Whither the New York Times?

Marc Andreessen just initiated a deathwatch on the New York Times and it is unfortunately hard to disagree.

As much as I enjoy the New York Times, on the web, through the very cool Times Reader and in finger-smudging print, the last time I dug into the numbers for the flagship New York Times newspaper (inside the broader New York Times Company), it was an exercise in turning a billion dollar print business into a tens of million dollar on-line business.  The print business is declining faster than the online business can fill the breach, which eventually has to get ugly.  The NYT Digital group has done some great work, but they’re bailing out the Titanic with a teaspoon.

There is another point worth adding to Marc’s list of issues fit to print: Rupert Murdoch.  He smells blood in the water and is deploying his new Wall Street Journal accordingly.  You could even argue one of the more compelling reasons to make an acquisition in the troubled newspaper business is if you thought you could pretty much take out your primary national competitor.  When asked if he intended to kill the New York Times, Murdoch merely replied: “That would be nice.”