the global media landscape.
Like other newspaper publishers, the Times has seen a steady decline in subscribers to its domestic and international print editions as more news consumers turn to television and online sources, increasingly delivered through smartphones.
At the end of last year the International New York Times had around 214,700 paid print subscribers, down nearly 5,000 from the previous year.
Dan Gillmor, who teaches journalism at Arizona State University, said the print version is less and less crucial for international travellers, and it was hardly clear whether it will survive over the medium term.
While he reads the print version when it is available, he said, “I travel a lot outside the US and it’s been some years since I sought out the IHT or the International New York Times.”
“It’s no longer the must read, physically.”
Other widely-read print newspapers have also made heavy cuts or business model changes.
On March 27, Britain’s Independent newspaper gave up completely on print editions, going completely online after seeing print circulation dwindle to 40,000 from a peak of 420,000.
Also in March, the Guardian newspaper announced it was cutting 250 jobs in the face of persistent losses.
And at the Financial Times, a globally-printed rival to the International New York Times, staff were warned earlier this week of “daunting” market conditions and “tough times in the months ahead,” according to an internal memo reported by Politico. AFP