Mr. Buyer and Seller: What Does He Think?

By Jack Limpert

Want to know what a smart guy who helps rich people buy and sell newspapers and magazines thinks of the current media market? He’ll first tell you to ignore what most the writers and pundits are saying—what do they know about the numbers that matter? And he admits he’s talking some from instinct. But that, he says, is how big money can be made and he thinks the pessimism about print revenues has gone too far and John Henry, Jeff Bezos, and whoever buys the Tribune Company are likely to do better than expected.

First, Mr. Media Buyer and Seller says, because of all the pessimism about print ad revenues you can buy newspapers really cheap. John Henry paid next to nothing for the Boston Globe, and while Jeff Bezos paid $250 million for the Washington Post, that’s only half of the paper’s annual revenues.

Second and most important, he sees a turnaround in print ad revenues. Yes, he says, the trend is still down but he says companies aren’t finding the web as effective a marketing tool as expected: “They’re not moving enough merchandise,”  he says, pointing out that people reading newspapers and magazines are more likely to buy than people surfing the web. And, he adds, the growth of mobile will be of no help in what he calls moving merchandise.

So he thinks print ad revenues are bottoming out and will soon start going up. That makes him more optimistic than people like Ken Doctor, the savvy analyst for the Nieman Journalism Lab,  who has posted a very good piece analyzing the sale of the Boston Globe and Washington Post.

Is Mr. Buyer and Seller right? His net worth is a lot higher than any journalist I know.




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