Thursday, December 31, 2009

What's Going on at the Times Anyway?

Since lots of us are only noticing now that The Washington Times is transitioning into essentially a right-wing version of Politico or Roll Call, I thought now might be a useful time to re-post this article from Editor and Publisher from earlier this month.

The basic scoop is that the Times, like basically every paper in America other than The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, loses money. The Post, for instance, is subsidized by Kaplan, which is owned by the Post company, and the Times was always subsidized by the Unification Church. But now the Reverend Moon has handed the business over to his son Preston, who has decided it's time for the paper to sink or swim. Hence, the new Times.

As a business decision, I bet it'll work for them. It'll be like a daily version of the National Review, full of punditry and other cheap content. If every right-leaning office in town pays $.75 a day for delivery, plus advertising, that'll go a long way to paying the freight.

Anyway, here's the re-post:
Most 'Washington Times' Circulation Will Be Free Under New Plan

By Joe Strupp

Published: December 03, 2009 11:20 AM
NEW YORK More than half of The Washington Times' circulation will be free under the new business strategy revealed this week, according to Publisher/President Jonathan Slevin. He added that the new plan, which includes substantial job cuts, is necessary to end the paper's reliance on subsidies from the Unification Church ownership.

"Rev. Moon, who founded the paper, has passed on the mantle to his son, Preston," Slevin told E&P. "He has a vision and is very passionately committed to The Washington Times and wants to run it like a business."

Slevin, who took over as publisher last month, said that means no more subsidies from the church, which had been rumored to be as high as $40 million per year. "That figure is not accurate, but the figure was substantial," Slevin said.

Slevin's comments followed Wednesday's announcement that the Times would undergo substantial changes in distribuion, staffing and news coverage. More than half of the paper's circulation will be free though a targeted distribution to government and other influential officials. The paper also plans to cut staffing by at least 40%.

"The significant component is moving to a controlled-market circulation paper," Slevin noted. "We will cover the prominent corridors of power with that, and if you want home delivery or office delivery, it will be available at a price."

Daily circulation had taken a hit in the recent Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX Report for the six months ending Sept. 30, dropping from 80,962 to 67,148 compared to the same period a year earlier. Slevin said circulation would be reduced further, but did not indicate by how much: "There is still some due diligence we need to do to determine what circulation will result in what advertising revenue."

But he noted that "more than a simple majority will be no cost, it will be more than half, significantly more than half."

News coverage will be altered, Slevin said, stating "the newsroom will be smaller and we will focus on our strengths, which are national security, national politics, geo-strategic areas and cultural coverage, in addition to the opinion pages and investigation."

The overhaul announced this week follows a recent management shake-up in November that included the dismissal of former president and publisher Thomas McDevitt, chief financial officer Keith Cooperrider and chairman Dong Moon Joo, as well as the departure of Editor John Solomon.

Slevin said a new editor may not be appointed, citing the ability of the two current managing editors to run the newsroom. "We are going to have something that is not a traditional news structure," Slevin said, noting the editor post "is not a spot that necessarily needs to be filled."

During the upheaval some employees, specifically former Editorial Page Editor Richard Miniter, have claimed Times employees were forced to attend Unification Church religious events. Slevin declined to comment on the issue.

Overall, he called Wednesday a "bittersweet" day. "It was known that a good number of people will no longer be with us," he said. "But the forward-looking part is that we have a plan by which the paper and the multimedia company will get better."


An Briosca Mor said...

The Post, for instance, is subsidized by Kaplan, which is owned by the Post company, and the Times was always subsidized by the Unification Church.

A very poor choice of words here. The Post Co. indeed owns Kaplan, which at the moment provides profits that offset losses on the newspaper side. But you can't really say that Kaplan subsidizes the Post, since it is in fact owned by the Post, not the other way around. The agenda for the Post as a corporation is set by the newspaper folks, not by Kaplan.

On the other hand, the Unification Church subsidizes the Times in the same way that the Mafia subsidizes that little spaghetti shop on the corner where no one ever eats, and the only reason it stays in business is because it is a "legitimate" front for all of the mob's other activities. That's all the Washington Times is and has ever been, a front for the Unification Church's agenda - which is basically to legitimize itself in the eyes of America. So really there is no comparison between the Post and the Times. The Post is a legitimate newspaper trying to stay alive in a changing media climate, while the Times is a front business that is being repurposed by the still-shady organization that is pulling all its strings.

It's a shame that good writers and presumably good people like Zuckerman, Goessling et al got caught up and spit out by all this Moon-driven churn. I would have thought that they realized the devil's bargain they were making when they took those jobs, but recent quotes from Zuckerman and the Redskins beat writer where they talk about their doubts that the Times will be able to survive as a viable newspaper without Metro and Sports coverage lead me to believe that they unfortunately were brainwashed while they worked there. The Times has never been a viable newspaper from the day it started. All it has ever been is a front business for the Unification Church. They may have done great journalism while they were there, but ultimately they're no different than a culinary student who took a job as the chef in a Mafia spaghetti joint in order to learn his craft, and then sadly got offed in the crossfire during an FBI raid.

James Bjork said...

Speaking of newspapers, why aren't you linking to Nationals Journal anymore? Honestly, it was rather handy.

Steven said...

No particular reason. I just was refreshing the links, and it occurred to me that that was the only "pro" blog. Well, I guess Chris is pro now too. Anyway, it's back. If you people ahve any other links you'd really like, lemme know.