The Times, Schwarz believes, soon might "need to ask all the American television networks and cable stations . . . to share in some of the costs of sustaining 26 foreign bureaus." The paper also could partner with other news services, such as Reuters and the BBC.
During the past decade, the Times has become more socially liberal than it has ever been.
The newspaper openly challenged Bush administration views on sexual mores, gay marriage, stem cell medical research, abortion rights and creationism -- devoting an entire June 2007 section of the paper to debunking creationist theories.
However, Times' editors made dramatic mistakes by failing to edit some reporters more carefully, including Jayson Blair, who plagiarized and fabricated stories.
A young black reporter, Blair wrote stories about a spate of serial killings in Washington, D.C., that were completely fabricated. He also wrote reports about U.S. Army prisoner of war PFC Jessica Lynch as if he were at her Palestine, W.Va., home, although he never went there.
Rick Bragg, who had won a Pulitzer Prize, relied on stringers to do some of his research, but never credited them. In June 2003, Bragg resigned after publishing an article, under his own byline, that was written by someone else about the Gulf Coast's oyster industry.
Howell Raines, who became executive editor in 2001, resigned in June 2003 after these two scandals.
The central mistake the Times made since 2000 was probably allowing Judith Miller to report extensively, and falsely, about weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs, that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was supposed to have had.
Using undocumented information from L. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Miller reported that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger. That was also false.
"With the knowledge that it had been duped by the government during the Vietnam War and on many other occasions, the 'Times' nevertheless believed in the existence of WMDs," Schwarz writes.
"Miller played a large role -- along with Thomas Friedman's columns -- in giving cover to Democrats who were ambivalent about supporting the war with Iraq."
Clark Hoyt, public editor of the Times, told Schwarz in a 2010 interview there were "notable occasions where the Times has been less than properly skeptical of official government information, and the most famous, relatively recent example is the war in Iraq."
Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch editor, wrote, "There were no secret biolabs under Saddam's palaces; no nuclear factories across Iraq secretly working at full tilt. A huge percentage of what Miller wrote was garbage, garbage that powered the Bush administration's propaganda drive towards invasion."
Decline of newspapers
"The 'Times' will continue to have influence in the national and international community, but it will never be as dominant as it once was," Schwarz laments.
Similar problems plague newspapers across the nation:
| The Washington Post attracts record numbers of internet readers -- 9 million a month -- putting it third behind the Times and USA Today. But the Washington Post lost 136,000 subscribers, forcing it to cut its news staff by more than 400 by the end of 2009.
| Between 1998 and 2008, the news staff at the Los Angeles Times dropped from 1,300 to 720.
| Having been in business since April 1859, the Rocky Mountain News closed in February 2009, leaving Denver a one-newspaper city.
| The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News, both longtime daily newspapers, recently decided to print their papers only three times a week and cut off home delivery.
| The Seattle Post Intelligencer is now published only online, with a tiny news staff.
"Were the Times to cease publication, what would an Internet-only Times look like?" Schwarz asks. "Probably very much what www.nytimes.com looks like today but with a much smaller staff that focuses on newsgathering rather than on news distribution."
The ultimate victims from declining newspaper circulation are citizens who love to read the news and keep informed about the world around them.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.
Schwarz's brother, Bob Schwarz, worked as a reporter at The Charleston Gazette for many years before he retired.