2005-01-10

Die Zukunft der New York Times und die Zukunft der Zeitung

--- BusinessWeek wirft einen ausf�hrlichen und spannenden Blick auf die k�nftigen Herausforderungen f�r die New York Times als Hort des Qualit�tsjournalismus -- und damit auf die anspruchsvolle Printbranche insgesamt: The growing polarization of the body politic along ideological lines also is hurting the Times and its big-media brethren. One of the few things on which Bush and Kerry supporters agreed during the Presidential campaign was that the press was unfair in its coverage of their candidate. Keller says the Times was deluged with "ferocious letters berating us for either being stooges of the Bush Administration or agents of Michael Moore." Complaints from the Right were far more numerous, even before the newspaper painted a bull's-eye on itself in running a column by public editor Daniel Okrent headlined "Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?" Okrent's short answer: "Of course it is." What a growing, or at least increasingly strident, segment of the population seems to want is not journalism untainted by the personal views of journalists but coverage that affirms their partisan beliefs -- in the way that many Fox News (FOX ) shows cater to a conservative constituency. For years, major news organizations have been accused of falling short of the ideal of impartiality that they espouse. Now, the very notion of impartiality is under assault, blurring the line between journalism and propaganda. For its part, the Bush White House has succeeded to a degree in marginalizing the national or "elite" press by walling off public access to much of the workings of the government and by treating the Fourth Estate as merely another special interest group that can be safely ignored when it isn't being exploited. The Bushies particularly dislike the Times, which, in their view, epitomizes the Eastern liberal Establishment. ... The Times also is under attack from another branch of the federal government -- the judiciary. The paper figures centrally in most of a half-dozen pending court cases that collectively pose a dire threat to the traditional journalistic practice of assuring confidentiality to whistle-blowers and other informants. ...

The New York Times, like all print publications, faces a quandary. A majority of the paper's readership now views the paper online, but the company still derives 90% of its revenues from newspapering. "The business model that seems to justify the expense of producing quality journalism is the one that isn't growing, and the one that is growing -- the Internet -- isn't producing enough revenue to produce journalism of the same quality," says John Battelle, a co-founder of Wired and other magazines and Web sites. Today, Sulzberger faces an even bigger challenge than when he took charge of the Times in the mid-1990s. Can he find a way to rekindle growth while preserving the primacy of the Times's journalism? The answer will go a long way toward determining not only the fate of America's most important newspaper but also whether traditional, reporting-intensive journalism has a central place in the Digital Age.