The New York Times reported today that their digital business is currently worth about $360 million, according to Henry Blodget at Business Insider. And Mr. Blodget — in typical troll-mode — says that the robust cash-flow is a sign that “no one ever needs to fret about the future of journalism again.”
Blodget’s analysis is correct, to an extent — $360 million is a solid friggin’ business, particularly with the Times’ growing digital subscription revenues of $150 million. And he’s not the only one bullish on the fourth estate, as Matt Yglesias of Slate calls our current era the “Golden Age of Journalism.”
Yglesias’ rationale is that readers have never before had such a vast buffet of fantastic writing, reporting and general information at their fingertips. Whether or not ink-stained wretches are actually putting food on their tables is erroneous.
Blodget, however, has some skin in the game as CEO of Business Insider. He recently raised a $5 million funding round, despite B.I. losing $3 million in 2012.
So what’s really going on with journalism in 2013? From one standpoint, it’s bifurcating, just like the rest of America…the winners are winning big, the losers are crumbling and slamming their fists about the tragic death of “damn good journalism,” and there’s not much in-between.
Even the winners have a few caveats. The Bloomberg empire — which consistently pays amongst the highest salaries in the industry — is bolstered by the trading terminals, which account for 85% of the company’s revenue. And despite the swelling digital revenue, The New York Times will not be able to keep its 1,100+ reporters worldwide, at least as long as the leadership insists on keeping the print business on life support. Times’ print revenues decreased 6.8% last quarter alone.
All in all, it’s a good place to stand if you’re working at a media startup. Consider Bostinno, a Boston-focused millenial blog with over 1 million unique monthly viewers, then take a look at The Boston Globe — owned by The New York Times Company — whose total advertising decreased by 10% last quarter. Bostinno publishes a number of sponsored posts — paid for and often influenced by advertisers — which is directly opposed to the underpinnings of old-school journalism, but dammit, people are writing. And reporting. Journalism is surviving, just not the way R.W. Apple would’ve wanted.
And I’m not even going to get into The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed right now…read my thoughts on those ventures here.
I’m happy that The New York Times has already worked its way out of the gloom we all saw in the ‘Page One’ documentary from 2011, but claiming we never have to fret about journalism’s future again is, well, a very Henry Blodget-thing to say. What do you guys think?