The New York Post published a rumor today that quasi-rival, The New York Times, is planning to kill its popular Thursday 'Circuits' section and -- horror! -- replace it with a fashion and shopping section. The question is: If true, what's a blogger to make of it?
The New York Post published a
rumor today that quasi-rival, The New York Times, is planning to kill its
popular Thursday 'Circuits'
section and -- horror! -- replace it with a fashion and shopping section.
The question is: If true, what's a blogger to make of it?
The Post implied that the section was a byproduct of the giddy hype about
technology that emerged during the tech boom of the late 1990s, and that it's
being killed off because the concept is now old and stale.
I don't buy this theory for the simple reason that nothing is too old and stale
for The New York Times.
Another theory, first voiced by PR blogger extraordinaire Steve Rubel, of "Micro
Persuasion" fame, is that gadget blogs like
Gizmodo may have played a role in the
Again, I don't agree. Gadget blogs, if anything, drive major hits to the online
version of "Circuits" though links to stories in the section that are fresh
enough or scoopish enough to warrant them. Duplicated readership of the print
edition of The New York Times and the gadget blogs pretty much rounds to zero --
they're totally different audiences. Besides, The Grey Lady is famous for its
snobbish apathy toward rivals. If The New York Times doesn't care what The
Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times print, why would they
care about Engadget and Gizmodo?
My theory is that, if the rumor is true, it had nothing to do with readers, but
Readers of newspapers tend to think of their favorite daily as a one big
newspaper with a bunch of different sections -- Current Events, Sports,
Business, Fashion, The Arts, etc. But that's not how newspapers look at them.
Publishers see it from a business perspective. So to them a publication is two
things: 1) a real newspaper that fulfils the paper's mission to inform and
educate; and 2) fluffy topic sections like fashion, food, and lifestyles
designed to maximize advertising dollars in order to subsidize the real
The Times' "Circuits" section falls into the latter category. If the
newspaper kills the section, it will be because they've determined that some
other topic can make more money.
TV networks used to look at their programming this way. The nightly news was
a public service money loser that gained the company credibility and was
supported by idiotic-but-lucrative sitcoms and the like. (Nowadays it's all
about entertainment-for-money on TV.) If a sitcom isn't bring in advertising
dollars, you kill it and replace it with another one.
Which raises the question: Why doesn't "Circuits" bring in as much as fashion
and shopping? The reason is that technology advertisers with money -- IBM, HP,
Dell, etc. -- tend to want to be associated with the business section, rather
than the gadget-and-geek section. And NYT ads are expensive. Most category
advertisers either can't afford the NYT, or, if they can, want the credibility
and audience they'll get in the business section.
For this longtime Times reader, the end of "Circuits" will be a sad day -- no
matter what the reason.
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