The New York Times shutters NYT en Español after three years: “It did not prove financially successful”

Sept. 18, 2019, 11:51 a.m.

NYT en Español’s founding editorial director called the decision “extremely short-sighted,” and many others who’d worked on the product or read and followed it expressed their disappointment.

The New York Times announced on Tuesday that it’s shutting down NYT en Español, the Spanish-language site itlaunched in 2016. The site was run out of Mexico City and published around 10 stories in translation and original stories each day.

Fromthe Times’ announcement, posted in Spanish and English:

We launched NYT en Español as part of an experiment to reach and engage more international readers by extending our coverage to different languages. While the Español site did attract a new audience for our journalism and consistently produced coverage we are very proud of, it did not prove financially successful. Our strategy is now focused on our subscription-driven core news report for a global audience. Moving forward, editors will continue to translate signature journalism into more than a dozen languages — including Spanish, which will continue to appear atwww.nytimes.com/es— as part of our core mission, and we will increase investment in the expansion of these broader translation efforts.

This change does not affect our coverage of Latin America, which will remain robust with dedicated staff based in Medellin, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro.

“While the Español audience grew, readers were less engaged than they were with our core site, and we did not see a path to converting them as subscribers,” a Times spokesperson told me. “Also, advertising revenue was also not able to support the site.”

Nine positions are affected, the Times said.

NYT en Español’s editorial teamwrote thatthe site’s shuttering was “a decision based on commercial considerations that saddens us deeply,” and listed its accomplishments [I’m using Google Translate here]:

Since its launch in 2016, The New York Times in Spanish published between forty and fifty translations per week, in addition to theopinion articlesand reports originally produced in our language. Even when selecting, translating and editing articles always occupied a large part of our work, the heart of our mission wasnot only to translate texts into another language, but to bring our readers a journalistic tradition recognized for its accuracy, impartiality and quality, a symbol of independent journalism without ties to power.

The performance of The New York Times in Spanish has been successful under any indicator. From Los Angeles to Buenos Aires and from the Galapagos Islands to Barcelona we have reached an audience that is counted by millions, both in unique users and page views, and we achieve significant and enviable levels of loyalty in the information industry.

NYT en Español did not have a paywall. Instead, the goal was to expose new readers — the Times estimated the potential audience to be around 80 million educated, digital-savvy Spanish speakers around the world — to the Times brand, and to support the site with advertising (it had four initial three-month launch sponsors).

“We have a lot to learn from our Latin American readers, and we need to understand their needs and preferences. As we do, and over time, we will find the solutions to best engage them and, in turn, develop a subscription relationship,” Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, the Times’ international president,told Ken Doctor for Nieman Labin 2016. “All to say, this is a long-term audience development road.”

But now, it seems, the Times sees most of its future in readers who can pay directly. Journalists who’d worked on the project, and others, expressed disappointment that the Times hadn’t been able to find a workable business model for the site.Elias Lopez, NYT en Español’s founding editorial director (he’s now at the Washington Post) called the decision “extremely short-sighted,” and many others who’d worked on the product or read and followed it expressed their disappointment.

Estoy destruido. Heartbroken over the decision to shut down The New York Times en Español (@nytimeses). An extremely short-sighted decision, in my view.https://t.co/ntO0Zq0HoL

— Eli Lopez (@elopezgross)September 17, 2019

But the Times had no plan for monetization. There were no regional ad sale strategies or even a way to try to convert readers into subscribers. Even the CMS was different when i was there – didn’t serve potential subs, produce reliable metrics and marginalized the work.

— Eli Lopez (@elopezgross)September 17, 2019

will someone eventually report out how media orgs keep setting up international orgs as “experiments” in “new audience development” then don’t staff them with sales teams and then close them down for “failing to monetise” because really the story writes itself

— stacy-marie ishmael (@s_m_i)September 18, 2019

La noticia del cierre del NYT en Español ha sido rápida y brutal, y aún no puedo hablar. Pero quiero contarles que, en medio de todo, estuvimos trabajando en esto, para dejar una muestra de que cada minuto ha valido la pena:https://t.co/WQT2UlL7oe

— Eliezer Budasoff (@ebudasoff)September 18, 2019

It is good to see the news industry make and revisit strategic bets. The@nytimescontinues to show renewed willingness to reexamine business/newsroom decisions, a bullish sign for the company.https://t.co/oe5IlnFnB9

— Raju Narisetti (@raju)September 18, 2019

Me rompe el corazón perder colegas y amigos tan increíbles. Me siento honrado de haber trabajado con este equipo, de aprender de ellos y ver el notable periodismo que han creado. Están entre los mejores periodistas en la industria

— Azam Ahmed (@azamsahmed)September 17, 2019

Con mucha tristeza y pesar les informamos que hoy cierra operaciones@nytimeses. Para NY es una decisión «corporativa», pero para nosotros (@albinsonl,@borismunoz,@ebudasoff,@marina_ef,@MJVega,@patynietog,@Nat_Guti,@eldacantu) fue un proyecto al que le pusimos todo el corazón.

— Paulina Chavira (@apchavira)September 17, 2019

Since 2016, the@nytimeseshas published thousands of Times stories in Spanish – some translated and many original. So disappointed to see it end.
I was one of many imperfect Spanish speakers in US who read it daily. I was also lucky to work with some of this amazing team.https://t.co/4iiJHoVai5

— Jennifer Medina (@jennymedina)September 17, 2019

Choosing to serve, or not serve, specific audiences is a critical strategic decision every business has to make, but it’s hard to take@nytimes‘ grand ambitions seriously if they don’t find value in *continuing* to serve ~58 million Spanish speakers in the US.

— Guy LeCharles Gonzalez (@glecharles)September 18, 2019

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