Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Jill Abramson-era New York Times was a business success

New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to hold the top spot at the nation's most important newspaper, is stepping down today. As the Times put it, "the reasons for the switch were not immediately clear."

You often see companies change management amidst business crises. But one thing that is clear is that amidst a generalized crisis for the American newspaper industry the Times is doing quite well as a business. In the first quarter of the year, the Times scored a $22 million operating profit on $390 million in revenue. That revenue figure represented a 2.6 percent increase from the year-ago quarter, including a 3.4 percent increase in ad revenue.

The overall newspaper industry, meanwhile, is a disaster area.

Newspaper The Times' operating profit was down in 2014 Q1 relative to 2013 Q1, but the company attributes that to "strategic growth initiatives." Whether those will pay off or not is anyone's guess, but the basic picture is of a healthy company. Its revenues exceed its operating costs and its revenues are growing. The company makes enough money that it doesn't need to choose between profits and strategic investments. And it's paid off in the share price:


None of that proves Abramson was doing a great job as executive editor, of course. But it does make this change in leadership different from the vast majority of newspaper turnovers that we've seen in the past 10 years — the outgoing editor has been working at the core of a growing and successful business, not a declining one.

Read more on what a badass Jill Abramson is.

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