With Tony O’Reilly’s Independent News & Media facing financial difficulty, it seems as if the company is seeking out every avenue to turn things around – even if that means teaming up with its most bitter rival.
According to the piece, O’Reilly had approached Rupert Murdoch / NewsCorp last year to ask for investment in his media company. Murdoch turned him down and the extent of the financial troubles facing IN&M has become apparent publicly since then.
If the claim is true – and bear in mind the Wall Street Journal is now in Murdoch’s stable so it may not be – it is not a good sign for the company’s stability. If it is in such a bad state financially that it turned to its biggest rival for help, giving Murdoch an ego-boost and market advantage in the process, things must be very grim.
Of course that story may be completely false – what is in no doubt is the existence of talks between INM, The Irish Times and Associated Newspapers about a merger of their respective Dublin freesheets; Herald AM and Metro Ireland.
Assuming this happens – and talks are said to be at an advanced stage – it will be the first time INM and The Irish Times has co-operated at any stage in the history of Irish print media. As Markham points out, there will be serious staffing connotations for workers at both newspapers but from a larger industry point of view it also indicates that INM can no longer afford to maintain vanity projects or loss-leaders in Ireland.
The Sunday Independent may dress it up whatever way it likes but The Irish Times isn’t the only newspaper suffering as a result of reckless spending.