Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Found! Someone Who’s Optimistic About the New York Times!

The New York Times is doomed, right? This is becoming conventional wisdom among the Web cognoscenti, which gives them occasion to shake their heads ruefully and/or chastise the paper for not becoming Webby enough (never mind that the paper’s problem isn’t its inability to “influence the conversation”–it’s about not  selling enough ads to cover its payroll).

But here, for what it’s worth, is a vote of confidence from people who presumably don’t care that the Times has yet to hire an army of semipro bloggers: Professional investors. Harbinger Capital Partners, the largest public shareholder in the New York Times (NYT), has purchased yet another block of stock. Last week the fund bought 50,000 shares at $5.12 a piece, according to a SEC filing.

The good news: Those shares were worth $6.64 each when the market closed on Monday. That’s a profit of $76,000 in a couple days.

The bad news: Harbinger has been steadily acquiring stock since last winter. And over that stretch of time, it has gotten hammered. In March, it owned 28.3 million shares worth $18.43 each–a 20 percent stake in the company, worth about $521 million. As of yesterday, it owned 28.5 million shares, worth $189 million.

Maybe the cognoscenti are onto something, after all.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald