tv The Communicators CSPAN August 10, 2013 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT
lee. encore of our presentation of "first ladies," a look back at holly madison. remarks from democratic state senator wendy davis. plusalks about a 10 hour filibuster she led against the texas senate abortion bill in june. >> c-span, created by americans -- america's abel companies. -- cable companies. thatth the announcement "the washington post" has been sold to jeff bezos, we thought we would take this opportunity to look at changes in the newspaper industry and the potential future of the news industry in general. we have two guests joining us this week. we want to introduce you to alan mutter. insulting,spaper
lecturer at the university of california-berkeley on media consultant, lecturer at the university of california-berkeley on media economics. also joining us from our new york studio is edmund lee, the media reporter for bloomberg news. mr. lee, if we could start with you. how big a deal is this sale? in secularig deal terms, at least. in terms of numbers and finance, $250 million is not a lot of money. compared to other media deals, it is pretty small. it is more the fact that it is "the washington post," the storied newspaper. and jeff bezos, on the other side of the country, who is a well-known internet billionaire. despite the fact that he tends to be press shy.
it is the secular interest of the big names behind it. interest in this deal outside of washington and outside of media circles? >> i think the fact that there are probably -- almost everyone at this country has come across amazon, bought something, or been aware of it will get main street's attention. the focus is the power centers. media, washington, d.c., and silicon valley. amplify across the country and into main street. also, what it means for newspapers in general. old media, new media linking up. i think that is what is drawing all the attention and speculation, what will happen to the post, and what will happen to newspapers in general. it seems that mr. bezos clearly has something in mind.
, how big of a deal is this? >> it is a big deal in the journalism timidity. people are going to wonder about will guidew owner the journalistic side of the enterprise. inside the media business, this is a huge story. it's the first time that a true digital native has stepped into one of the legacy media .usinesses and newspapers if he acts in any way like he did in disrupting the publishing business, the bookselling business, the delivery of streaming media, and certainly e-commerce, mr. bezos certainly will disrupt and re-envision what it is to be a newspaper in the 21st century, and how that business remains a business. >> what kind of disruptions could you foresee? much one of the
authors, if you will,, of the modern digital world. he understands the technology. he understands the modern andumer, both of books things as mundane as diapers or pens. i think he will bring together those two threads, his understanding of the consumer and his understanding of digital information delivery and digital commerce. he will bring those things together and say, here is a major national/international brand. it has enormous, rich content. but could we make the audience bigger? are there more ways to extract money from this audience, and could we make the audience bigger and make even more money? >> a question for both of you. how do you personalize the
newspaper business like you do amazon? tv orroadcast on radio or a printed publication like a newspaper or magazine is a one- size-fits-all product. it may have different points of entry, different programs to watch from hour to hour. but basically, everybody has that same experience. digital information delivery means that products can be basedalized in or mislead on expressed preferences by individuals, as well as inferring their interests, needs, wants from such data as what they are reading, where they are if using a mobile device with gps, what they are shopping for, what they have bought. amazon has made great capital of personalizing book offers. if you click on a book about
mitt romney, you're going to start getting other interesting books about mitt romney, and books that people who bought the mitt romney book bought. as publishers and advertisers track people's movements on the web and on their mobile phones on laptops, they begin to develop a profile about that sendidual so that they can ever more personalized content to that individual, whether it is news and information or commercial information, also known as advertising. >> edmund lee, personalization. >> it is a big part of the amazon selling strategy. taking a step further back, the key to understand here is that amazon is fundamentally a commerce company, despite the fact that he has invested a lot in media. if you think about the candle, and what he did to the book business, he's more about trying to make sure as many people are
on his side or his device buying things, and he will sell things. he sells kindles at a loss. he is in a broker relationship with book publishers. he might end up paying the publishers more for each book, but he will sell it to the consumer at a lost -- loss, just to get people to his site. newspapers have become more transactional. the way that the "new york "imes" and "the washington post has engaged in pay walls, getting the reader to pay for the content as opposed to having advertisers subsidize it. the fact that newspapers are headed in a commerce mode in terms of how it will survive or grow as a business, and the jeff bezos has more or less engaged in that very kind of business practice that amazon, that is one of the few obvious links that we can look at in terms of why that might have appealed to he would've thought
that fits into his business acumen. , if youaspect to that there look at kindles, are probably a few million of them circulating in the u.s. amazon will not disclose how many they have sold. estimates are from 2 million to 4 million. that is four times the circulation of "the washington post." you could see "washington post" advantage oftaking the emergence of e singles, -- e-singles, or short books that get sold at a dollar per or two dollars per. the staff could easily pump out e-singles or e-books that you could buy on kindles or any
other reading device, for that matter. there are some immediate overlaps that bezos could start in arn the "post" direction. whether personalization or single kindles or more digital distribution for the "post," these seem to be obvious areas where he might take it. >> how did the "post" get into the position where circulation 470,000? 700,000 to and got into the position where he was money-losing, and available-for-sale? >> there are two main things. the internet, clearly. the internet made content largely free. people started going online to read about news, whether it is local weather or sports or what is going on in the world.
