After decades of Rev. Moon's subsidies, Wash. Times shake-up aimed at helping paper become “financially sustainable”

Big changes are afoot at The Washington Times, including the possible departure of executive editor John Solomon. TPM's Ben Frumin reported today that in a “major shakeup,” three executives are leaving the right-wing newspaper, and that “two newsroom sources said they expect [Solomon] to resign” as well.

The reasoning behind the “major shakeup” may be a surprise to many. In its official announcement of the moves, the paper stated: “Today's industry conditions and the general economic downturn necessitate this team-based assessment, planning, and subsequent implementation of a plan to enable The Times to become a sustainable multimedia company in today's challenging news industry environment. ... The process will clarify the steps needed to achieve the goal of a market-based, financially sustainable media enterprise.”

That's right, fiscal responsibility has finally reached The Washington Times after decades of red ink.

One has to wonder what prompted this new attention to the bottom line. A Washington Post article on the Times' 20th anniversary in 2002 reported that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the paper's founder, had “plowed about $1.7 billion into subsidizing the Times” in its first two decades of operation. That's a lot of cheddar to make sure your “bolder, brighter” paper gets out to one-eighth as many readers as the local competition. You can buy a lot of phony attacks on President Obama's "czars" with that kind of money, but the Times has now apparently decided that such expenditures are unacceptable.

What effect will the shake-up have on the Times' editorial content? We'll have to wait and see. In a memo to the Times staff upon his hiring, Solomon discussed making the operation “more profitable” ; he also mentioned the staff's “shared pride as journalists” and claimed he wanted to create a “superior print and online news product.” It's unclear how successful he was at pushing the Times toward profitability, but he seems to have maintained its standing as a major purveyor of conservative misinformation.