Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post Co. reported last week that operating profits dropped 28.6 percent in the latest quarter, as the newspaper division continued to struggle with circulation and advertising revenue losses.

The flagship Washington Post newspaper suffered a 15 percent drop in print advertising revenue compared to the year before. Plus, the paper’s circulation continued to slide. In the first six months of 2012, the newspaper’s average daily circulation fell 9.3 percent from the same period in 2011, and Sunday circulation dropped 6.1 percent. 

Online advertising rose eight percent in the quarter, but the $2 million increase was not enough to offset the $9.9 million decrease in print advertising.

The total operating loss in the newspaper division, which includes Slate and Washingtonpost.com, was $15.9 million in the second quarter, compared with a $2.9 million loss for the same period in 2011. The latest results include a $3.4 million expense for severance packages for news staff. Overall, the division’s second-quarter revenues were down seven percent from last year to $151.8 million.

For the first six months of 2012 the division lost $38.4 million, compared to an operating loss of $15.7 million for the same period in 2011. These operating losses include noncash pension expenses of $16.4 million and $12 million respectively for the first six months of 2012 and 2011.

These results are continuing to drag down the company which is otherwise profitable, thanks to its television properties and, to a small extent, its education division. They also show no signs of reversing their downward trend anytime soon.

The more money the Post loses, the more it resembles the formerly Post Co.-owned Newsweek. And we know what happened to that publication.





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