The New York Times entered the digital era under duress. In 2011, the Times erected a paywall in what it called a ‘subscription-first business model’. The gamble was that readers would want to pay for quality journalism. It was a risk, and at first it didn’t seem to be paying off: after a challenging 2014, the company shed 100 people from the newsroom in buyouts and layoffs.
A.G. Sulzberger, who was getting ready to replace his father as publisher, commissioned an in-house report, its title ‘Innovation’. The report made it very clear who was to blame. A journalist’s job, the report said, no longer ended with choosing, reporting and publishing the news. To compensate for the ‘steady decline’ in advertising revenue due to digitisation, ‘the wall dividing the newsroom and business side’ had to come down.