New York Times Co chief executive Mark Thompson said the publisher is going to keep all its money-losing operations under review – including those in China – as he seeks to negotiate the newspaper’s increasing shift towards a digital landscape.
The New York Times’ Chinese-language website has been blocked in China ever since it published an article in October last year about the family wealth of then-premier Wen Jiabao.
Thompson said in an interview on Tuesday that the website, which was launched in a beta version in June last year, got off to an encouraging start.
“The fact that we can’t be seen officially inside China means the revenue is not as large as we would have wished it to have been,” he said.
“If it’s a loss-making operation, they are all under constant review.”
The Chinese site’s struggles are one of several hurdles Thompson faces a little more than a year after he became chief executive. He was director general of the BBC from 2004 to last year.
Like other media organisations, the newspaper faces unprecedented declines in advertising revenue and print readership.
Many newspaper publishers, including that of The New York Times, are hoping to tap new revenue streams in foreign markets, including Asia. The newspaper renamed its overseas publication – the International Herald Tribune – last month to the International New York Times as part of the drive for global growth.
The New York Times launched another Chinese-language website early last month focused on lifestyle, part of its style magazine franchise.
“By taking some of the journalism of the Times and bringing it to Chinese readers, it’s a perfectly valid thing for us to do. It doesn’t really address the issue of the main site,” Thompson said in the interview (see video here ).
He said Chinese officials had given no indication that the main site was going to be unblocked any time soon.
“My view is that The New York Times should be seeking to report the entire world objectively and fairly but pursuing stories of public interest wherever we find them – that includes China.
“We believe – not just for ourselves but for all news outlets – it is in all countries’ interest to allow journalists to do their work freely.”