Google Suggested As NY Times Buyer

By: WebProNews Staff - January 22, 2008

To keep the Gray Lady away from a sinister Rupert Murdoch, Google has been touted as the white knight who could ride to her rescue.

How’s this idea for Googlers looking for something to do with that fabled 20 percent time they have for side projects: rescue the flagship American newspaper from its economic doldrums and remake it as the premier information brand in the 21st Century?

Far-fetched? Not to John Ellis at RealClearMarkets. He laid out the argument for Google saving the Times from Murdoch, whom Ellis believes picked up the Wall Street Journal to use as a way to bleed the Times and make it an easier acquisition:

What’s in it for Google? Well, for one thing, it’s cheap. Sell off the New England properties (The Boston Globe, NESN, The Boston Red Sox stake and the Worcester Star-Telegram) and the real cost is $3 billion. That’s not much money to buy one of the premier brands of the information age.

Ellis noted how owning major media outlets has worked for a slate of major businesses, like GE (NBC Universal), Disney (ABC & ESPN), Time Warner (CNN), and Murdoch’s News Corp (Fox). These outlets level the playing field in dealing with federal and state governments, and would do so for Google as it digs in against cable and telecom companies and their anti-net neutrality positions.

Convincing the Times ownership family, the Sulzbergers, to sell will be the real trick. Ellis argues that unless the family sells those New England properties, they won’t have the resources to fight off a Murdoch takeover.

A turnaround at the paper has not happened, nor can the Sulzbergers afford to go private, according to Ellis. Their only saving grace in terms of maintaining the family identity to the last “is what it could call a ‘strategic sale,’ on mutually agreed upon terms that would enable the Family to say it held up the flame,” said Ellis.

WebProNews Staff

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  • The Spartan

    The NY Times, and nearly all major US newspapers, are going the way of the T-Rex and the trebuchet – big and powerful in their day, but that day is long past.  Newspapers are not gaining new readership with the young, those that are actually interested in the news.  Outlets like Drudgereport and similar sites are growing, not because they create the stories but by acting like clearinghouses the reader can check out multiple sources from one common site.  If the NY Times expects to survive, they need to change the model completely – stop publishing a paper hardcopy, move entirely to the web with the same content they would typically carry, either sell advertising space in the model of commercial websites or charge subscribers – something that NYT failed at when they moved their editorials to a pay service.  Yes, by moving to a web based product they will have to let go a great many people such as the printers, the delivery people and the like, but that’s something that always happens with change…just like buggy whip makers and lamplighters are no longer good career choices. 

    Of course any changes would need to be approved by the Sulzbergers.  Their track record of late hasn’t been very good and I wouldn’t bet the house on anything they decide.  They may decide to follow the L.A. Times model…a disaster in the making.