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New York Times Pwns Bloggers

Let’s knock out some buzz words: new media, blogger, msm, social media, old media. The future of the New York Times, and other traditional papers, is shaky at the moment.

…its financial performance is lagging. NYT Co.’s stock is trading at about 40, down 25% from its high of 53.80 in mid-2002…The Wall Street consensus is that the company will report net income of $290 million for 2004, down 4% from the preceding year and a good 35% below the $445 million it netted in the media industry boom year of 2001. Revenues have plateaued at $3 billion, give or take a few hundred million, for five years running. [Source, BusinessWeek, The Future Of The New York Times]

With newspaper circulations down, the newspaper companies are in a panic and looking for someone to blame. The finger most frequently gets pointed at bloggers, citizen journalists who write without the impedance of an editor nor the accountability of a professional journalist and who are able to get the news out (accurate or not) in seconds from the scene as eye witnesses. Blaming bloggers is simply a red herring.

The root problems go back to the late 1940s, when the percentage of Americans reading newspapers began to drop. But for years the U.S. population was growing so much that circulation kept rising and then, after 1970, remained stable. That changed in 1990 when circulation began to decline in absolute numbers. [Source, The State of the News Media 2004]

1940 predates the modern Internet and 1990 predates the blogging boom. But since The New York Times is convinced that bloggers are partially responsible for subscription decline (and that may very well be accurate!), they devised a way to get some of that traffic back…they published an article about how detrimental blogging is to health! They even attributed a 41 year old’s heart attack to blogging. Now that should scare the competition away! Bloggers jumped on this story! Writers like my wife, Michael Silence, and Dr. Helen all chimed in and linked to the story. It spread like wildfire through the blogosphere with each blogger adding their opinion and interesting commentary. Now I respect each of these bloggers and enjoyed reading their take on the NYT‘s article, but I’m going to call it like I see it. In a stroke of marketing genius, you were link baited by The New York Times! Which I’d say is quite an honor!

Is blogging stressful? I suppose if you were relying on it for your income it would be. But if you are a hobbyist who posts between tasks rather than taking smoke breaks (which is how I blog), there should be no stress in this diversion. I do find blogging stressful when I have deadlines because I know my clients read my blog and each post could look like I am playing instead of working (which is not the case). So for me, the stress is in wanting to post but not give the wrong impression to those people to whom I have professional obligations.

Others who took the NYT’s bait:

Whew! The list goes on. I just can’t keep up.