Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Serious journalism: unprofitable, but sustained by the free market

Fun fact about "serious" news magazines in the United States: few of them even pretend to make any profit, and yet all of them are private, free market creations. This applies across the political spectrum, from Rupert Murdoch's neoconservative $1 million-a-year charity project The Weekly Standard to the hard left's bastion The Nation, which is supported by donations has never really made any money in its 140+ year history. Ditto with The National Review and The New Republic. Reason, both the magazine and the foundation, along with a huge swath of the libertarian-oriented intellectual industry, is supported by the über-sugar daddy Koch Family Foundations (aside from the blatant and unhelpful left-wing bias of Source Watch, it is pretty cool). But those magazines are either officially or de facto non-profits – what about those bought with the intention of profitability? Not much success there either – The Atlantic is still unprofitable despite its enviable circulation numbers, and The New Yorker just attained mild profitability after over two decades of losses incurred by the Newhouse family. And The New Yorker's profit is likely due to cross-subsidization by the magazine's cartoon and poster business.

1 comment:

Scats said...

What about The Economist? It would be one of life's glorious ironies to find out it wasn't profitable. Say it is so.