advertisers flock to the internet as well. that is where the readers are. they can buy advertising on line much more cheaply than they could in newsprint. both of those dynamics happening. newspapers lost readers, which lowered circulation and lowered ad dollars. it is not just "the communicators." -- "the washington post." it is all newspapers. since been getting worse 2007, 2008 when the recession hit. some of the blame is on the "post" itself. the bigger picture is that newspapers have been falling everywhere. that hastens the need for, whether it is "the post" or "new york times," to exploit readers and a smarter way without giving away content for free but not
turning readers away entirely. newspaper revenues -- advertising revenues, their primary source of revenue for the business, peaked at $49 billion in 2005. last year they were around 22 billion dollars. more than half of the industry's primary revenue stream has been lost. 40%.lation is down about newspapers have not had a positive advertising number since the spring of 2006. most publishers have cut back on their staffs, reduced pages. those in new orleans have reduced the number of days a week that they print a newspaper. a couple of newspapers have gone out of business. there is been an enormous contraction in the industry in terms of revenue and profits.
one out of three journalists have lost their jobs at american newspapers within a decade. what happened at "the post" company is that, the family having great pride of ownership resisted thehas cutbacks the other publishers have made. made "the post" popular in an hour, but they would have done damage to the family legacy. the gramps decided they would find a worthy successor -- grahams decided they would find a worthy successor, who would have the ambition for finding a way to do what newspapers have done in the past and do it as well or better into the future. >> mr. mutter --go ahead, mr. lee. the family was late in terms
of adopting a product -- pay will product. they could have started that years ago. for example, as "the financial times" had done years ago. that hastened their financial difficulties. they were so late in doing a pay wall. ico" has a pay well -- wall. it was not as if there wasn't a market for it. i think they were trying to balance the issues of being a community newspaper as well as an inside the belt way. i don't want to go down into a debate on the pay wall. item to bestrong made against pay walls. they harvest more money from the
audiences you have. that also keeps people out who might otherwise look at your product and develop an affinity for it. and visit with you more often. some publishers have adopted pay walls. some have not. " company made a strategic decision. they were not late. they made the strategic decision that they wanted to build audience by offering content without limitation, in hopes of building the business. history shows that they have not been wildly successful. but neither have most of the publishers to charge for content. 1% of print subscribers -- a number equal to 1% of print subscribers subscribe only to the digital product. >> gentlemen --
>> if you argue that "the washington post" is already a well respected and well-known brand, and in terms of balancing, keeping readers athout turning them away -- meter pay wall, where you can read a certain amount of articles in a given month, seems to be clever. i don't think "the post" suffers from lack of awareness. if you look at "the new york developed more than 50% of the revenues from circulation, given the fact that advertising has fallen. it has not made up for it entirely, but it's been a big part of their business. >> i agree with respect to the "new york times." netflix has 29 million or 30 million people who are willing to pay for streaming content,
movies, and so forth. times" has less people. i'm glad they can support the work of "the new york times." but it's not a major revenue stream that comes close to equaling what has been lost with respect to print advertising. --what about pay walls edmund lee, you mentioned "poli tico" as well. the "orange county register" is hiring an appears to be profitable as well. what is their secret to success? differentl have reasons for their supposed success. "the wall street journal" had a pay well from the very beginning, since the beginning of the commercial internet.
they were probably the first news outlet to say, we are not giving away our content free. you have to pay for it. everyone said they were crazy at the time. the mantra of the information at the time was, it needs to be free. in hindsight, it was clearly a smart player. they have not lost as much from the internet because of the fact from the very beginning, they charge people. politico, it is an upstart, a fairly to the -- new blog. there is a free version that gets a lot of traffic, relative to its size and given its audience. they started "political protein and -- ao," i higher higher-end subscription model. a deeper dive, for more cost.
by all accounts, that seems to be doing well and getting traction. there is another animal altogether. it is a community newspaper. community newspapers may have a harder time convincing readers to pay. their mode in terms of doing a payroll, still really new and the jury out in terms of whether it is a success for them or not. i certainly are investing money for staff. -- they certainly are investing money for staff. ," "the wall street journal "new york times," and others are what we call be-to-be products. academics, business people. they have always done well in terms of attracting and advertising and subscription rates. it's not surprising that, for example, "the wall street journal" has done well.
most community newspapers have a passionate following. but they may not be able to .enerate the numbers i should say that "the brand and post," the its location as the house organ of the capital of the free world. it certainly has standing in the world to attract subscription following. they might do very well with a pay model online. there may be other ways to go. now under mr. bezos, since he is willing to wait a long time to make money and spend, invest a lot and build an audience, he may say the pay wall isn't where i want to go right now. hand, he might not. he has not asked me. >> mr. mutter, if you were devising him -- when you look at the fact that in the last 10
years, the tribune company was sold for 13 billion plus. post," $315ton million. forha world herald" sold $200 million. "the washington post," $250 million? >> it's a pretty good post for the fact that "the washington post" is losing money. the omaha magazine was not losing money. seen asfington post" is a large and digital enterprise. it was valued at something like 10 times its revenues on the same day that the "new york times" was down one or two times its revenues. the prices associated with newspapers nowadays are all over the map. they have to do with the passion of somebody to want to own it.
