Declining ‘Washington Post’ and ‘Boston Globe’ Sold

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will buy The Washington Post for $250mm cash. Whether or not this is a good deal remains to be seen, since, according to The Guardian in 2012:

The Washington Post Company’s newspaper division has lost money in 13 of the last 15 quarters. Total loss over that period: $412m. The latest quarterly figures reveal a $23m loss and a 7% drop in revenue. Indeed, revenue has now slithered down in 20 of the last 22 quarterly returns. Last year’s annual figures show it at $314m, a third less than in 2006. Print advertising has shrivelled by 53% in that period. As for digital ad revenue, and supposed salvation, that’s down too – by 8% in the new returns. Amazingly, it too has slipped back over the past five years.

It’s doubtful things have improved for The WP since 2012.

Buying legacy newspapers that are losing money has become something of a hobby for rich guys in recent years. Sam Zell bought The Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times in 2007 and failed miserably in his attempt to turn the papers around.

And Friday, we learned The News York Times Company sold The Boston Globe to Red Sox owner John Henry for a measly $70 million. The NYT Co. bought the Globe back in 1993 for $1.1 billion. It doesn’t look like those values are adjusted for inflation, so we’re looking at a decline of price in 93 percent in nominal dollars. It would be worse if in real dollars. (93 percent? I had to double check my math on that.)

5:10 pm on August 5, 2013