New York Times Reveals 11-Page Memo Detailing Ambitious Plan to Double Digital Revenue in 5 Years

Paper says its original subscribers “grew up with The New York Times spread out over their kitchen tables” but now Times must win with readers “on their phones”

The New York Times revealed its bold plans to reinvent itself on Wednesday, previewing a mobile-first and digital version of the “paper of record.”

“We need to move with much more urgency,” an 11-page memo titled “Our Path Forward” said. It went on to detail the paper’s ambitious plan to build upon  its recent record of two million digital subscribers.

“For all that we’ve accomplished, our digital business is not yet close to supporting the scale of our ambitions. This is why we are setting the goal of doubling our digital revenues over the next five years, to reach more than $800 million in digital‐only revenue by 2020. To get there, we must more than double the number of engaged digital readers who are the foundation of both our consumer and advertising revenue models.”

The plan to double digital revenue has been hatched in large part to offset the industry-wide trend of sinking print advertising revenue, that’s hit the Times like every other big, national paper. The Times’ all-in digital approach aims to return it to a “position of growth” that outpaces the “inevitable decline in print.”

“Reaching these targets would take us past the point at which digital revenue exceeds print revenue, an important milestone for the long‐term sustainability of our mission,” the memo continued.

But the strategy isn’t a one-trick digital pony–eventually, the Times sees itself as a mobile-first publication.

“Our organization was built for the print era and now must be redesigned for the mobile era,” the paper said, outlining plans to reach more younger viewers (40 percent of current mobile audience is under 35) who get their news through mobile.

The paper doesn’t see mobile as just another distribution method but a transformative platform for people to consume their news: “The way we tell our stories, the design of the experience and the speed and functionality of the products will be critical to differentiating The Times from the competition.”