Washington Post Co.

Earns Washington Post

The Post’s sale — 7 thoughts on a week that shook the newspaper industry

The week of all-Washington Post, all-the-time has just about wrapped, and I’m reminded of a Mo Udall aphorism about hot issues of the day in the nation’s capital: Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it yet.
Weighing in late in the cycle, let me try to highlight a few takeaways going forward for the Post itself and the industry.

1. The era of the public newspaper company is winding down. Before the Post spun off its newspaper holdings, Media General, Belo and Scripps had already.  As noted in my first comment on the sale, you cannot justify to shareholders pouring money into a long and uncertain digital transition for newspaper organizations when other businesses (cable, broadcast and for-profit education for the Washington Post Co.) offer better return now and in the next several years. Read more


Following Washington Post sale, some wonder if New York Times will be sold next

The Washington Post | The Huffington Post | PBS NewsHour

“One was just sold to a baron of the Internet age,” Paul Farhi writes about The Washington Post’s parallels with The New York Times. “How long before the other one is?

Farhi reels out reasons the Sulzberger-Ochs family, which controls the Times, might want to sell. Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy “reiterated the company’s intent to remain independent,” he writes.

The Graham family’s decision to sell the Post “gives people inside the [Sulzberger] family who’ve wanted to sell ammunition,” news industry analyst Ken Doctor tells Michael Calderone and Eleazar David Melendez.

“I can tell you that a lot of rich people have plunked down huge amounts of money in front of the Sulzbergers and they’ve not bitten yet,” Sulzberger family biographer Alex S. Read more

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Bezos has what The Washington Post needs: imagination and patience

The front page of today’s Washington Post print edition was dominated by coverage of the paper’s sale to Jeff Bezos. But a small story squeezed onto the bottom of the page, about the world’s first lab-grown hamburger, also gave some insight into what’s ahead for the legendary paper — and perhaps the rest of the news business.

The story recounted the taste test of the first lab-burger, which was described as “surprisingly crunchy.” The story noted who bankrolled the newfangled beef: Google’s Sergey Brin.

The Post — like the hamburger — will now be owned by a rich guy with a spirit of experimentation. Using just a tiny fraction of his tremendous wealth to buy the paper, Bezos made clear that he wants to tinker with the Post and explore the future of journalism. Read more

Jeff Bezos

How Bezos, in his first memo to Washington Post staff, achieved believable optimism

Imagine this:

You’re a reporter at The Washington Post and you’ve just heard your company has been bought by, of all people, the guy who created Amazon.

Graham. Bradlee. Woodward. Bernstein.


Think you’re nervous?

Now imagine this:

You’re Jeff Bezos and you know that you’re about to own a building filled with thousands of employees as nervous as that reporter. And you also know that the first thing you say to them will be remembered as vividly as their first kiss, first car or, maybe, the first time they bought a CD on Amazon.

If you’re really good, you’ll say something that leaves them as optimistic about the future of their company as you are.

If you’re really good, you’ll say something they really believe. Read more


Sheryl Gay Stolberg profiles Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth:

In the meantime, things have been looking up. In January, Ms. Weymouth replaced Mr. Brauchli with Martin Baron, a no-nonsense newsman from The Boston Globe (and, previously, The New York Times), who has won praise for sharpening coverage and boosting morale. Reporters at The Post who routinely question whether their publisher “gets what we do,” now wonder if maybe, just maybe, she has found her Ben Bradlee after all.

“She made a brilliant choice,” [Post columnist Sally] Quinn said, “and it’s working.”

Not everyone is so effusive. The Post recently began charging for online access, but the climate for newspapers in general, and The Post in particular, remains tough. Mr. Baron called Ms. Weymouth “a realist,” who “still wants us to do really great journalism,” albeit “within the reality of our economic circumstances.” But he could not rule out further cuts.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times


Washington Post Co.’s newspaper division posts another loss, but online revenue is up

The Washington Post Company | The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s newspaper division posted an operating loss of $49.3 million in the first six months of 2013, the company says in its second-quarter earnings report. In the first six months of 2012, the newspaper division lost $33.2 million.

Those declines were fed by revenue declines but were “largely due to an accounting provision for pensions and early retirement expenses,” Steven Mufson writes. That provision also contributed to a $34.5 million operating loss the newspaper division reported in its first quarter results.

Print advertising revenue was down 4 percent over the second quarter of 2012, but revenue from online publishing was up 15 percent. Revenue from online display advertising was up 25 percent in the second quarter, 21 percent for the first six months of the year. Read more

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Washington Post Guild: ‘The Post would like to fire you’

The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild says a Washington Post proposal for a new agreement with the union “would give managers the power to fire anyone for any reason” and also inserts a “poison pill that would make it even harder for the union to collect dues at the end of the next contract.”

Its proposal says management “reserves the right to terminate an employee for attendance and performance problems” without a written warning and a suspension as is currently required, “in appropriate cases.”

Another proposal, the bulletin says, would “eliminate important layoff provisions.” Read more

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Some Washington Post Co.-owned community papers will get paywalls, too

Southern Maryland Newspapers

The Washington Post Comapny’s Southern Maryland Newspapers — which include the Maryland Independent, The (St. Mary’s County) Enterprise and The Calvert Recorder — will launch a paywall June 17. An article published Friday tells current subscribers they’ll see no change other than a request they register on somdnews.com.

Others will be able to view three stories a month before hitting the gate. Breaking news will still be free, “in keeping with the responsibility we have to inform the communities we serve when something happens,” the article says, as will classified and legal ads.

A one-year subscription to the Independent or The Enterprise costs $44 (plus you get a $20 gas card); 12 months of the Recorder costs $29 (you get a $10 gas card). Read more


Washington Post Co. shuts 2 Maryland papers

Gazette.Net | The Frederick News-Post

The Washington Post Co. announced Wednesday it would stop publishing the Frederick County, Md., editions of its Gazette newspapers. Post-Newsweek Media CEO Karen Acton said the move “became necessary due to changes in the market conditions in Frederick,” a county about 40 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.

Wednesday’s editions of the Frederick papers were their last, and 18 full-time employees and 12 part-time employees lost their jobs, Post Co. spokesperson Rima Calderon told Cara R. Anthony of the Frederick News-Post. Post-Newsweek Media still prints Gazette papers in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, as well as the weekly Fairfax County Times in Virginia and newspapers in Southern Maryland. Read more


Online ad revenue up at The Washington Post, print ad revenue & circulation down

The Washington Post Co. | The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s website and Slate saw gains in revenue from display (16 percent) and classified advertising (8 percent) in the first quarter of 2013. The rises are a rare bright spot in the newspaper publishing section of the Washington Post Co.’s earnings report.

Print ad revenue was down 8 percent. Both daily and Sunday circulation were down, by 7.2 percent and 7.7 percent respectively. Overall the company’s newspaper division lost $34.5 million in the first quarter of 2013, compared with $20.6 million in the first quarter of 2012. The company chalks that decline up to an increase in early retirement and severance expenses. “[O]n a cash flow basis,” Steven Mufson writes, newspaper publishing “lost only $5.4 million.”

Revenue from the company’s cable-television division was up 5 percent. Read more

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