New York Times to try out Arabic edition

The famed U.S. newspaper is considering publishing online in several additional languages, Mark Thompson says

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The New York Times is to experiment with publishing in Arabic as it looks to reach more people in a region “fascinated by news”, according to its chief executive.

The newspaper currently publishes in English and Chinese and plans to test out additional languages next year, says Mark Thompson, chief executive of the New York Times Company.

“We will look at other languages and obviously Arabic is on this list. We would not want to do anything that was not very high quality, and it’s got to make economic sense,” he told Al Arabiya News.

The British media executive, an ex-director general of the BBC, says the newspaper is looking to publish in more languages across both web and mobile platforms.

Thompson said the newspaper would be conducting experiments with Arabic publishing next year.

“The appeal of the Middle East – whether we do an Arabic edition or not – is that it is a big region which necessarily, because of the extremely complex and unstable politics of the wider region, is fascinated by news,” he added.

“We also believe that a lot of people would be interested in other perspectives. For the really international news brands the Middle East is an opportunity you cannot ignore.”

Thompson was speaking at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, which concludes on Thursday.

Thompson said that global trends in the media – including the widespread use of smartphones – will have an impact in the Arab world.

“In the Middle East as in other parts of the world, very quickly mobile devices – particularly smartphones – will be the main way in which most people catch up with the news,” he said.

Despite planning to publish in more languages, The New York Times is in the process of cutting about 100 jobs in its newsroom – about 7.5 percent of its journalist staff.

Around 25,000 copies of the International New York Times, formerly known as the International Herald Tribune, are distributed in the UAE.

The newspaper’s revenues from print advertising have been declining, but Thompson said online business is offsetting that.

Despite that, he is confident that the printed newspaper will be in existence for many years.

“Demand for the physical newspaper will remain strong for many years… a decade, maybe many decades.”

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