The likelihood that the New York Times is suddenly going to cease printing by May, even in this accelerated bad economy, are none, to less than none. However(!) that isn’t going to stop everyone from talking about it endlessly — apparently it’s the new ‘web is killing print’ and/or ‘Google is killing journalism’ conversation. To wit: over at the NewYorker.com James Surowiecki picked up on Felix Salmon‘s post about why The Atlantic article that started the NYT end times ball rolling makes very little sense.
The New York Times is not a small newspaper. It has an enormous display-advertisement inventory, and sells most of it at high rates. It’s also incredibly well placed to go national, as smaller papers close, and become a replacement for people who’ve lost their local paper and who shudder at the prospect of ever reading USA Today.
Relax, Times-o-philes. The scenario is not the least bit plausible…The hypothesis of a May closing is pegged to the expiration then of a $400 million revolving line of credit. Hirschorn is aware that if the Times needs cash, it can borrow against the value of its new office building — as it has done now to the tune of up to $225 million. The company also announced on Christmas Eve that it has put its stake in the Boston Red Sox up for sale, which could fetch another $200 million.
New York Times Co. Chief Financial Officer James Follo reported at the UBS Global Media conference in December that the company has two $400 million “revolvers,” the second expiring in 2011. And it has only drawn down a total of about $400 million between the two. So the company could pay off the first entirely and get by on the second, though in practice it will refinance some of the debt to maintain reserves and flexibility.