The Recession

Wait a Sec, Newspapers Already Receive 'Bailouts'

| by Reason Foundation

Ira Stoll, late of the New York Sun, reminds us that, in an era
where we're debating the propriety of subidizing
, newspapers are already being subsidized:

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which now owns the Wall Street Journal, received a
$20.7 million subsidy in 1996 from New York
city and state and a $24.4 million subsidy in 1998
for a new printing plant in the Bronx for the New York Post. The New York Daily
News received a subsidy of more than $35 million from New Jersey when it moved
its printing plant there in 1993, according to Good Jobs New York, a group that
is a watchdog on these special corporate tax breaks. And the New York Times
received a subsidy of $28.7 million for a
printing plant in Queens in 1993 and a subsidy of $18.7 million (the Times itself put the figure at $26.1
million, and noted that opponents said the subsidies could be as large as $70
million) in 2001 for its new headquarters building near Times Square in

And that's just New York.

Like baseball and movies, newspapering, no matter
how frowny these days, is still powerful and noisy enough to
qualify for the too-big-to-not-give-free-stuff-to exemption that most business
over a certain size enjoy. Only through some fading sense of church/state
separation propriety are those deals mostly limited to siting issues instead of
direct cash handouts for newsroom operations.

And–never forget!–the aformentioned New York Times HQ was one of the
more brazen examples you'll find of corporatism in the name of the little guy.
From my 2005 column about it:

On September 24, 2001, as New York firefighters were still picking their
comrades' body parts out of the World Trade Center wreckage, New York Times Co.
Vice Chairman and Senior Vice President Michael Golden announced that the Gray
Lady was ready to do its part in the healing.

"We believe there could not be a greater contribution," Golden told a clutch
of city officials and journalists, "than to have the opportunity to start
construction of the first major icon building in New York City after the tragic
events of Sept. 11." Bruce Ratner, president of the real estate development
company working with the Times on its proposed new Eighth Avenue headquarters,
called the project a "very important testament to our values, culture and
democratic ideals."

Those "values" and "democratic ideals" included using eminent domain to
forcibly evict 55 businesses--including a trade school, a student housing unit,
a Donna Karan outlet, and several mom-and-pop stores--against their will, under
the legal cover of erasing "blight," in order to clear ground for a 52-story
skyscraper. The Times and Ratner, who never bothered making an offer to the
property owners, bought the Port Authority adjacent property at a steep discount
($85 million) from a state agency that seized the 11 buildings on it; should
legal settlements with the original tenants exceed that amount, taxpayers will
have to make up the difference. On top of that gift, the city and state offered
the Times $26 million in tax breaks for the project, and Ratner even lobbied to
receive $400 million worth of U.S. Treasury backed Liberty Bonds--instruments
created by Congress to help rebuild Lower Manhattan. Which is four miles away.