The US media crunch continues. Wall Street fell to a new six year low this morning. The Dow dropped beneath 7,500 points, closing at its lowest levels in six years. The market sagged in the last hour as banking and financial stocks dragged it lower and to a new six year low and through the level of last November. The Dow fell 1.2%, to end at 7,465.95. The index dropped below its recent bear-market lows during the day’s trading on Thursday, and had not ended at a close so low since October, 2002.

The New York Times revealed this morning that it had suspended its reduced quarterly dividend to try and conserve cash. The New York Times Co said the reduced 6 cents payment to shareholders would now be suspended to conserve cash and help cut debt. “Today’s decision provides the company with additional financial flexibility given the current economic environment and the uncertain business outlook,” Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in a statement.

The publisher stopped the payout three months after slashing it by 74%. Other US publishers including McClatchy Co and Media General have also said they are suspending dividends. The news came as the company’s shares hit a new low of $US3.51, down 5.4%. they rose in aftermarket trading when the dividend suspension became known.

The New York Times old $US250 million in debt to Carlos Slim, the rich Mexican, is selling its New York HQ, a stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team and is cutting costs across the board as a major debt deadline in may approaches. Mr Sulzberger said the Times expects the suspension of the dividend coupled with recent moves to conserve capital will help it decrease its $1.1 billion debt debt and improve liquidity. — Glenn Dyer

Jury acquits three charged in Russian journalist’s death. A jury today cleared all three men charged with helping to kill outspoken Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, laying bare the state’s apparent inability to find or prosecute those behind one of Russia’s most politically charged assassinations. — LA Times

Advice for aspiring journalists. Live like rats and in time there’ll be some cheese. What makes matters so difficult for now is that the public has trouble accepting the idea that news could be in danger. It’s like believing in global warming when it’s ten below zero. There’s so much news that people think the problem isn’t guaranteeing the flow of news but getting away from it once in a while. — Chicago Reader

Christopher Hitchens beat up by Lebanese thugs during street brawl. Hitchens sustained gashed knuckles and bruises in a vicious street brawl with shoe-shopping thugs during a Valentine’s Day night out on the streets of Beirut. Hitchens, the chain-smoking, hard-drinking, intellectually ambitious Vanity Fair columnist, was beat up during the altercation, according to several blogs. — The Huffington Post

Cartoonists blast NY Post Obama toon. Ted Rall, president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, doesn’t think Wednesday’s New York Post editorial cartoon was penned by a racist. But he does think it was a “misfire,” a “cheap form of editorial cartooning” that fails to carry any real commentary or message and is common in major publications today. — Poynter Online

The Scotsman‘s editor departs. Mike Gilson, the editor of The Scotsman, has “relinquished his position with immediate effect”, according to an internal message to the paper’s staff this evening. The memo, from Michael Johnston, the managing director, adds: “Further announcements will be made in due course. The company has no other comment to make at this time.” Staff interpreted the terseness of the message as implying that the departure had occurred after a difference of opinion. — Roy Greenslade, The Guardian

New York Times suspends dividend. The New York Times Co. said Thursday its board has decided to suspend the newspaper publisher’s quarterly dividend in a move to preserve cash as advertising spending continues to decline amid the recession. — Yahoo Finance

Playboy for sale? As it posted a big quarterly loss, Playboy Enterprises indicated Wednesday that it would be willing to sell the company or its flagship magazine, a move that surprised some investors. — NY Times

Twitter exposes 186 job applicants. For a company that’s not making money, Twitter is being awfully picky about who it hires to come up with ideas for generating cash. The company accidentally published the email addresses of 186 rejects. — Valleywag

Peter Fray

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