By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post

 

New York TimesWhen Arthur Sulzberger Jr. refused to talk to his own reporter about the financial condition of the New York Times Co., it was the latest sign of an industry in deep trouble.

After all, the Times is not only the nation’s top-selling metropolitan daily but also boasts the top newspaper Web site, averaging 19.5 million unique visitors each month. Its struggles have sparked a passionate debate about how to wring more cash from the online world where the Times, like most newspapers, gives away its wares for free.

Sulzberger, the chief executive, declined to comment for an article last week that described the Times Co. borrowing $250 million at 14 percent interest from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu — described by the paper two years ago as having a “robber baron reputation”– while trying to arrange a sale-leaseback of its Manhattan headquarters and unload its stake in the Boston Red Sox.

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