Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Forbes: R-J Parent Is Debt-Free

A commenter, SG, mentioned that the Review-Journal has no debt and clearly that's looking like a better model these days given the bloodbath yesterday at the Sun as well as other waves of layoffs within Greenspun Media Group. The R-J has done some belt-tightening -- pay freezes, slimming the newspaper's width and bulk -- but not any serious layoffs that I've heard.

I asked SG how he knew. But someone else sent along this link to an August 2009 piece in Forbes about Stephens Media Group and its frugal approach. It's worth reading, but here's the part that backs up SG's comment:

One of Stephens' private equity investments is a conglomeration of 40 newspapers, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the North Little Rock Times. It's not a lovely business these days, but it has side benefits. Warren, a McCain supporter, last year penned an editorial in his Las Vegas paper condemning Democrats' plans to raise taxes on the wealthy. With no debt, Stephens says, the papers are in no danger of going under. "If you don't lever up in good times, you won't be hamstrung in bad times," he says.

Huh. Of course, if nobody had ever levered up, Vegas would still have 200,000 people and nobody would've ever heard of Steve Wynn. Just saying.


twallack said...

There's a problem with your RSS feed. Whenever you quote someone -- the quotes don't show up. (The problem: You're using white text for quotes and most people use a white background for their RSS readers. So it's white on white.) Any chance you could change it?


Todd - yeah, i've been thinking about how it looks on the site, i never thought about how it looks to folks reading it off-site. I won't do it that way anymore. Thanks for the heads up.

atdnext said...

Yeah, this is the problem with Stephens Media. They don't even want to invest in a good paper, and that's why The R-J isn't considered a top-notch paper. Obviously the Greenspun Media model doesn't seem to be working either, but just because Stephens isn't in debt doesn't mean The R-J doesn't have its own problems. (Circulation is actually down, the paper has "shed weight", and the web site is ferociously archaic and not user-friendly at all.)

Again, it's just too frustrating to see both papers in such lousy shape. Stephens won't even invest in making The R-J a better paper, and Greenspun is now starving The Sun to death.

Anonymous said...

The RJ "saved" $1 Million in 2009 by not matching 401k contributions. They will restart up in 2010 by matching 1 1/2% instead of the 3% they used to do. They offered a buy-out option in 10/08 and approx. 70 people took the option. They have laid off people here & there in 2009, but no major layoffs like the SDUT, Sun and other major newspapers have done. I have worked for the RJ a long time and they take good care of their employees.

J.T. said...

That's an interesting point you make at the end of that last post. However, I've heard that the late Ralph Engelstad never went into debt when he built additions to his hotel; he didn't build them until he had the money to pay for them. Granted, his property was hardly a flagship Vegas resort (to put it mildly), but it's still safe to say that Vegas would have continued to grow and prosper even if developers hadn't been willing to take so many spectacular risks. And who knows: maybe the city's infrastructure, education budget, and police force would have been able to properly keep up with a slower pace of growth, instead of being left woefully behind. I, for one, thought it was nice to live in a 500,000-resident Clark County with more open spaces and more water in Lake Mead.