they have to do with market fundamentals, characteristics of the business itself. globe" sold for only $70 million trade the "new york times" has to hold onto -- pay $100 million or more of pension obligations. that was a paper that was bought for $1.1 billion when we were living in a different world. i could jump in in the $250 million figure. it is a princely sum. we were able to get good sources to tell us about this. "the washington post" finances -- if you look at a line item in their balance sheet which looks at what they call, earnings before interest, taxes depreciation.
is a good line item to look at in terms of how much money "the post" has been making. $14.5 million in that kind of profit line. newspapers have been selling for three or four times. it's. million, 17 $250 times that profit. it is a much higher premium than metro market newspapers have been selling for. you could call that the bezos multiple. a new standard for what you might pay for a premium newspaper like that. to beund lee, do you have a michael bloomberg, jeff bezos anymore to own or publish a newspaper? >> you mean in terms of someone to find an enterprise that is not doing well? look at warren buffett.
he has been buying community newspapers. and now jeff bezos. i don't represent bloomberg lp or michael bloomberg in any way. there have been reports that he has been interested in buying a big newspaper such as the "new york times." theynewspapers, these days tend to attract people with deep pockets. it requires a lot of money to keep them going or keep them funding into the future. >> the reality is that the future business model for a newspaper company is somewhat uncertain. advertising revenues continue to decline for some seven years. with profitability uncertain, future consumer habits unknown. we don't know what the next product will be to disrupt the way people get and give information. six or seven years ago, if we had talked about the iphone, we would not have known what that was. laptops were three years old.
if you're going to buy a newspaper, you are not buying it for the business, dollars and cents. you are buying it a sense of civic responsibility. , tohe best or worst case help your friends and punish your enemies. these tend to be things that people who have made money elsewhere, and who have a little money to spend on a civic mission -- more and more newspapers are being bought that way, as opposed to being bought as they used to be bought, by large companies and publicly held companies. there is a real change in who owns newspapers. and, according to the interests of those owners, sun communities are worried about -- some communities are worried about, for example, the owner of the red sox buying "the boston globe." how will that change coverage of the red sox? that is the question. >> why is it significant that
the "new york times" publisher felt the need to announce that "new york times" is not for sale? >> i have been wondering about that all day long. i have taken it at face value. there has been so much speculation based on nothing other than the sale of "the post " to make people wonder about whether the family could stay the course. i tend to believe that the "new york times" is not for sale because the company has worked to get rid of all the other assets. it had small, regional newspapers in florida and even one in california. now gotten rid of "the boston globe." the whole company is focused on publishing the "new york times." i tend to believe that it is not for sale, but the speculation
that it could or should be is logical in light of what we have seen in the last few weeks. i guess he thought that the statement would silence speculation. but being an old-time journalist , we could rip off that and turn it into a bunch of new speculations. question.r last does this portend anything for the future of journalism, and the news industry in general? edmund lee. >> it's hard to say. with newspapers in particular, journalism in general -- journalism is changing. it is manifesting itself in different ways, whether it is the blog or through twitter. the intersection between video and newspapers these days. it is hard to say where it is headed.
with jeff bezos buying "the post ," that is one stark example of, here is one possible future for newspapers. everyone is doing their own version of that, in terms of how they feel they will be able to grow their business for the future. with mr. bezos, he is famous for he is famous for not caring about new york term profits. he is willing to take a loss or live off of small margins for the long-term. that is exactly what newspapers need, what "the washington post" needs. if there is a future for newspapers for that kind of journalism, it's going to require that kind of attitude and foresight. >> alan mutter. state oflism is in a complete disruption. historically, most of the news and information we got was provided by large, for-profit corporations, save for public broadcasting and c-span.
it came from large, highly profitable companies. havingre able to support certain numbers of journalists out on the street. as lowe's companies have shrunk, the number of journalists -- those companies have shrunk, the number of journalists has shrunk. we are now at a point where the old owners, many of the old owners of newspapers are leaving. new people are coming in. from war and buffet -- warren buffet to mr. bezos. this new blood in the industry -- these are all successful business people. they're going to go back and revisit the business model. the journalism they can afford to produce, or not afford to produce remains to be seen.
at the end of the day, we're going to start asking ourselves -- we used to know who owned the news. publishing andig broadcasting companies. now we don't know who's going to own the news. until we know who owns the news, we don't know what kind of journalism we're going to get. >> alan mutter and edmund lee, thank you for being on "the communicators." [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] provider. of first ladies begins monday, september 9 with a look at the life of edith rose -- roosevelt and we are showing encore presentations of season one. tonight, a look at dolley madison and first lady of the
united states. ♪ >> dolley was socially adept and politically savvy. >> she was his best friend. she compensated. >> james madison wishes to meet her. >> she carved out a space for women where they can wield a great deal of political power. >> dolley madison would sit at the head of the table and erect -- direct the conversation. >> she got these people to the white house and entertained them. got them together and got them talking. >> this was important to her to ande everyone feel welcome. the means or allies. >>