by Shelton Bumgarner
The New York Times is not for sale. But given how topsy-turvey the world these days, let’s imagine it was for sale. There are some key issues that are difficult to imagine.
How much is it worth?
For perspective, The New York Times Company bought The Boston Globe for $1 billion about 20-so years ago. It was later sold for far less than that. But the NYT is probably the biggest, most powerful newspaper in the world in cultural terms. So, the starting bid for the paper would likely be at least $1 billion. And that’s on the conservative side. If it was for sale there would be so extremely powerful and wealthy people ready to pounce on it. The bidding war would likely increase the sale price to something closer to $5 billion.
Who would buy it?
News Corp probably is the one company willing to shell out the most money for it. But the instant Murdoch’s grubby conservative hands were on it, all the liberal marque names of the paper would bolt. They would likely start up a rival website that would essentially The New York Times in reconstituted form. That, in a sense, would make make Murdoch owning it kind of a moot point. All he would have is the brand name at that point and, while powerful, it’s not like he was going to convert the audience of the paper into psycho Right wingers.
So, let’s say News Corp doesn’t buy it. Then who? There are so many wealthy people who would see owning The Gray Lady as the vanity purchase of a lifetime that it’s difficult to think of all of them. My guess is either Alphabet Corp (Google) would buy it or Facebook’s Zuckerberg would buy it personally like Jeff Bezos did The Washington Post. Then there’s Laurene Powell (Steve Jobs’ window.) She has the cash and the interest (see her investment in The Atlantic.) The list goes on.
What Would They Do With It?
The traditional print newspaper business is dying off. It’s just a matter of time. If Alphabet Corp bought the NYT, they would probably integrate it directly into their search. That would, in a sense, be the best case scenario.
Anyway. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon — or ever.