Sulzberger: An All Digital NYTimes?

New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was quoted in Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying he wouldn’t care if The Times ceased print publishing in five years.

More specifically, when asked at the World Economic Forum whether he foresees The Times being printed in five years (given printing overhead and falling revenues and print readership), his answer was:

“I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing The Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either.”

Strong words, to which he added, “The Internet is a wonderful place to be and we’re leading there.” This was followed by his thoughts on the viability of online advertising and on the merging of print and online newsrooms.

“You know what a newspaper’s news desk is like? It’s like the emergency room at a hospital, or a military system,” he says. “Both organizations are very goal-oriented, and both are very hard to change. But once the journalists grasped the concept, they flipped and embraced it, and supported the move.”

More and more papers are trying to do this, as we’ve reported here, here and here. More excerpts and commentary on the Sulzberger interview from Editor & Publisher and the Praized blog, and the entire interview can be found here.

PaidContent meanwhile reports on Rupert Murdoch’s bearish sentiments toward newspapers, which he expressed during Media Summit (this isn’t the first time we’ve heard his pontifications on the subject). Among other things, he told BusinessWeek’s Steve Adler that his bid for Tribune Co. will likely fizzle out.

On newspapers: “It scares me. Young readership is going down. The culture has changed. No one sits down and reads the paper with breakfast anymore. It’s a shame, because it gives you the opportunity to learn a great deal about the world. If you just read the news on My Yahoo!, for example, you’ll miss a lot.”

I’m not sure I agree with the part about My Yahoo!, given its ability to place in front of your face vastly more and varied sources of news than any single print paper can (does reading in the presence of corn flakes and cantaloupe change this?). But we’ll let him have his opinion. He was right about MySpace after all.

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Related: Editor & Publisher reports that newspaper online readership has gone up 6.9 percent in Q4 to 57.6 million monthly unique visitors. This is a record increase according the NAA, which tracks these numbers with the help of Nielsen/NetRatings. For the entire year, online readership went up 22 percent (year over year) to 56.4 million monthly unique visitors.

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