Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Atlantic Writer Hirschorn to New York Times: You Probably Won’t Fold This Spring

Breaking news: Michael Hirschorn, The Atlantic columnist who suggested earlier this month that the New York Times could fold this spring, now says that he was probably a bit hasty. Sort of.

Back story: Hirschorn, a former Viacom executive (and general NYC media star–New York Magazine, Inside.com, etc.) published a widely noticed column this month that took a gander at the New York Times’s troubled finances and concluded that it was “plausible” that the paper could go out of business in May.

This week, the Times responded with a lengthy letter tut-tutting Hirschorn for breaches of protocol–”It’s not unusual that a journalist calls the subject of a piece before actually publishing the article or column. In fact, in some areas of journalism that’s standard practice.”–and arguing that he’d overstated his case.

Today, Hirschorn responds with a mea-sorta-culpa of his own, which you can see at the The Atlantic’s site (which is really good these days). Part of the problem, he says: The Times didn’t release some details about its financials until his article had gone to press.

Verdict: Both sides are correct! The New York Times (NYT) will not fold in May, when its $400 million credit revolver closes up. And the New York Times is in serious financial trouble. More details on the latter from my former employer, Henry Blodget, who did a nice job of explaining the Times’s credit crunch yesterday.

The big picture: This debate–will the New York Times exist by the end of 2009?–would have been inconceivable a year ago. That fact that it’s happening now underscores just how quickly the industry’s fortunes have declined.


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