Washington Post Co: We are (usually) an education company


For the past couple of years, The Washington Post Co has been trying to hammer home to Wall Street that it’s an education and media company, brushing aside its namesake newspaper or anything related to print. That includes Newsweek, the magazine it owned for almost 50 years. The Washington Post  earlier this week offloaded the newsweekly  to 91-year-old stereo magnate Sidney Harman founder of Harman International Industries.

The move to rebrand the company is understandable since its Kaplan education unit  –known mostly to teens everywhere in need of SAT preparation — pulls in roughly 70 percent of total revenue.

Alas the Washington Post is probably rethinking that spin.  In its second quarter results released this morning, the company warned that a proposed rule change from the U.S. Department of Education could have a “material adverse effect” on Kaplan’s operating results.   The rule, which is still finding its way through the approval process, would adversely  affect  the test-prep division’s ability to retain admissions and financial aid advisers among other things, the company said in a statement.

Washington Post shares plunged about 10 percent today making it one of the biggest percentage losers on the New York Stock Exchange.  And yet, the Washington Post has some familiar company as Harman International is also one of the biggest losers of day.

(Photo: Reuters)

When newsweeklies reigned

This week marked the deadline for non-binding bids for  Newsweek, the challenged publication The Washington Post Co.  put on the block on May 5.  So far at least four parties have come forward and expressed interest.

These are troubled times for weekly news magazines. On one hand, they must try to keep pace with a ruthless news cycle that shows no sign of slowing.  On the other, the best way to do so would be to become more digital and abandon their print editions — but those are what bring in the most revenue.

It’s not just Newsweek. The parent company of Newsweek’s  main competitor, Time magazine, has been fielding questions from investors and analysts about the likelihood of a possible sale — not just of Time but the whole Time Inc. unit.

Is MySpace dreaming of a music device?

    Step right up and take your best shot. Think you’ve got a digital music player that can compete with Apple’s iPod? Bring it. Go ahead. Others have. Look what happened to them.

Think Microsoft’s Zune or Sandisk’s Sansa.

But one of these days somebody, somewhere is going to come up with a device that trumps the iPod. It’s only a matter of time. The question is, who will that be?

Well, one contender might just be News Corp. Its MySpace could eventually be interested in developing a player to go along with the big music venture it recently launched, it seems.

Real estate ‘synergies’ begin at Thomson Reuters

One of the ways that Thomson Reuters hopes to save money after the merger closed is through real estate sales. In that spirit, it looks like change begins at home, in the city where Thomson Reuters’s world headquarters is located.

Here’s the top of a press release from real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield:

NEW YORK, May 6, 2008 – In one of the largest and most complex transactions completed in Manhattan this year, Cushman & Wakefield announced today that Newsweek has signed a long-term lease for approximately 163,000 square feet at 395 Hudson Street, owned by the New York City District of Carpenters Pension Fund.