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Today's Topics

3 charts for you today:

  • In the last 4 recessions male unemployment rates have spiked higher than female. This time things look different.
  • Improvise, adapt, overcome! That's what the newspaper industry has had to do since the advent of the digital age. We explore how the New York Times tackled the existential threat to its business.
Coronavirus has driven a lot of us to consume more news and the New York Times has been one of the media companies best poised to take advantage of that interest, having arguably transitioned most successfully from analogue to digital publishing.

We wanted to explore its change in strategy through its annual reports, so we counted the number of times the words "digital", "print", "subscription" and "advertising" were mentioned in each one.
For the NYTimes the transition to digital has been a painful, but productive one. The journey technically began in 1996, with the launch of, but online didn't become a meaningful part of the business until well into the 2000s – with the annual report discussing "digital" much more significantly from 2010 onwards. 

The transition to digital wasn't the only major strategic shift the NYTimes took. Online advertising was a cyclical and somewhat unpredictable business (it remains so). Therefore, in March 2011 they introduced a "metered paywall" allowing readers access to 20 free articles per month, an allowance they later reduced to 10. That was the birth of their digital subscriptions, which – as you can see by how much they are discussed in their annual reports – has become the bedrock of the NYTimes strategy in recent years.

We were surprised in our exploration of this data to see how much "print" is still discussed in NYTimes annual reports. But when you look into their most recent financials (2019) in a bit more detail, that makes a lot more sense.
The NYTimes now counts 3.5 million digital-only subscribers, more than any other news organisation in the world. They also achieved their goal of doubling digital revenue from $400m to $800m one year ahead of schedule. However, despite all of that success in transitioning, digital revenue still accounts for less than half (44%) of their total $.

It turns out old habits die hard, and print sales still make up the largest portion of total revenue for the NYTimes. Of course this is a very simplified view of the economics of their business, as it seems likely that the digital portion of the business would be substantially higher margin, and therefore would represent a larger part of profits than it does revenue. Nevertheless, print is very much a huge part of their business.

This painstaking process undertaken by the NYTimes just goes to show how hard local news organisations are finding life in the 21st century. The slow and steady decline of print journalism just got accelerated by COVID-19 and those smaller organisations may still have some time to work out a digital strategy, but the clock is ticking, now faster than ever.
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The financial crisis that began in late 2007 ended up wiping out millions of jobs across the world. In the US, the overall unemployment rate flirted with double digits, hitting 10% briefly in October 2009 before falling back.

Data from FRED reveals that during that recession, the unemployment rate for men in the US hit over 11%, while for women it was only 9%. That reflected the significant job losses across manufacturing and construction where a higher proportion of workers were male (78% male and 88% male respectively).

So far however, this recession looks to be quite different. First of all, the unemployment rates are already sky-high, reflecting just how dramatic the collapse in economic activity has been. Secondly though, it appears that more women in the workforce have lost their jobs than men – a stark contrast to 08/09.

Leisure, hospitality and "care" industries often require a lot of one-on-one close interaction between workers and customers, and have hence been amongst those hit hardest by the pandemic. They also happen to employ more women than men, on average. This recession is going to be different to previous ones in many ways, and this is just one example of that.

Data Snacks

1) Uber has been busy in building out its empire this week, first taking a $170m stake in Lime (the scooter company), then looking to acquire Grubhub, which has seen its share price shoot up ~30% since the news broke.

2) Rapper 6ix9ine has had a $200k donation to a children's charity rejected, with the charity citing a difference in values.

3) Every episode of The Office, a little over 200 in total, is being recreated over communications platform Slack.

4) Netflix's market cap recently got close to crossing $200bn before falling back. Will it ever break through that threshold? Decide for yourself with the data and charts at Koyfin.**

5) Facebook is going to pay $52m to people who developed mental health issues or PTSD while moderating disturbing content on their platform.

6) Twitter has announced that they will let some of their ~4,600 employees continue to work from home permanently, even after lockdown ends.

**This is a sponsored data snack.

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