Janet L. Robinson, who served as chief executive of The New York Times Company during a time of rapid change and uncertainty in the newspaper industry, will step down at the end of the month, the company announced Thursday.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr, currently the chairman and publisher, will take over the role on an interim basis when Robinson retires at the end of the year.
Robinson isn’t leaving the Times fold completely. She’ll be paid $4.5 million for consulting over the next year.
“It is with mixed emotions that I write to let you know that I am retiring from The New York Times Company,” Ms. Robinson, who has held the post since 2004, wrote in an e-mail to the staff.
“Obviously, the last few years have been tough as, together, we have navigated one of the most difficult periods in publishing history,” Robinson said. “It is probably an understatement to say that transitioning from a traditional print journalism model to the digital world has been an enormous challenge.”
The Times, like most of the newspaper industry, has been hit with decreases in print advertising and circulation over the past several years. In 2010, the paper rolled out an online pay model in hopes of tapping another revenue source.
While it has pulled in more than 320,000 online subscribers, the company is still dealing with a falling share price. During Robinson’s tenure, the stock price dropped from $35.23 to $7.54, according to the Times report.
Mr. Sulzberger wrote in his e-mail: “With Janet’s vision and input, we were able to convince the then corporate management to make the investment necessary and began to reposition The Times as a truly national newspaper — one that now has 58 percent of weekday and 62 percent of Sunday subscribers located outside of the New York market.”
Ms. Robinson, 61, a former elementary school teacher, has worked at the Times Company for 28 years, her rise to prominence partly attributable to her close ties to Madison Avenue.
As chief operating officer, and, before that, as senior vice president for newspaper operations, she helped improve advertising revenue and circulation and prompted the company to expand distribution of The New York Times into markets outside the city.
The Times is the nation’s second-largest newspaper in digital subscriptions, after The Wall Street Journal. It ranks third after The Journal and USA Today in Monday to Friday print subscriptions, and No. 1 in Sunday subscriptions, with 1.65 million customers receiving the Sunday print edition, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
In the third quarter of 2011, combined advertising revenue at the Times Company dropped by 8.8 percent from the previous quarter, driven largely by a decline in lucrative print advertising. Digital advertising revenue also declined by 4.5 percent, although digital revenue at the company’s newspaper properties increased 6.2 percent in the quarter, the company said.
The Times will be interviewing both internal and external candidates for the CEO position and “could look to the technology sector for a new chief executive as its businesses shift to online formats,” according to the paper’s report. [via Huffington Post, Guardian and The New York Times]