Audit Notes: NYT CEO search, Private Prisons, Morozov

Sulzberger looks for a boss with tech experience

Bloomberg News has new details on The New York Times Company’s search for a CEO, which includes “aspirational” folks like Eric Schmidt of Google:

New York Times Co., seeking a chief executive officer who can reverse a six-year sales slump, is looking for a tech-savvy executive to help wring more revenue from the Internet, according to people familiar with the matter.

Paul Sagan, Akamai Technologies Inc.’s CEO; L. Gordon Crovitz, a former Wall Street Journal publisher who founded an online startup; and Mark Thompson, the outgoing director general of the BBC, have been discussed by Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and the board, people with knowledge of the search said. Sagan and others have dropped out of contention, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is private.

Times Co. has said it wants to accelerate a shift to the Internet. The New York-based company has added people with a technology background to its board, naming Massachusetts Institute of Technology research director Joichi Ito and venture capitalist Brian McAndrews as directors yesterday.

— Make sure to read Paul Krugman on The New York Times’s outstanding investigation into New Jersey’s privatized halfway houses for prisoners:

But, as I said, you really need to see it in the broader context of a nationwide drive on the part of America’s right to privatize government functions, very much including the operation of prisons. What’s behind this drive?

You might be tempted to say that it reflects conservative belief in the magic of the marketplace, in the superiority of free-market competition over government planning. And that’s certainly the way right-wing politicians like to frame the issue.

But if you think about it even for a minute, you realize that the one thing the companies that make up the prison-industrial complex — companies like Community Education or the private-prison giant Corrections Corporation of America — are definitely not doing is competing in a free market. They are, instead, living off government contracts. There isn’t any market here, and there is, therefore, no reason to expect any magical gains in efficiency.

— James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times profiles the critic Evgeny Morozov:

At 28 and wickedly sarcastic (“There are idiots. Look around,” says his Twitter [@evgenymorozov] billboard), Morozov has emerged from the obscurity of his native Belarus as a leading voice of dissent against “cyber utopians” — the marketers, entrepreneurs and academics he sees as throwing over the lessons of history in a rush to promote the Internet as the solution to most of society’s challenges…

Most recently based at Stanford University, as a fellow in the Liberation Technology Program, he is putting aside his Kindle, iPhone and iPad to finish “Silicon Democracy: How the Geeks Are Stealing Your Freedoms,” due in bookstores next spring. He says it will be “a full-frontal attack” on Web triumphalists and their reflexive “quest for efficiency, transparency, connectedness, quantification and perfection.”

While others gush about unparalleled change, he finds historic antecedents for the Internet revolution. The current giddiness over cyber-life, he thinks, echoes the 17th century’s fascination with the clock.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,