'TIMES' AVOIDS TALK OF JAYSON BLAIR SCANDAL

Joins Other Newspapers at Discussing Dismal Outlook for Year

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The New York Times Co. made no mention of its recent plagiarism scandal and revealed little else at today's Mid-Year Media Review.

The company, parent company of The New York Times, Boston Globe and Herald Tribune, last week warned investors its second-quarter earnings would fall below expectations and today

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did not detail the results it has seen thus far.

The Times' top editor, Howell Raines and his managing editor, Gerald Boyd, resigned June 5 after internal battles that were touched off by the revelation former reporter Jayson Blair fabricated and plagiariazed his way through a series of articles.

Job search
Russ Lewis, the company's president-CEO, offered little to reporters immediately following the presentation. Regarding the search for Mr. Raines' replacement, he said, a decision would be known "more in a matter of weeks than in months." Mr. Lewis reiterated the company's previous comments that no advertiser erosion had resulted from the fallout of the Blair affair.

Other companies made little attempt to skirt their own Topic A, which was the still-ailing state of newspapers' economic landscape.

"It's good to see so many of you, as we wait out what's been a frustratingly slow recovery," said P. Anthony Ridder, chairman-CEO of Knight Ridder. "We are recovering more slowly than in any [downturn] I can recall."

'Bumping around'
"No one's calling a turn," said Dow Jones & Co.'s chief operating officer, Richard Zannino, who characterized the company, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, as "feeling like we're bumping around on the bottom."

That comment reflects the differences between the regional economies Knight Ridder's newspapers serve and the still severely stressed business sector the Journal depends on. Mr. Ridder reported some hints of improvements, characterizing the ad cycle as "emerging, very slowly, from the trough," and pointing to an ad revenue increase of 0.5% for the first five months of this year, and a corresponding increase of 3.4% for the last 12 months.

Progress being made
"There clearly is progress," Mr. Ridder said, "but not for help-wanted" classifieds, which are a sore point for the industry overall. Steve Rossi, Knight Ridder's newspaper division president, said that help-wanted falloff was largely to blame for a 4% ad revenue decline through May at the San Jose Mercury News.

Despite Mr. Ridder's remarks, all of Knight Ridder's seven largest markets posted flat or declining ad revenues for the first five months of this year, with the lone exception of the formerly ailing Miami Herald.

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