The $5 million question: Why kill a money-making paper?


If you were to close down a major American newspaper, would you kill one that loses tens of millions of dollars every year and is clearly a drag on the corporate books, or one that makes $5 million in profit every year, largely through street sales -- which means winning back devoted customers every day.

That second newspaper is the Philadelphia Daily News, and staffers here were shocked to see our name as No. 1 on a list of ten newspapers likely to fail or go Web-only, promoted heavily by Time magazine. That was the bad news, but the good news is that the Daily News is using its bully pulpit to fight back, so that whatever happens, decisions are made with facts and not with uninformed speculation that seems to be running wild this week.

So here are the facts:

But informed sources said that the Daily News made about $5 million last year, its advertising and circulation revenues exceeding payroll, printing and other expenses by about that figure.

"The Daily News is kind of complex because it's so tied with the Inquirer," said Frisby. "But if the Daily News was losing money, we would have shut it down. . . . Anyone with good business sense would shut it down if it was losing money.

"There was a time when it was pretty close [to running in the red]," Frisby continued. "But we've gotten a lot of inefficiencies out of the Daily News to make sure it could sustain itself."

The paper's average daily circulation stands around 100,000.

This is war, people. How ironic that the Daily News is ranked No. 1 on a doom list ahead of newspapers that lose boatloads of cash, like the San Francisco Chronicle or the Boston Globe, which reportedly is worth so little nowadays that the readers of this blog could probably pool their cash, even in this economy, and buy it. The Daily News is becoming the victim of a mindless hit job, thanks to media pundits who only have enough hours in the day to spout speculation and not perform due diligence. Jim Cramer would be proud.

I've made these same points here over the last couple of weeks, so I won't belabor them again. Unlike these other newspapers in danger of dying, the Daily News makes money even in this business climate, has the kind of local orientation and bond with readers that others are hiring pricey consultants to figure out, and is NOT redundant with the Inquirer -- if we disappeared, 100,000 readers and the 75 cents they plunk down every day would simply vanish into the refinery-scented mists of Philly.

To be continued.