Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Should A-Rod get his buddy Warren Buffett to buy the New York Daily News?

I just read the recent story in the New York Times about the potential sale of the New York Daily News. The story, by "Bronx Is Burning" author Jonathan Mahler, goes into great detail about the potential bidders for the paper, and about how much circulation has dropped. It is down to just 312,000 per day now; 25 years ago it was over a million, and when Jon and I worked there in the 2000s, it was about 750,000.

I remember that number because at one point, the New York Post  huge advertisement outside the old Daily News headquarters at 450 West 33rd Street, with its circulation numbers written like an odometer, showing that the Post's numbers were 652,000 and rising. The tagline? "Go ahead and stare. They’re real." This ad was visible to all of us walking to and from work, and was also able to be seen from some of the offices. Ah, those were the days of the good old tabloid wars! Unfortunately, those numbers aren't so real now, for either paper.

In the Times article, Mahler talks with grocery store mogul John Catsimatidis (who was furious at the News back when we were there after the paper negatively talked about the cleanliness of Gristedes supermarkets), who is one of the potential bidders for the paper. He discusses an idea he has to save the paper:
“Let’s say you wake up in the morning and it’s snowing,” Mr. Catsimatidis said. “You don’t want to run down to the newsstand and buy a newspaper. So you press a button and you get a virtual two-page image in front of you, the complete paper with the advertising.” 

Um, isn't that what the Internet is? Plus, purists who want to see the paper online exactly the way it looks in print can purchase the digital edition now.

Mahler's article also talks about the state of the paper in recent years:
The News has not abandoned hard-hitting journalism; when it lands a punch, it is still felt in the corridors of power. Last year, a series on the low wages of airport workers prompted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to demand raises on their behalf. In more recent years, though, Mr. Zuckerman has imported a series of British-style tabloid editors to spice up the paper, which has struck some News veterans as a betrayal of its legacy.

The article must have ruffled some feathers in Newsland, as the paper's gossip column had this angry response to it.

At any rate, the story reminded me of an idea my friend Joe suggested -- that Alex Rodriguez get Warren Buffett, who has purchased a number of newspapers in recent years -- to purchase the paper. Heh. That would ensure that the News' relentless tone against A-Rod, the man Bill Madden once called "The Whitey Bulger of Baseball," would change bigtime!  The piece that Daily News Yankee beat writer Mark Feinsand wrote on A-Rod today was really positive, though. Feinsand interviewed him talking about Bryce Harper, and it was actually a fair article.

But let's face it, most of the News stuff is anti-A-Rod. I would also like to see Buffett buy the News to restore the paper to what it once was. (Helpful hint: hire people who actually read the paper!) After all, if it weren't for the News, there would be no Subway Squawkers. Not only did this blog start there on March 1, 2006, but Jon and I met at the paper. (He was my boss once upon a time and responsible for hiring me and having me move from Texas to New York in 2000!) And we had some very good times working for the Daily News. I was always proud to work there!

Also, I was a newspaper junkie as a kid growing up in New Jersey, and the News was my favorite paper of all. One of my fondest memories as a child was how each Saturday night, my father would come home from work as a police officer, and bring home hot, fresh bagels and the bulldog (early) edition of the Sunday News. It was such a treat to get to read the news before everybody else. I felt that same way about getting to read the news for anyone else when I worked there. I also liked talking to legends like Bill Gallo, a truly great man.

Anyhow, I wish the paper becomes a must-read tabloid again, with interesting, provocative columnists with original takes, as opposed to Mike Lupica being a one-man show, issuing banalities in both sports and news. Jon and I still have friends there, too, and we want the best for them.

Hey, A-Rod -- time to nudge your buddy to open up his wallet! Or maybe you could open up your wallet -- and join your frenemy Derek Jeter in the media business!

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