Investors who think the prospects of a dismal holiday retail advertising season are reason enough to avoid the New York Times Co. ( NYT) are underestimating the Old Gray Lady's true negatives. Not only is the economic malaise almost certain to mute ad volume in the near term, but the decline merely punctuates a trend in newspaper display advertising that has been flat for years. The same goes for circulation. It's happening at NYT's flagship New York Times as well as the firm's subsidiaries, which include the Boston Globe and a handful of regional papers. In addition to a management team that seems relatively slow in coming to terms with the impact of the digital age on the business of news delivery, tenacious media titan Rupert Murdoch is said to be eyeballing the Times' general readership market as ripe for penetration by an expanded Wall Street Journal, which is now part of his News Corp. ( NWS) empire. Although freedom of the press protects the content of the New York Times Co. newspapers, the democratic concept of "equal representation" is not enjoyed by bulk of the firm's shareholders. The family trust of Times founder Adolph Ochs holds 88% of a special "class B" issue of common stock that gives the group the right to elect 70% of the firm's board of directors and direct the outcome of the firm's most crucial business matters. Other media companies have been structured with dual classes of common stocks structured in ways that allow minority holders from the family of the founders to maintain management control. Criticisms have been made that such structures engender management control by wealthy heirs who place high values on their status as keepers of traditional standards and practices in the journalism world. In such cases, it has been argued, short shrift can be given to moves that would optimize the value held by the owners of the other classes of shares.