And now for something completely unexpected: The New York Post recorded a profit for the first time in decades.
The colorful, pun-happy tabloid made money in the most recent quarter, its parent company, News Corp, said Thursday as part of its earnings report.
The Post, which was remade by Rupert Murdoch into the sensationalist, Fleet Street form he preferred, was famous within media circles for being a money-losing enterprise. But it afforded Mr. Murdoch a significant voice in American media. Its aggressive coverage of boldfaced names and intense focus on Wall Street made it a must-read among the powerful. And its financial losses, which at one point reached more than $40 million annually, was considered well worth the cost.
But the irony in The Post’s new profit milestone is that it comes at a time when the paper has arguably lost much of its sensationalist charm and no longer enjoys its reputation as a potent tabloid teaser.
Losses at Mr. Murdoch’s papers in Australia and Britain have forced News Corp to tighten belts at every division in the last few years. The Post also underwent deep cost cuts, laying off more than 20 staff members last year and announcing a leadership change in January. In October, some of the paper’s reporters revolted when they were asked to put their names to a dubious report tying Joseph R. Biden Jr. to his son Hunter’s lobbying activities abroad.
News Corp didn’t say exactly how much profit the paper made, but Robert Thomson, the chief executive, touted the moment and added, “Our task now is to ensure its long-term profitability.”
Mr. Murdoch’s other U.S. paper, The Wall Street Journal, continued to see strong financial results. The broadsheet had 3.22 million print and digital subscribers as of the end of December, a 19 percent jump over the previous year. Of that number, about 2.46 million were for digital-only customers, a 28 percent increase over the previous year, amounting to a gain of about 106,000 new digital customers for the period.
Dow Jones, which includes The Journal, the sister publication Barron’s, and Risk and Compliance, an expensive subscription product targeted primarily to banks and other big businesses, saw a 4 percent increase in revenue, to $446 million. Profit before taxes rose 43 percent to $109 million, a portion of which was driven by Risk and Compliance.
As at other papers, advertising revenue at Dow Jones, which includes The Journal, continued to fall, with a 29 percent decrease in print ads, but digital advertising rebounded, growing 29 percent over the previous year. Advertising decreased overall by 4 percent, the company said.
News Corp reported a 3 percent decline in its overall revenue, to $2.41 billion, and a pretax profit of $497 million for the three months ending in December, the company’s second fiscal quarter.
But the company’s biggest bright spot was at the book publisher HarperCollins, where revenue jumped 23 percent, to $544 million, as the division saw higher sales in every book category. News Corp recently lost its bid to Penguin Random House to buy the rival publisher Simon & Schuster.
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