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By: Joe Strupp

Newspaper Execs Play Fortune-tellers

The future of The New York Times might well include a national zoning approach and a Times’ cable channel, according to Managing Editor Bill Keller, who speculated about the newspaper’s future during a Pew Center symposium Thursday in Manhattan. He also predicted the Gray Lady’s circulation would continue to grow.

“This rosy scenario is not true, unfortunately, for newspapers as a whole,” Keller told the crowd of about 150 gathered for the event. “But in five years, I can see our circulation being greater, and more so outside the New York area.”

As circulation increases outside New York, Keller speculated that the Times would take a stronger zoning approach nationally and expand efforts on television and the Internet. “I can imagine a New York Times cable channel or a block of time that shows what we do best,” he said. “You don’t have to be a [television] network or attached to a network to do quality television.” Keller added that a national zoning approach would include “features that will be added to suit local interests.”

Another speaker, McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt, said his company’s newspapers would take a different approach, seeking to focus on strong regional coverage, as well as improved local Internet products. “We don’t have any national pretenses at all,” Pruitt said. “Our future lays in 10 regional markets.”

The panelists stressed that they believed newspapers in general would remain strong, especially following the recent dot-com failures. But each remarked that newspapers needed to remain committed to quality and originality, as well as finding an online component in order to survive.

“We need to become much better at recognizing the opportunities,” said Chicago Tribune Executive Editor Ann Marie Lipinski.

Joe Strupp (jstrupp@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor for E&P.

Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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