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Maybe Starbucks needs to buy the New York Times (with update)
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Another month, another note on financial struggles at the New York Times. This time, it's their bond rating being cut, which effectively raises the interest rate they must pay to borrow money. The dispassionate tone of the S&P analysis is brutal:
...operating performance for the month of May was lower than anticipated, with total advertising revenues down 8.5% year over year and newspaper ad revenues down 9.9%. We are increasingly concerned about the pace of decline for print advertising.


We believe that secular declines in the newspaper industry will continue to affect top-line growth during the intermediate term. The rating could be lowered if trends related to print advertising remain in line with what was reported in the past few months, suggesting that annual revenue declines may exceed the low single-digit area...
In other words, they don't see a chance in heck that the Times will see revenue growth, and they're expecting the decline in revenues to accelerate.

Now, my first impulse is to feel some schadenfreude. The NYT has disgraced themselves so often over the past ten or twenty years that it's become a running joke. McQ blasted them recently, as they continue to plumb new depths of left-wing idiocy.

But my second thought was "How can they be doing that badly?" Every Starbucks I've ever been in carries the NYT - it's practically part of the culture there. The stereotype of the latte-sipping NYT reader is immediately recognizable.

Plus New Yorkers are notoriously some of the most liberal citizens in the nation. I would think that there's a market for a liberal newspaper there.

Sure, sure, online stuff is changing our news gathering habits. All the traditional media are suffering. But the Times seems to be particularly vulnerable, which suggests that they are run particularly badly.

I just find myself wondering if the ultimate fate of the Times is to be bought by Starbucks just to preserve the newspaper as an accoutrement of the liberal coffee-shop experience.

*** Update 12 July, 8:40 AM CST ***

Commenter Jeremy Bowers says:
Starbucks strikes me as being more business savvy than that.

Ah, but that's why I think they would be a candidate to reform the Times! They could be far more creative in revamping the product.

Starbucks is famous for making their coffee experience repeatable and dependable. They could make the Times news experience the same! Daily editions of the Times could recycle variations of the same headlines over and over. Here's a sampling of the headlines I would see them using again and again during 2009 to 2012:

President Thompson Denies Corruption Allegations

Evil White Guys Do Something Really Bad; Women and Minorities Most Affected

More Tax Revenues Needed

Despite Gains, Iraq Still Sliding Backwards

The Times has been moving steadily in this direction in the last few years anyway. Starbucks could just accelerate the trend, and cut costs. There's no reason it takes a staff the size of the one at the Times to produce the same news over and over.

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Previous Comments to this Post 

Not to mention having to work in a building (built with ill-gotten 9/11 funds) where maggots and dead rats fall from the ceiling onto the maggots and rats who work at the paper...
Written By: shark
URL: http://
And which Libertarian newspapers do you support? I keep forgetting their names.
Written By: kindlingman
URL: http://
Starbucks strikes me as being more business savvy than that.
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
And which Libertarian newspapers do you support? I keep forgetting their names.
Well, I used to have subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and The Economist, back when they were within shouting distance of libertarian. Unfortunately, both wandered into the same mushy morass of "moderate" mediocrity as all the rest.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Starbucks strikes me as being more business savvy than that.
But they still won’t carry the WSJ. Of course, the WSJ has a profitable online model.
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://
The building is worth some money. The paper is worth what I pay for it, and I don’t subscribe. If insanity is doing the same thing, repeatedly, and expecting a different result, then the management of the Times is insane.

If the Times didn’t have a non-voting stock setup, Pinch and crew would be on the street already. The stock price will continue to decline, until the total value of the outstanding stock equals the worth of the building.
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
"Starbucks is famous for making their coffee experience repeatable"

"coffee experience"??

Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The entire newspaper industry is in collapse for similar reasons to the recording industry or the movie theater industry. You could write something interesting on that, but you’ve written nothing but offensive and pointless snark. Filler.
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
De gustibus non est disputandum...
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://

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