In a move that many media analysts say was inevitable, The New York Times has decided to pare down its weekly content. Sections with regional and niche appeal will be consolidated or eliminated entirely starting next month. Is it just another sign of journalism's malaise or something darker looming for the country's foremost daily?
The Friday Escapes section will go. Regional coverage, including the City section, will be consolidated into one supplement. The daily story index will go from three pages to one. Weekly fashion features will be folded into T Magazine. Times chief Bill Keller announced the cuts yesterday saying it was a choice between axing sections and cutting the payroll. Although no newsroom staff will be laid off as a result of the changes, freelance budgets will be reduced substantially.
Arlene Morgan, a dean at Columbia's School of Journalism and a 31-year industry veteran, told Big Think that the move shows the Times' willingness to cut the more expendable "luxury" sections. "It's not their core mission," she said. "There are so many magazines that do the same thing."
Regarding the regional supplements--for New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester County, and Connecticut--she said readers in those areas could get better coverage through their local publications.
It was only the reduction of the City section for which Morgan expressed greater concern. There she saw a loss of key coverage on the five boroughs that was rarely present in the paper's Metro section.
As the Times continues to work out its cost-benefit calculus and attempt to scale its ad revenue for a product which is increasingly read online, Morgan predicts that the upheaval in major dailies like the Times will likely continue. "You don't know what shoe is going to drop next," she said.