The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a five-year low today, closing down nearly 450 points. And the New York Times Co. had an even worse day. The company's stock dove almost 10%, lower than it's been in decades. And just after the close of the markets came the payoff: the company is cutting its dividend to six cents per share, down from 23 cents last quarter. How bad is it? Very bad. How long can the company last before calling bankruptcy if things keep going like this? We're putting the question to you. In one sense, it's wise for the company to cut the dividend, because it needs to conserve all the cash it can get. But it's pretty apocalyptic for its stock, because it just makes it that much more unattractive to investors. The company also released its October revenues just minutes ago. How are those? Horrible! Total revenues are down 9.4% from last year, and ad revenues are down more than 16%.
Times editor Bill Keller's hand was suspected in the May departure of Michael Oreskes from the Times-owned International Herald Tribune. "Fiercely ambitious" Oreskes once vied for editorship of the Times itself, the Post's Keith Kelly reported at the time, and may have been made to pay for a "long history of animosity" with Keller. Now another IHT hand, Serge Schemann is being nudged out the door after accusations of disloyalty to Keller, an email tipster claims. His supposed crime: A meeting with former IHT publisher Michael Golden, the rival and cousin to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, just hours after a "make or break" November IHT meeting in Manhattan, a meeting that presumably involved Sulzberger underling Keller.
So. Remember how Harbinger Capital Partners is buying and destroying the New York Times and the very institution of journalism itself? Almost 500 of you should! While we've focused mainly on jocular idiot Scott Galloway, the marketing professor Harbinger forced onto the Times' board, we neglected to mention that the founder of Harbinger is a character in his own right. His name is Philip Falcone. He owns a hockey team! He bought Bob Guccione's house! Also: he and his wife donated the legal maximum to the Republican National Committee. His wife, by the way, is an aspiring novelist and Look Book participant. And a former "model" who maybe exposed her fake breasts in respectable Hollywood films. After the jump, embarrassing photos of the men who are destroying journalism and the women who are producing their babies. (NSFW!)
The Sulzbergers' grip on the New York Times has loosened, a bit. The Times Company announced today that they've given in to the hedge funds that have ammassed 19 percent of the company's publicly traded stock and given them two seats on the company's board of directors. Harbinger Capital and Firebrand are now free to demand the Times sell the Boston Globe in person at the next board meeting. "Under the truce with the hedge funds, the number of directors elected by Class B stock will rise from 9 to 10. The number of Class A directors will rise from 4 to 5." (Class B is the Sulzberger family-controlled non-publicly traded stock.) One of the new directors will be douchey NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway. Banks and Australians are taking over everything! Journalism is dooooomed! [NYT]
Harbinger Capital, the investment firm that is trying to BUY THE NEW YORK TIMES, has formally proposed adding four directors of their choosing to the paper's board. The Times is all "no thanks we have plenty of directors guys!" but Harbinger will probably point out to the SEC that they own 19% of the damn company, just as much as the Sulzbergers. One of Harbinger's candidates, NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway, founded online retailer RedEnvelope, shares of which recently "sank to an all-time low." [AP, Earlier]
When we spoke to New York Times flack Catherine Mathis on Tuesday, she told us that the "$14 to 16 million" in planned staff reductions for this fourth quarter of the year were "not unusual." Mathis said she had "in front of me a chart that goes back to the first quarter of '06 and we've had buyouts in place in every quarter over the last seven quarters." This is an excellent example of providing selective information!
Today's New York Times Company annual shareholder meeting is expected to be, in the words of the Times itself, a "contentious" affair. What with "dissident investors" like Morgan Stanley's Hassan Elmasry calling for the Sulzberger family to change the dual stock-structure that allows them to control the paper, the stakes have never been higher - even though nothing is likely to change. But how will family head Albert Sulzberger Jr., address the controversy? Gawker has obtained a copy of his opening remarks.
Remember the big-deal Punch Awards announced by the New York Times Company a few months ago? The big-deal cash prizes for stellar NYT Co. employees who did like ol' Arthur Sulzberger Sr. and demonstrated "a commitment to [the] Company's Core Purpose, Core Values and Rules of the Road"? Well, they've been announced, and, um, yeah, not so exciting. One went to the TimesSelect team. That other went to the staffs of two of the companies papers located in Louisiana, The Courier and the Daily Comet. The most entertaining part of this — hell, the only entertaining part — is that they own a paper called the Daily Comet. Cool, right?
