The rebirth of the conservative Washington Times is beginning this week. It's coffers loaded with millions of dollars and driven by an ownership that wants to bring the paper back to its original form, Times editors this week plan to begin hiring spree that will double the current staff.
"We are moving forward," says Managing Editor Chris Dolan, himself buoyed with a new contract. "We're starting a two-month push to hire up to 50 people," he adds. Dolan says the initial hiring focus will be on editors for the sports, arts, and metro sections which were eliminated about two years ago when the paper shifted to covering politics and international affairs.
Dolan, who will answer to an editor-in-chief when one is hired, also said that he hopes to lure back several of the former Times staffers let go during recent purges. He expects a good part of the sports staff, for example, to be former Times reporters and editors. He will also be hiring political and national reporters, including a White House correspondent.
And to overcome concerns among Washington journalists that the paper remains in jeopardy, he plans to offer higher salaries than the Times used to pay. "The salaries are going to be better," he tells Whispers. After the hiring ends, the paper hopes to have about 100 newsroom staffers. In its heyday, the paper had over 350 in the newsroom.
The move to revive the Washington Times, once the go-to news source for conservatives, comes after a prolonged internal family struggle over the direction of the paper among allies of the founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, head of the Unification Church, and a son, Preston Moon, who the father entrusted the paper with about two years ago. Under Preston Moon the paper was slowly dismantled and circulation dropped. Moon recently took back control of the paper and some reports suggest that he plans to pour $30 million into the revival.
While it looked like the paper was heading in the direction of eliminating the print product and sticking to the Internet, Dolan says that reader surveys show a strong desire for a full-service newspaper. "Our core people would come back," he says. Circulation has dropped from over 100,000 to about 40,000.
The Times has never made a profit, securing substantial subsidies from Moon's businesses. But in today's media world, many papers lose money and are subsidized by the profits of other companies run by their owners.