For the second time in a decade, the owners of the Post and the Daily News are considering doing the unthinkable — cooperating. Because times are so tough in the print newspaper industry, representatives for Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman have met to discuss joint operations of certain aspects of the publications. In the Times, Tim Arango (who used to write for the Post) reports that the meetings were spurred by the sale of competitor Newsday to Cablevision in May. Both Murdoch and Zuckerman had submitted bids to buy the paper. The collaboration talks have centered on shared home-delivery operations, back-office functions, and joint printing efforts. The Post recently invested $300 million in its presses, and the Daily News has announced future plans to improve its own. With a joint printing program. they (along with The Wall Street Journal, which, like the Post, is owned by News Corp.) could save millions every year. According to the Times, the Daily News makes a small profit annually, while the Post is in the red about $50 million.
What nobody seems to want is a joint operating agreement — a situation where both papers are combined in all except newsrooms. This is done elsewhere in the country, notably in Seattle, where competitors the Times and the Post-Intelligencer are run jointly. This, presumably, would prevent the two papers from writing nasty things about one another's editorial and business staff. Which might be fine in Seattle but would not fly at all here in New York.