NYT CEO Meredith Kopit Levien wrote in an email to employees that the company was looking for “a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers and the nature of our business rules,” which she called “core” to the newspaper’s business.
The split is evidence of the struggle of traditional news outlets like NYT to make money in the new digital sphere where content is filtered through large tech companies’ algorithms and search engines. On Monday (June 29), Times articles had ceased appearing in Apple News’ roundup.
Apple responded that the Times had only provided it with “a few stories” per day. The tech giant said its news service would continue to provide its readers with “trusted information from thousands of publishers,” according to the Times’ own article.
The past several years has seen the encroachment of tech companies like Google and Facebook on the old ways of news reporting, resulting in massive downward trends in funding for news outlets as the tech companies became the primary vehicle for news. Early this year, Google was exploring ways to launch its own news aggregation app to compete in the field as well.
Apple News was posited as a different alternative with its 2015 debut, with the company promising to work more with publishers, using humans rather than algorithms to sort out stories, and only working with mainstream news outlets. But the NYT reports that the app, which reached around 125 million readers every month, never yielded a significant amount of revenue for news organizations, and Apple took a cut for itself as well.
Apple introduced its next potential way for publishers to make money, Apple News Plus, last year. But NYT said this also proved unsatisfying for the company, finding that it would end up undercutting NYT’s own prices and that the paper would be sharing its revenue with others and Apple itself once again.