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Desperately seeking the digital future

Man overboard! Or, in the case of The New York Times this week, make that 100 newsroom jobs cut loose, kaput, as the newspaper navigates the perilous seas of the digital economy.

“The job losses are necessary to control our costs and to allow us to continue to invest in the digital future of The New York Times, but we know that they will be painful both for the individuals affected and for their colleagues,” said Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and CEO Mark Thompson.

In addition to the job cuts, the paper announced it is shutting two of its mobile apps, NYT Opinion, focused on editorial content, and NYT Now, aimed at younger readers. Neither had attracted enough subscribers to make them worth the paper’s while.

As Associate Site Editor Francesca Sales lays out in this week’s Searchlight News Roundup, the challenge facing The Times is to think digital-first. Its mobile apps must offer a new experience to users, not just recycle the same content the paper publishes in print and online. Here’s hoping the Gray Lady figures it out.

Meantime, the paper’s announcement sends an important message to every old-economy business out there seeking a foothold in the digital economy.

By coupling the announcement of layoffs with its struggle to create a digital future for itself, The Times has vividly illustrated the urgency of the task and the price to be paid for failing.

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