Forget the iPad as savior of the media industry; The New York Times Co. (NYSE:NYT) will be lucky if Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) newest toy doesn't destroy it.

Yesterday afternoon, Valleywag, a blog owned by Nick Denton's Gawker, reported infighting at Times Co.'s signature newspaper, The New York Times.

"On one side, a Times source explains, you have print circulation, which thinks it should control the iPad since it's just another way to distribute the paper. They'd like to charge $20 to $30 per month for the Times' forthcoming iPad app," Valleywag's Ryan Tate writes.

Hoo boy.

I'd love for the Times to be able to charge this much for a digital edition, given the widespread assault on ad revenue that's plagued not only New York Times Co. but also McClatchy (NYSE:MNI), Gannett (NYSE:GCI), and magazine publishers such as TIME Inc., whose parent is Time Warner (NYSE:TWX).

Trouble is, News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS), arguably the most effective company in the world at charging for digital editions, gets only $150 a year from me -- $12.50 per month -- for Web access to The Wall Street Journal and Barron's. I can't envision paying the Times twice that much, no matter how glossy the iPad's screen is.

Of course, we don't know for certain that there's infighting at The Times, but no one has denied Valleywag's report. My own calls and emails to New York Times Co. seeking comment on the accuracy of Valleywag's reporting hadn't been returned as of this writing.

Newspapers and magazines have only one responsible choice here. And Apple knows it, too. Here's hoping CEO Steve Jobs can talk some sense into executives who can't see the opportunity, and the threat, of failing to recognize the iPad for what it is: an enormous lifeboat. Because the only alternative is for these so-called media elite to jump overboard, conceding the digital advertising market to a horde of loosely connected blogs that lack their brand power. If that's the path they choose, I'll be there to short their downfall.

Should New York Times Co. bet its future on the iPad? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.