Accuracy in Media

The Washington Times is up for sale but that doesn’t mean conservative journalism is safe in D.C.

From the New York Times

The months-long upheaval at The Washington Times is continuing, as the owners of the conservative newspaper have put it up for sale.

The struggling paper is owned by News World Communications, a wing of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. For years the church has helped subsidize the paper, but those funds have been cut as control of the paper has changed hands within Mr. Moon’s family.

Nicholas Chiaia, one of the paper’s two-member board, said in a statement on Thursday that the company had “recently entered into discussions with a number of parties interested in either purchasing or partnering with The Washington Times.” The discussions, he said, are “part of a strategic effort to ensure that the newspaper remains sustainable.”

The sale was first reported by The Washington Post, which also reported that John Solomon, who resigned as the paper’s executive editor late last year, is one of several potential buyers. Mr. Solomon worked as a reporter for The Post before taking the editor’s job in 2008.

The announcement continued a whirlwind of developments at the paper. On April 25, Jonathan Slevin, the paper’s publisher, announced that the company would not be extending his six-month contract, which ended on Friday.

In a letter to the staff, Mr. Slevin wrote that “it has been exceedingly difficult for me and my leadership team to work with The Washington Times board of directors,” who, he said, had no experience in the newspaper business but were taking an “active and intrusive role.”

He added that that the directors were “either aloof or out of touch with our endeavors, which made things even more difficult.”

Richard Wojcik is the other member of the board, besides Mr. Chiaia.

Much of the turmoil at the paper began last year, when Mr. Moon, now 90, turned control of his empire over to a daughter and three sons. Infighting followed, and the Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, the youngest son, took over as the church’s religious leader, and his eldest son, Hyun Jin Moon, became chairman of News World Communications.

As control of the company changed hands, the large subsidy from the church ebbed and the paper responded by cutting its staff by more than half and eliminating some sections.

The Times, published since 1982, has long billed itself as a scrappy ideological counterweight to The Post, Washington’s dominant paper. The Times has acted as a launching pad for many young conservative journalists, including Tony Blankley and the late Tony Snow. While it no longer submits its circulation figures to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, it is widely believed to sell far fewer than 100,000 copies each weekday.

I was present at the launch of the paper in May 1982 and have watched as the owners added a national edition a radio show etc… over the years.  The Times has suffered from day one from a lack of steady advertising as it’s affiliation with the Unification Church and it’s puny circulation didn’t warrant the spending of ad dollars by national chains for the most part.

While the paper had a generally strong conservative voice since it’s inception it has also been plagued by liberals that were hired to give the Times instant credibility and infighting among some of the writers and editors and raised questions in the conservative community.

In this economic environment I don’t really understand why anyone would want to purchase the paper.  As the paper trimmed the staff and therfore costs it also reduced the size and scope of the paper to the point that it’s largely irrelevant in the D.C. political scene. 

There are some who I am sure will miss the Times if it eventually folds as I suspect it will but with the plethora of news and opinion available online it won’t be a big loss to the conservative movement.


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