John Kent Cooke, former president of the Washington Redskins and son of the legendary Jack Kent Cooke, has followed his late father into the newspaper business. Last week, he bought three daily
newspapers and 10 weeklies in North Carolina from Cox Enterprises. Cooke already owns the Key West Citizen daily newspaper and a string of Florida weeklies.
Why is Cooke
investing in the embattled newspaper business? "These are very attractive markets," he explains. "They are isolated. They are not too close to Washington, D.C., or New York City or Los Angeles. As
a result, the news in those small cities [comes from] the local newspapers," There are no local TV stations to compete with. "These papers will thrive on local news, subscriptions and diversified
advertising," Cooke says.
Newspaper analyst John Morton estimates that Cooke's new dailies earn a 15% operating profit before taxes, while the weeklies earn closer to 10%, based on industry metrics.