I’m a pretty big fan of documentary films but I’m still on the fence about the movie Page One: Inside the New York Times which follows the paper in 2010. It was nice to see what goes on behind the scenes (or I suppose words in this case) but it was irritating listening to NYT employees talk about their struggle with losing advertising revenue and cutting nearly 100 staff members.
The newspaper industry had been tanking for two years or more at that point and papers across the county were laying off thousands of workers, some even closing their doors like the Rocky Mountain News which ceased publication in February 2009. The Times employees acted as if they had been blindsided and spoke about finally implementing a pay wall on nyt.com
By that point other papers had already transitioned into new models that catered to web users like the Detroit Free Press which within a month of the Rocky closing had eliminated several days of home delivery and instead offered Web editions. The Ann Arbor News took a similar route when it went completely digital that same year. The Times on the other hand did not launch a pay wall until March 2011. That’s nearly four years after the decline in newspaper jobs started.
The Times, like some of its New York City neighbors, perhaps think it’s too big to fail, it has been around for too long to go under, it’s the people’s trustworthy watchdog. But if a paper as esteemed and respected as the NYT takes four years to get with the program and evolve with its readers, it can fail and perhaps eventually will.