Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Pulitzer Scores in St. Louis

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Pulitzer Scores in St. Louis

Article excerpt

JOA GOES AWAY

Like a farmer idling his field in a federal crop subsidy program, the Newhouse family's Advance Publications Inc. since 1984 has been paid not to publish a newspaper in St. Louis.

Under its joint operating agreement (JOA) with Pulitzer Inc.'s flagship St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Newhouse shared operating costs with Pulitzer -- and received half of the profits of St. Louis' only daily. Last year, that amounted to about $25 million, and it was projected to be $29 million this year. All told, it's raked in $177 million over the years.

It was a sweet deal with roots that go back to 1961 when the struggling St. Louis Globe-Democrat struck a then-novel JOA with the market- leading afternoon Post-Dispatch. By 1983, the Post-Dispatch desperately wanted to go to morning publication and Newhouse was ready to fold its paper, which it ultimately sold to a young and inexperienced publisher under heavy pressure from the U.S. Justice Department. Newhouse shed its newspaper -- which folded for good in 1985 -- but retained the profit-sharing JOA agreement with a 50-year term and 30-year extensions it could have waited to exercise until well into the 21st century. …

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