Arguably the most important daily newspaper in the US, the New York
Times has for many years resisted the move towards colour - a trend that
began with USA Today.
Now most major American cities have at least one paper that prints in
colour, including the ’Old Gray Lady’, as the New York Times is
It unveiled the first vestiges of colour photographs and ads beyond the
occasional splashes of colour in its voluminous Sunday editions seven
months ago. At first the paper ran colour only in inside sections,
choosing to learn the process before putting colour on the front page.
Now readers would more likely be shocked to find only black and white
where a year ago they would have been surprised to see colour.
The introduction of colour, though costly (estimated to have totalled
about dollars 800 million in investments and alliances), reflects a move
on the Times’s part to stem gradual but continuous circulation declines.
According to the US Audit Bureau of Circulations, the Times was able to
maintain its circulation level in September 1997, growing 0.33 per cent
to 1,074,741 for its Monday-Friday run year on year. Its better-selling
Sunday edition saw circulation remain about as flat, growing 0.36 per
cent to 1,658,718 over the same period. Before last year, the Times’s
daily circulation within New York City - a portion of the paper’s
subscribers reside in the suburbs of New York and New Jersey - had
dropped about 12 per cent since March 1991 to 683,000 in March 1997.
Colour has other advantages: the paper has been able to stretch
editorial deadlines later into the day. Advertising deadlines have also
been extended and advertisers have the option to review proofs prior to
Though it’s difficult to pinpoint, industry observers estimate that
colour advertising generates 20-25 per cent more interest from readers,
a number that Times sales representatives are trying to translate into
higher ad rates. Those rates are expected to go up about 25 per cent for
a colour ad page.
The move to colour has also had some effect on the choice of editorial
images. Allan Siegal, an assistant managing editor with the Times, says
that in the past there was a reluctance to choose gory pictures as they
lost impact in black and white. But as Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr, an
heir to the publicly held New York Times Co and publisher of the Times,
has joked to the press in recent months, the Times can ’make even colour
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Circulation: 1.1m weekday, 1.6m Sunday
1997 circulation revenue: dollars 428.4m
1997 advertising revenue: dollars 989.5m
Weekday news full-page ad rate: dollars 75, 978 (mono)
Weekday news full-page ad rate: dollars 81, 978 (colour)
Sunday news full-page ad rate: dollars 82, 328 (mono)
Sunday news full-page ad rate: dollars 89, 328 (colour)
Source: The New York Times.