Web Revenue exceeds Newsroom Expenses at LA Times

I love the LA Times Digital Edition and its mobile apps are fantastic, but I was stunned to learn how far the paper has come.

David Westphal reports an important and historic crossing of the Rubicon for a major newspaper, recounting a discussion with LA Times editor Russ Stanton at USC: “Stanton said the Times’ Web site revenue now exceeds its editorial payroll costs.”

I’ve long been asked by newspaper people – as a challenge – when the web will cover the costs of the newsroom as it exists. I’ve said it won’t, that the scale of the business is just different.

But if what Westphal reports is true – and I confirmed via email that I was reading him correctly (and it does make sense since both edit costs and web revenue run at about 10-15% of newspaper budgets) – then it means the Times could support its newsroom as it stands – after cutbacks aplenty – from the web. That’s momentous.

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