Rupert Murdoch Plans a NY Times Killer: is the LA Times Next?

The Observer notes that Rupert Murdoch is planning a NY Times killer, with a “New York” edition of the Wall Street Journal. Planning on spending $15 and using the services of the former New York Sun editor, John Seeley, the paper will compete directly with the New York Times. Money quote:

“You could drive a truck through the space between the wonderfully titillating tabloids and the perceived self-seriousness of The Times,” said Stefan Friedman, a public-relations specialist at KnickerbockerSKD. “There is a need and a want.

“With the elimination of the metro section, space in The Times is extremely competitive,” he continued. “There are maybe eight stories in the metro section each day. Take away breaking news and you’re down to half that. That’s where you can reach lawmakers, and with the area being so crowded, [The Journal has] a real opportunity from the PR side.”

With the submission of two links from “the Awl” by a reader (who I will keep anonymous unless he/she wishes otherwise), I wonder if the LA Times is next?

The first link shows the LAT circulation as an “absolute horror show.” The second link shows how badly magazines have declined both in advertising pages and circulation. The Financial Times also has a story citing figures of 383 magazines closing this year. As the accompanying picture from the print version (sorry, unlike the WSJ the FT does not provide graphics with their stories that appear in the print version) shows, revenues are down for each sector of advertising and for each forecasted year, though it would appear that forecasts call for digital to be up a bit, but not enough to cover the declines in overall revenue. The year 2007 had nearly $15 billion in revenue, compared to forecasts for 2010 of closer to $10 billion.

It is clear that the advertising market will not bail out the LA Times anytime soon. So will Murdoch make a move?

It would be consistent with what he knows: newspapers. The WSJ is printed locally in the LA basin. It can easily compete with the LA Times because the LAT has a terrible, politically correct paper that neglects local stories (Mayor Tony’s affairs with developers, businesswomen, and reporters, the local ACORN scandals, the scandal involving Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Obama tape of his attendance at the Rashid Khalidi dinner, and more). The LAT does not even bother to cover Hollywood, much less the basic economics of the DVD and TV sales that drive studio profitability. Readers of the LA Times would be astonished to discover that Redbox and piracy threaten the studio business model.

Can Murdoch make an LA Times killer? Yes, easily. The lack of competition, and the potential readers, even with the economy in the dumps and White flight (Mexican origin people read mostly Spanish language newspapers if they read them at all), make this business case fairly positive. There are millions of readers not served by a newspaper rivaling the NY Metro area in size and wealth. Despite the negatives of print, the sheer ease of use of a newspaper, particularly with the breakfast table, or various waiting areas, or so on, make it valuable and desirable. The WSJ alone (see the link above) has done fairly well in making itself a “national” newspaper. Newspapers can be read in almost any situation, and often have handy information, such as sports schedules for local teams on TV and radio, and other things that add value. [One of my pet peeves about the LA Times is the lack of daily radio listings, including station name, format, and frequency, that the LAT used to print but dumped along with stock tables in the 1990’s. In LA’s fast-changing radio line-up, you’d think this would be a no-brainer, but the Times instead challenges readers to simply surf the frequencies themselves. The little things that add value to the paper went years ago.]

The only question is people. Can Murdoch find the people to create a local, LA version of the WSJ? The NY Sun provided the template and the people for the NY version, and Murdoch has shown he can take a decade of losses (Fox Broadcasting cost around $1 billion in net losses from start-up in 1986 through 1996 in operational losses, yearly) for a property that can make money long-term. But as his MySpace debacle shows, getting the right people to run it can be an issue. [Murdoch bought MySpace for about $580 million or so, and it quickly lost buzz and users to Facebook, which now outnumbers it by 350 million users to about 100 million users.] Unlike NY, there are few people in and around LA used to running a newspaper who can provide something different than the failed, two decade long decline of the LAT.

I am skeptical of the idea that a news-reader as outlined in the Financial Times article will be competitive with the price and ease of use of a newspaper any time soon. Lighting, battery, costs of the device, ruggedness, and so on are all issues, as is paying something like ~$200 or so for a reader and then daily fees for a e-version of the newspaper or magazine. Particularly in this economy. The potential profits of a LA version of the WSJ must be tempting to Murdoch and News Corp.

But there is the question of who will run it? Local bloggers like Mayor Sam’s Sister City, or Luke Ford, do excellent reporting, but managing a newspaper with hundreds of employees, and hard print deadlines, is another matter, particularly balancing that with middle class tastes. The latter is probably more prevalent in bloggers than the market-failure newspaper management, but getting a paper out on time and on budget with quality is pretty rare and requires experience. As always, it comes down to people.

The true tragedy of newspapers is that collectively, they have almost no one who has both the skills needed to manage the production of a newspaper with the middle class tone of the content. Call this one of the many casualties of the “SWPL”-ification of the elites. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the New York Times Holiday Gift Guide for People of Color. Yes. It really exists.

Somali fashion, do-it-yourself henna kits, children’s books that draw inspiration from the lives of Barack Obama and Sonia Sotomayor: it’s not hard to find gifts created for and by people of color this holiday season. Here are some possibilities.

The sad thing is, this could have easily run in the LAT. Without importing ex-NY Sun editors, who will run a LA version of the WSJ?

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About whiskeysplace

Conservative blogger focusing on culture, business, technology, and how they intersect.
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11 Responses to Rupert Murdoch Plans a NY Times Killer: is the LA Times Next?

  1. Pimping my blog-http://dissention.wordpress.com/

  2. TGGP says:

    The NY Sun didn't killed the NY Times. I don't predict Murdoch's new venture will either.

  3. TGGP says:

    "didn't killed". Doh!

  4. Whiskey says:

    True TGGP, though the Sun was undercapitalized (not a problem for Murdoch) and the Times has largely abandoned local content.Murdoch does know newspapers, though how long he will be around is the question. Certainly the NY Times has lost both circulation and advertising, driving its stock price to junk status.The NYT should be dominant — a compact Metro area where things like local content, coupons, local advertising, and so on provide a good revenue stream against lower distribution costs (that compact metro area). But their revenue stream is so thin that they had to go to Carlos Slim for money.

  5. feeblemind says:

    OT: In case you are interested, American Thinker has a post up called 'Poisoned Wells' by Bruce Walker. The post is mostly about the leftward advance of television.

  6. Curmudgeon says:

    Couldn't the NY Post be retooled to do this?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Whiskey – I have enjoyed your posts for a long time at Steve Sailer's site but I am new to your blog – am enjoying spending time here – What neighborhood of the LA metroplex do you spend most of your time in? Because in my neck of the woods I rarely see anyone reading the LA times – various niche media have captured everyone's attention Actually I carry my Kindle and my laptop in my car so it is easy for me to just fire up one or the other to get my news electronically. I am sitting in a panera as I write this. So let me know about your neighborhood so I can understand exactly where people still read the LA times

  8. Anonymous says:

    W-It is imperative that you do a post on the new TNT show "Men Of A Certain Age".

  9. Mr Frost says:

    Whiskey, I tried to email you, but was unable to for some reason. So I will copy and paste its text over here, I apolgise if this in any way diverts you away from the topic. I want to draw attention to something. This is the same message that I've sent to many people today. If you'd to respond this please email me at:drphill@hotmail.com "Whiskey, I want you to look at this telivision advertisment on Australian telivision. Its a government funded campaign to stop speeding and general motor holliganism. They have a decidedly feminine way of doing so, it breaks my heart that its the government, my government, that is responsible for this shit not that I should be surprised. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgV9Oa6z5wY Another link to the same video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqWO7fzwSLMI wanna offer you my definition of objectification. I view as evaluating a human beings whole worth by how good looking they are, seeing somebody who does not fit those standards as low pieces of shit simply based upon their physical charactistics. So I don't think prefeering hot chicks, or in the womans case prefeering a large cock is in any way immoral. I recognise the existence of sexual hierarchy, and inevitiable sexual inequality. Its not wrong to deny a man or a woman who is has a low SMV sex, but it is immoral to treat them with contempt because of it. I wanted to make this clear so when I tell you that I am against the objectification of either men or women, you won't take it to mean "objectification" in the feminist sense of the word. This advertisement represents the objectification of men, and just how superficial, shallow our society has become. Its shows the extent of the dehumanisation of men, when our value is reduced to how many inches of meat were packing. What disturbs me is cock size is equated with morality, Its implied that a man engadging in an immoral act must have a small cock. The whole purpose of this ad was to shame men into a pile of whimpering, castrated gimps. Any overt, exuberant masculinity is met with this absurb pinky waving shit! In an interview a woman from the relevant government department said that "men listen to their mothers, men listen to their girlfreinds", the intentions behind this shit cannot be doubted. Feminists claim to be against objectification, yet its interesting that there first response to MRA's is "you must have a small dick". My question to them and to you men to, is why does having a small cock mean that you have no right to express your opinoin, why does having a small cock make a second class citizen? Again I'm railing against a man with a small cock reiceving less favourable treatment when it comes to sex, that by itself is understandable, but this issue extends much further beyond the bedroom. I want to explore this issue further with you and those of the manosphere, I'm contacting and sending this ad to as many of you as I can find. Take care, and enjoy new years."

  10. Anonymous says:

    "Advocatus Diaboli said…The MSM has become a stenographer for the oligarchs."yes indeed they have. Invest now! The next decade will be great! Jump on whatever new bubble we are pimping! Its funny if you can watch it in a detached, utterly uncommital way.

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