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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Grey Lady tightens her girdle: Cutting back by flying coach! 

Oh, the sacrifices they make!

Bill Keller, the editor-in-chief of the New York Times, apparently felt the need to emphasize to his employees that he is flying coach.

Keller told employees they will have to live on the lean side. "A deep, sustained recession will mean the search for savings and the quest for new revenues continues, that there will be no luxuries and little comfort."

The same goes for him, Keller noted. "I was flying back from California the week before last and by chance I was seated next to someone from the advertising department of the Times. (In economy class, for the record)," he said.

I should hope so. Indeed, it is unfortunate that Keller actually had to make the point, since the New York Times Company has been suffering financially for so long one would have thought that it would have banned first class travel a long time ago.

I am a senior executive -- one step from the top -- in a profitable and reasonably large public company. We fly coach everywhere, including across the Pacific or overnight to Europe. Yes, flying coach around the world is miserably uncomfortable (especially when you have to travel a lot), but at the end of the day it is a small sacrifice compared to other decisions we make to keep our company profitable. How are the leaders of the New York Times Company going to make the tough decisions necessary to save their business if they still have to explain that they are now flying coach?

MORE: Note that my mocking of the Times is not a wish for its demise. I am no gravedancer, and agree with Warren Mayer. I do, however, believe that the Times would greatly improve its business if it moved closer to the American center, rather than the Manhattan center.

15 Comments:

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Tue Oct 28, 09:35:00 PM:

A successful big picture is always a collection of little details executed correctly.

Sounds like the NYT isn't serious about survival.  

By Blogger Joshua, at Tue Oct 28, 11:06:00 PM:

Meh. Little details or no, the NYT and the rest of the MSM will need a GM-style bailout coupled with "Fairness" Doctrine v2.0 to have any chance of long-term survival. Small wonder, then, that they're in the tank for Obama.  

By Blogger BJM, at Wed Oct 29, 01:21:00 AM:

Flying coach would be especially uncomfortable with one's head up one's arse as in Keller's case.  

By Anonymous Steve Skubinna, at Wed Oct 29, 06:40:00 AM:

I ownder how much thought they've given to eliminating air travel as much as possible. With videoconferencing so ubiquitous, much of the need for executive travel has vanished.

Well, except for those vitally needed executive retreats at places like La Costa or The Hamptons.

But seriously, what possible valid business reason is there for somebody in Keller's position to be travelling anyway? I'd bet money that he was addressing some self referential (aka "circle jerk") conference on "Fairness in Media" or some such crap. Perhaps he was telling new graduates at USC how the future depended upon their choices and not to abandon their ideals, yada yada yada. And now he's back to help rearrange the deck chairs on the executive veranda.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 29, 10:39:00 AM:

I don't believe him. As arrogant and clueless as the NYT commissars are, I simply don't believe that senior staff has given up first class or private jet travel.
If Keller flew back from California in coach, it was only because the trip was for other than business purposes or, more likely, there wern't any first class seats left for frequent traveler miles.
Basic rule: NEVER TRUST THE WORD OF ANYONE CONNECTED WITH THE BYT!  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Wed Oct 29, 10:58:00 AM:

I saw a blogger refer to economy class as steerage the other day. heh heh. Clever. I am surprised i had not seen that before.  

By Anonymous MarkJ, at Wed Oct 29, 11:23:00 AM:

feeblemind,

Yeah, Bill Keller and his good-time buddies' concept of "making sacrifices" is rubbing elbows for a few hours with the bible-clinging provincials in the cheap seats. Real "man of the people" that Keller, eh? I'll bet he drinks Bud and plays "cornhole" too.

Obama claims "we'll all need to tighten our belts," but he conveniently neglects to mention that the "belts" of his fat-cat contributors are purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue rather than at WalMart.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 29, 11:36:00 AM:

I have a rule. If my company expects me to travel, I expect them to provide equal or better accomodations while I'm traveling. I quit taking one for the team over ten years ago; the team doesn't give two shats about you one way or another. Sacrifice for the team and you become a martyr. Enjoy being one. If the company insists on sacrifices when forcing unwanted and unneeded travel on me, I find another company. That simple. Loyalty? doesn't exist anymore. I want a big paycheck and as little inconvenience as I can get. And I get it on demand.

Getting my point?

You want to be a team player, play football, and enjoy your team mate, Mr. Owens.  

By Blogger Dave, at Wed Oct 29, 12:10:00 PM:

Anonymous @ 11:36: for your sake (and you family if you have one) I hope your ability is equal to your arrogance. If not, good luck in finding that next job. Perhaps flipping burgers won't require that you sacrifice traveling and therefore not have to meet your 'demands' for equal or better accomodations.

Having previously owned my own business I tend to remember that in economic bad times the first sacrificed are those whose alligator mouths outweigh their hummingbird asses.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Oct 29, 12:16:00 PM:

Well, Anon 11:36, I hope you do not work for me!

That said, we do not ask our people to suffer more than we ourselves are willing to suffer. We lead by taking it on the chin ourselves!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 29, 12:45:00 PM:

I'll not be happy until the entire NYT crew has to hitchike. That way, they get transportation equal to the quality of their product.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 29, 01:05:00 PM:

I love newspapers too, but I take exception to this sentiment: "Note that my mocking of the Times is not a wish for its demise. I am no gravedancer, and agree with Warren Mayer. I do, however, believe that the Times would greatly improve its business if it moved closer to the American center, rather than the Manhattan center."

There's only one way the NYT will abandon it's self-righteous superior leftitude, and that's to kill it. A new and better paper will rise from the ashes, one that looks back every day at the wreckage that used to be the NYT and promises itself never to go where the Sulzbergers have taken the Times since Pinch took over from Punch. The 11th commandmnet should be that newspaper owners can take whatever political position they want to take on the editorial page, but thou shalt not shape the news and thou shalt not suppress big stories damaging to your fave! (Are you hearing me you foul smelling fishrag LA Times?????!)  

By Blogger Victor Erimita, at Wed Oct 29, 01:51:00 PM:

"I do, however, believe that the Times would greatly improve its business if it moved closer to the American center, rather than the Manhattan center."

Although principled, this is a quaint statement. The people at the Times, and evidently most mass media, which are seeing their revenues crater, but veer ever more hard left, and ever less credible, practically by the day, see themselves as revolutionaries, not businesspeople. This even apparently applies to large, publicly-held corporations, like GE, Disney and Viacom, who allow their "news" organizations to alienate ever larger segments of the population by turning themselves into advocates for the Hard Left agenda, even as their audiences and circulations plummet.

They have made their choices. And they are not interested in arguments about fairness, objectivity or profitability. They have a revolution to win. Besides, soon they will have help from the Dems and the Orwellian Fairness Doctrine.  

By Blogger Mumon, at Wed Oct 29, 02:08:00 PM:

"a small sacrifice compared to other decisions we make to keep our company profitable"

Such as WHAT exactly??  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 29, 02:25:00 PM:

The Times, they ain't a changin.

Subscribers and Dems, we propagandize to your taste
Keep your minds shut, but those wallets open post-haste
And don't look elsewhere, for it's all rightwing spin
And there's no telling fact from opinion
Oh, LA's or New York's, either's a twin
We're the Times, we ain't a-changing

Come senators, congressmen, heed our coming call
For subsidies and laws, to bring forced Fairness to all
For we provide bias for which ever fewer still pay
Culture wars outside rage to end us the Fourth Estate
And bear our pall
'Cause the Times, we ain't a-changing
.  

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