The Chicago Tribune Company may file for bankruptcy, and the New York Times Company plans to borrow against its new West Side corporate headquarters to meet a cash shortfall. (Full disclosure — as a writer for About.com I work on contract for the New York Times Company, and I’ve been in the corporate headquarters a few times. Lovely building.)
Naturally, some are rejoicing in the downfall of the evil MainStreamMedia, or MSM. Little Lulu got the brilliant idea that some wealthy right-wingers ought to snap up newspapers while they are going cheap and replace the staffs with right-wing ideologues, effectively turning the nation’s newspapers into propaganda rags for the Right. Which is what they’ve pretty much been for the past several years, anyway, but the Right will not rest until they control all information being received by the American public.
Some right-of-center investors attempted to establish a right-wing challenge to the New York Times (like we don’t already have the Post?) called the New York Sun. The Sun bombed spectacularly and finally stopped publishing earlier this year, but not before losing its deep-pocket investors a ton of money. Scott Sherman wrote in April 2007,
Although it is funded by a coterie of wealthy individuals, published on a shoestring and edited by a tenacious journalist, Seth Lipsky, the paper is not a financial success: Last year Lipsky told journalism students at Columbia that the Sun lost $1 million a month. But those losses amount to pocket change for the proprietors, whose investment and ongoing commitment have yielded something else: a broadsheet that injects conservative ideology into the country’s most influential philanthropic, intellectual and media hub; a paper whose day-to-day coverage of New York City emphasizes lower taxes, school vouchers and free-market solutions to urban problems; a paper whose elegant culture pages hold their own against the Times in quality and sophistication; a paper that breaks news and crusades on a single issue; a paper that functions as a journalistic SWAT team against individuals and institutions seen as hostile to Israel and Jews; and a paper that unapologetically displays the scalps of its victims.
They lost $1 million a month? I feel so bad. Snark.
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s pockets must be a lot deeper than those of the Sun‘s investors, because he’s keeping the Washington Times afloat in spite of the fact that it has lost money every year since its launch in 1982. However, even Moon had to scale back a bit and let go of some staffers earlier this year. Times are hard.
I’m not a regular reader of the Tribune and cannot comment on its quality. The Times, which I do read, has much room for improvement in its journalistic standards. Plus, the entire business model on which newspapers rested is eroding away; people just don’t sit and read newspapers any more. However, I think with imaginative and forward-thinking management, the NY Times could evolve into a great news provider for the 21st century. We’ll see what happens.
However, I don’t see propaganda rags turning a profit, ever. I don’t think there are pockets deep enough to carry out Lulu’s plans.