Today the NYT takes a crack at reporting on its own finances. But an editor accidentally titles it "Resilient Strategy for Times Despite Toll of a Recession," rather than "A Laundry List of Horrible Mistakes":
Media reporter Richard Perez-Pena does a pretty fair and thorough job, aside from not being able to find a single "analyst" who had any criticisms of the NYT's financial strategy (could have called us!). But the "Resilient" headline is a bit misleading. Why is the NYT having money troubles now? Well, for one, there's that colossal error that pretty much wiped out all cash for no good reason:
The company's clearest and biggest mistake, analysts say, was spending $2.7 billion to buy back its own stock from 1998 to 2004, despite historic high prices. That figure is more than three times the company's current market capitalization, it outweighs the prices of all the other second-guessed moves combined, and it would be more than enough to ensure the company's security for years to come.
Also they spent hundreds of millions on a new skyscraper right before a recession hit, paid $65 million for half of the money-losing IHT, gave away millions more in excessive dividend payments, and made a fundamentally foolish bet that web ad revenue will be enough to make up for lost print ad revenue. All examples of serious management errors, and all ably detailed in the story! Perhaps that's why this happened:
[CEO Janet] Robinson; Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the company chairman and publisher of The Times; and other executives declined to be interviewed to discuss the company's track record.
Don't worry Richard, they never talk to us either. [NYT]