Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

New York Times Battens Hatches, Drops Dividend

new-york-times-buildingLast fall, the New York Times tried boosting its cash position by slashing its dividend from 23 cents a share to 6 cents a share. Not good enough: The paper is now doing away with its quarterly payout altogether–at least temporarily.

Tough news for the Sulzberger clan, which has been living quite well off the Times’s dividend for a long time. And yet another sign that the paper’s cash crunch hasn’t been eased just because it was able to secure a high-interest loan from Carlos Slim last month.

NYT chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. on the move: “Today’s decision provides the Company with additional financial flexibility given the current economic environment and the uncertain business outlook…we have taken decisive steps to reduce capital spending, lower operating costs and re-evaluate our assets.”

The Times has made a variety of cash-saving/raising moves over the past few months, and still has a few others in the works: It’s trying to find someone to buy its stake in the Boston Red Sox, as well as its stake in its new headquarters.

As of last fall, the paper was insisting that it wouldn’t lay off any of its 1,300 newsroom employees. But things have only gotten worse since then.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik