Wow! Cablevision is offering a mere $1 dollar to buy the New York Daily News, a major New York City journalistic institution. Before you crack open your piggy bank and pull out a hundred pennies so that you can become a media mogul, please realize, deals like this usually require the purchaser to assume all current and ongoing debts. Last year, The New York Daily News lost $30 million.
So why would anyone want to buy a business that loses $30 million a year, no matter the price?
Some believe that print still has cache, prestige and the ability to influence politicians (look no further than Rupert Murdoch’s willingness to lose tens of millions of dollars year after year with his New York Post play toy).
But for $30 million, you can probably “rent” half the Senate via campaign contributions.
It doesn’t appear to be rational. I chalk it up to “Citizen Kane.” That movie glamorized being a media mogul and certain men of a certain age still consider that their favorite all-time movie and they still aspire to be media moguls and that means owning a New York City newspaper. And, like Charles Foster Kane, the William Randolph Hearst character, it wasn’t about the money, it was about the fun and mischief you could make owning a paper.
The only problem is this: I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone reference a story they read in the New York Daily News, whether it was the paper or online edition. This begs the question: If a billionaire drops a chest full of gold in the forest and there is no one there to hear or read about it, did it make any noise?
TJ Walker is a media consultant. You can reach him at https://www.mediatrainingworldwide.com 212.764.4955