A Reader-Owned NYT

Alfonso Serrano might think that he’s joking:

The Times itself could give out shares of its stock with long-term subscriptions. It may not increase reader loyalty (the stock price is down 37 percent from a year ago), but it may help keep those pesky hedge funds out of its hair.

Personally, I think this is a really good idea: give every print subscriber one Class B voting share of NYT stock, and then give them one more share every three months thereafter, assuming their subscription is still in good standing. The securities would automatically convert to Class A shares if they were sold or transferred, or if the subscriber let his subscription lapse.

The cost of such a scheme would not be great: NYT shares closed today at $16.59 apiece, compared to a standard subscription rate of $10.20 a week, or $530 a year. But the votes of the NYT subscribers would be a formidable force to be reckoned with for anybody seeking to shake up the company, and they could almost certainly be relied upon to vote for the best possible journalism, rather than the highest possible share price.

If the Sulzbergers are serious about the New York Times being a public trust, what better way to show it than by giving their public – their subscribers – voting shares in their enterprise? And it would act as an incentive for people to subscribe and renew, as well. What’s not to love?

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