Now that The Washington Post Co. has ended its long-standing partnership with the Los Angeles Times it's launching a new service with Bloomberg News, honing in on its expertise with political and economic news.
This is a perfect example of what a traditional newspaper company is doing to compensate for revenue ad revenue, and how it's trying to build out its areas of strength. The Washington Post doesn't want to just be a local paper for the D.C. area; it sees a future in verticals, focused content which publishers can charge a premium for subscriptions and or advertising.
The new "Washington Post News Service with Bloomberg News" will launch in January, tapping into the Post's heritage of political reporting and Bloomberg's business expertise. You'll be able to access it through a page on Washingtonpost.com and through Bloomberg's professional service which is available on Bloomberg terminals and to subscribers. Just last week Bloomberg added a live feed from the New York Times breaking news to its subscriber service, and this is another example of the company trying to bolster its "Bloomberg Professional" service to keep subscribers paying. Though Bloomberg offers some of its stories free on bloomberg.com, many of its stories it only offers to its subscribers and papers that pay for its stories. I'm sure the organization will have to carefully decide which of the 120 daily stories to offer for free on the Washington Post's web site.
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The Washington Post has done several rounds of cost-cutting, trying to compensate for the decline in ad revenue, while the parent company has been bolstered by its Kaplan Test Prep division. This new partnership should help the Post invest in its area of expertise, which should help its regular news operation, while creating a new revenue stream. This idea of charging for focused content has been talked about a lot by News Corp's Rupert Murdoch. He's pushing for the Wall Street Journal to create additional content on topics like commodities and investing, which it will charge for.
Meanwhile bidding continues for Business Week, which came up for sale in July. McGraw Hill's weekly magazine has been bleeding cash, losing $43 million last year and on track to lose $60 million or more this year. Ad pages have plummeted by a third as financial institutions, automakers and luxury goods companies have slashed their ad spend. Bruce Wasserstein, who owns New York Magazine, was considered a front-runner for the pub until last month, and now it seems to be down to Mort Zuckerman and Bloomberg News. Zuckerman is spending $150 million for new four-color printing presses for the Daily News. That investment seems quite optimistic on Zuckerman's part; he seems unfazed by the fact that the magazine he already owns, U.S. News & World Report has downgraded from being a weekly publication to only coming out once a month.
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