No one said that change was easy. But if one doesn't continue to change and adapt to internal and external forces, then one will surely wither on the vine. For the New York Times and other print content companies, it is recognizing that digital is supplanting print. Simply look at the number of iPads and e-readers being manufactured. With Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and yes even Barnes & Noble putting dollars into digital tablets, consumers will only continue to purchase more devices and want more content to power them. Content companies that sell quality content to these devices should only benefit.
And The New York Times is capitalizing on digital. The transition is painful and much work is needed to grow, but they seem to be going in the right direction. Profit was up for the last quarter and "it’s continuing to make progress on its metered paywall, saying that it had 324,000 paid digital subscribers—compared to 224,000 in Q2—along with paid and sponsored relationships giving the NYTimes.com over 1.2 million digital users." Through subscription and advertising growth with this exclusive content, NYT can continue to be a leader in media. They should consider capitalizing further with this customer base with e-commerce activity to add another revenue stream to the mix.
Where the NYT has had issues, beyond the natural decline of print subscription, is with About.com. About is a terrific website but it has seen intense competition, both from other how-to websites as well as from viral You Tube postings. And it is hard to be a generalist when there are many other sites narrower in niche and more robust. Just sampling the site, it is easy to see that some pages are dated. A page on Baltimore wasn't updated since December 2010, 10 months ago. About has an amazing history, but it needs a facelift to remain relevant for the future. Like it's parent, it needs to change and adapt.