• Howell Raines' new book — The One That Got a Way — has an unoriginal title. [WWD]
• Bidding for Plame memoir reaches seven figures. And it sounds like the Howell Raines book party was boring. [NYP]
• People named Time Inc.'s mag of the year, for its excellent coverage of, among other things, the ill-fated Zellweger-Chesney nuptials. [WWD]
• More investors are shorting Times Co. stock. Oh, poor Pinch. [NYP]
• ABC anchor Bob Woodruff's recovery continues, but it's still unclear when he'll be able to return. [LAT]
• More evidence 750 Third Avenue will rival 4 Times Square in coolness: New cafeteria will offer sushi bar, custom salad station, international specials. [Media Mob/NYO]
• Well-hung Clinton to speak at News Corp. retreat. [Media Mob/NYO]
• Forbes editor Bill Baldwin doesn't read Jon Friedman's column. [MW]
• NYT Co. searches for outside PR help in recent stock spat. Our tip: Go with Rubenstein; then the Post will be nice. [NYP]
• NYDN looks to buy Philly newspapers. You know, because Mort manages such a smoothly running ship here. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
• The latest Seventeen brand extension: A mag for rich girls. [WWD]
• Post-Stern, CBS looking to sell radio stations? [NYP]
• Why does media care about Duke rape story? Because reporters are worried college will be too expensive for their kids. Obviously. [NYPress]
• Hey, Pinch, there's an upside to keeping your stock in the toilet: It's your chance to take the Times Co. private again. Who to fund the deal? Your buddy Steve Rattner, of course! [NYO]
• Did Jann Wenner try to finagle a discounted rate from the Strokes for the RS 1,000th issue party?? Or did the Strokes try to extort more money from Jann? Eh, who cares. [WWD]
• Bill Keller thinks Bushies are out to intimidate the press. You think? [NJ]
• More changes expected at Marie Clarie — which, somehow, the Post makes at least partially Bonnie Fuller's fault. [NYP]
• Because there's nothing this woman can't do, here's dating advice from Bonnie Fuller. [AMNY]
• Oh, sure, Primedia is a disaster of a company. But why does that mean it shouldn't spend $250k to help cover the cost of its CEO's apartment? [Footnoted]
• Scott McClellan resigns as White House press secretary. Don't get too excited; not like the next one will be much better. [WP]
• Morgan Stanley reassures that it's not trying to force the sale of the Times Co. No, it's just trying to turn it into another Gannett. [NYT]
• This week, Conde Nast discovers internet video. [WWD (second item)]
• Plame-entangled reporter Matt Cooper to become political editor of Time.com. Which is a prison of its own sort. [Media Mob/NYO]
• Gay Talese is a meticulous writer who misses deadlines. [NYO]
• The secret to good TV news? Banter. (Oh yeah? Then why aren't we hosting Meet the Press?) [NYO]
• Pulitzer winners lunch together — before the awards are announced! Scandal! [E&P]
• Morgan Stanley wants to end NYT Co.'s two-tiered stock structure, which keeps the Sulzbergers in control. Much as we like to make fun of the Sulzies: Dear God, are these people insane? [TheStreet.com]
• A day after the Times discovers sponsored copies of the Daily News, it also learns of staff upheavals at the Village Voice. [NYT]
• New Penthouse will be more like old Penthouse — and it'll be run by a chick. [MIN]
• The more he knows the more he knows how much more there is to know. [E&P]
• Steve Friedman, former NBC and CBS morning guru, returns to CBS News. Just in case there weren't enough variables in the Katie-Diane-Charlie-Evening News-Wall News Tonight morning-show calculus. [NYT]
• Remember the big launch of the Discovery Times Channel? Yeah, us barely, too. Turns out the Times Co. has a chance to cash out its stake next month. Can't imagine why Pinch & Co. would want to back out of a venture no one watches. [RMN via Romenesko]
• It may not seem fair that Arthur and Janet got big bonuses while Times Co. stock was stagnant, jobs were being cut, and employee stock-purchase plans were cancelled, but it's in line with what bigtime execs should get, right? Well, maybe not, says a proxy watchdog service, which pays attention to things like what bigtime execs should get. [NYP]