Corporate Welfare

Newspapers Already Receive Subsidies

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

Welfare queen

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 Manhattan.

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:

If all the news fits, you must evict

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.?

Stoll link via Romenesko.

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  1. The title to that picture is awesome.

    1. Hahaha.

      1. How about a link under daily brickbats for weekly welfare queens?

    2. Yeah, Murdoch’s face looks like it’s on the verge of falling off.

  2. Thank you for posting this. Can you please address the issue of non-farm subsidies more often? Retailers like Target, Macy’s and Walmart get them too. Nearly every shopping center is subsidized. People bitch a lot about public transportation, etc., but the private sector gets cash money that they don’t need or deserve. Ever.

  3. 1993, 1996, 1998?

    That’s a long time ago (all during the Clinton administration – simply a time reference, not a partisan dig). Anything more recent?

    1. Probably! I’m just quoting a blog post.

      1. Matt, I think you gave a very recent example citing the NYT building.

        1. September 24, 2001 is more than 8 years ago.

          What would impress me would be someone naming an industry* in the US that isn’t somehow government subsidized.

          * legal industry. Drug dealing and prostitution don’t count.

          1. These industries receive the “prohibition subsidy”, which drives up prices and boosts profits to obscene levels…all tax-free.

            1. Good point. My thinking is that since every industry in America is subsidized, singling out one industry for bashing (in this case newspapers)is pretty thin gruel.

              1. No, it is not “thin gruel.” First, not every entity in any industry gets a subsidy. Second, the article focuses on obscene examples of newspaper rent-seeking undertaken by some pretty sordid outfits, like News. Corp. and the NYT, not the newspaper industry as a whole.

  4. Mr. Butlers, libertarians are against the government having that money to do stupid bullshit like subsidies with in the first place.

    1. He exposed himself as a troll in the previous thread. Actually, he does that in every comment he makes.

  5. Libertarians are always looking on the dark side; you gotta admit, the restaurant in the new New York Times building, http://www.schnippers.com/, is fun and affordable! Seven dollar chicken fingers and fries help me forget about property rights and regressive taxation and all that other stuff!

    1. They that can give up essential liberty to obtain temporarily cheap chicken fingers deserve neither liberty nor chicken fingers.
      -Benjamin Franklin

      1. Thread winner!

        I might add that Ben did not have to suffer the consequences of consuming high fructose corn syrup flavored chicken fingers or chicken fingers with hydrogenated oils.

  6. 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.?

    But the NYT is below 14th street in spirit, Matt. In spirit. So it’s OK.

  7. He exposed himself as a troll in the previous thread.

    Actually, he exposed himself as a troll months ago. Not sure why i’m in a charitable mood this morning.

    1. Today is the first I noticed him. Maybe my memory is being kind to me today.

  8. This picture pretty much sums it up:
    http://tinyurl.com/ygepwt3

    1. Has anybody clicked on that yet? It is posted in the previous thread too. AnonBot gettign slick or something?

  9. He exposed himself as a troll in the previous thread.

    Actually, he exposed himself as a troll months ago. Not sure why i’m in a charitable mood this morning.

    Ah, but Xeones, were you trespassing on his property at the time? Call the cops.

    1. LOL! Something like that happened in Fairfax County, VA recently.

  10. “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.”

    I’m building a guillotine.

  11. Isnt it amazing how there is always plenty of money to go around unlesss of course you are one of the ones that needs it the most?

    RT
    http://www.anonymous.ua.tc

    1. Thank God you’re okay. We were worried about you. Are you getting enough to eat?

  12. 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.?

    In related news, students from Columbia University and New York University picketed the Times building and demanded that the Times give the land back to the orginal owners. Nah, just kidding.

    1. They were too busy writing papers about how capitalism has destroyed good journalism.

      A+ papers also mention how capitalism is racist.

  13. Has there ever been a time when New York City wasn’t as corrupt as a third world country?

    1. Between circa 1870 and 1930, NYC was a citadel of capitalism and freewheeling chaos. It’s also the time when NYC had it’s greatest growth.

  14. I was thinking about this the other day. So the internet is supposed to have ruined newspapers’ business model and make it impossible for them to make a profit on their own. Ok. But if that is true, why is the US the only place where newspapers seem to be in so much trouble. I don’t ever hear about foreign papers like the Daily Mail or the Guardian losing money.

  15. The NYT just loves slurping that government cock.

  16. Hey, it’s a picture of Santorum’s daughter, from 75 years into the future!

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