As you have undoubtedly heard by now Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has personally bought the Washington Post for $250 million. But he’s not the only billionaire to buy a newspaper recently, John Henry, who owns the Boston Red Sox just purchased the Boston Globe for $70 million. This has to beg the question of which newspaper is next?
It’s funny because when newspapers first started they were owned by rich people who wanted to share their viewpoint and opinions with others — it was a sign of wealth and power. We are pretty much going full circle here as these billionaires come in and swoop up the newspapers for pennies on the dollar in some instances.
Any number of newspapers could be next in line to sell themselves to some business savvy billionaire who has an interest in news. I’m thinking some likely candidates could include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and The Chicago Tribune (the LA Times and Chicago Tribune are owned by the same company). Granted the WSJ may be the least likely of the bunch to be sold as its owned by Dow Jones which is owned by News Corp.
The Tribune Company has had a tough time with its earnings over the past few years as ad dollars have decreased significantly, falling almost $200 million, or 14.5%, over the last two years. Meanwhile, Gannett, which owns USA Today, has also had a tough time with its publishing division as publishing revenues fell 1.7 percent in the most recent quarter (Q2 2013) due to lower advertising revenues even as the company reported a “substantial” increase in circulation. That’s not good.
But who would buy into the flailing industry? I have a few names: Michael Bloomberg, Mark Cuban, and Warren Buffett (who already owns a few newspapers). Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates also come to mind, but are probably less likely to venture into the news business as of right now.
Either way, turning the traditional newspaper companies into digital juggernauts will not be easy, but it’s definitely possible. I look forward to competing with these guys.
I’m going to toss it to you now: which newspaper do you think is next to be sold?