The Washington Post‘s Best Decision

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In the aftermath of the news that the Washington Post Company is planning to sell its ailing and unprofitable Newsweek magazine, NPR had a piece recently on Washington Post Co.’s other business line, Kaplan University. According to the story, on NPR’s All Things Considered:

The [Washington Post] Company is surprisingly profitable because of a shrewd acquisition it made more than 20 years ago, [Kaplan].

Last year, according to the Post’s annual report, Kaplan accounted for 58 percent of the company’s revenue — and it was profitable. Newspaper and magazine publishing accounted for only 19 percent of revenue, and those activities lost money.

This year, the financial magazine Barron’s figured that The Washington Post Co. is worth about $8.5 billion — and $5 billion of that value is from Kaplan.

Kaplan University, established in 1937 as American Institute of Commerce and converted into its current status when the Kaplan test preparation company bought it in 2000, is a for-profit college with 66,000 students, most of them online. The Department of Education is currently investigating Kaplan over concern about the default rate of its students.

Some 87.5 percent of Kaplan’s revenue comes from federal financial aid. So at what point can we say that the Washington Post Company is actually just a government-supported corporation? [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer