FT on Newspaper Ownership

The FT has a confused story this morning on the newspaper industry. Its headline says “Newspapers turn into rich mens’ toys,” but the story’s primary example is The New York Times and its financing deal with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

Now, far be it for me to be naive enough to say that it doesn’t matter who owns you, but I’ll give the Times more credit than that—and as the FT concedes, papers have “long been the playthings of wealthy men.” Slim will have no voting rights, just the right to make near-usurious interest off of his investment (the potential ex-KGB agent buying London papers is more worrisome).

And this paragraph makes no sense:

Newspapers have long been the playthings of wealthy men but a seemingly endless decline in advertising revenues is raising the question of whether private ownership or the shelter of sitting within diversified empires is now the industry’s only valid business model.

Which is it?

That said, the story does have an interesting point today about the newspaper industry:

The $5.6bn Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp paid in 2007 for Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal and several local papers, would now be sufficient to buy Gannett, the New York Times, McClatchy, Media General, Belo and Lee Enterprises, even at twice their current share prices.

That’s incredible.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.