So far the possible financial saviors of the New York Times are a shady Mexican billionaire, a shady Hollywood billionaire, and a plan to give free t-shirts to anyone who donates. Anyone see a problem?
The paper already took out a $250 million subprime loan from Carlos Slim. The best they can hope for there is not to allow him to leverage it to sneak in and take over the whole company. It was reported earlier that Hollywood megamogul David Geffen was trying to buy a 20% chunk of NYT stock from a hedge fund, but today one or both sides are pooh-poohing it as one mere phone call—a flight of Geffen fancy, if you will, not a real bid.
So the outside saviors are both...predatory at best, nonexistent at worst. What about saving itself, with a plan to not be cannibalized unto death by the internet? They're going about it, albeit quaintly! Today John Koblin has more details on the Times' theoretical plan to rake in more money, somehow. There are two possibilities!
1. A "'meter system,' in which the reader can roam freely on the Web site until hitting a predetermined limit of word-count or pageviews, after which a meter will start running and the reader is charged for movement on the site thereafter." Tick tick tick!
2. A "membership" system in which you donate money to the NYT and get a t-shirt or a key chain or extra content or a private relaxing "massage" from Jon Landman and Janet Robinson, whatever, they haven't worked it all out yet.
The sunny backdrop to all this is that if the company doesn't come up with some miraculous way to pay down its debt, fast, the Sulzbergers will likely have to give up their family control of the paper. So uh, they're still open to better ideas!