The Berkeley Daily Planet is a money losing operation. The Berkeley Daily Planet pays its staff about $250,000 per year, payroll comprising about one-third of its expenses. Printing, outside syndication fees (as, for example, for the comic strips), and overhead account for the other two-thirds, for a total annual budget of about $750,000. Advertising covers less than one-third of this, leaving an annual loss of at least $500,000. Since writing the above, Becky O’Malley has confirmed that our math is correct in her April 16, 2009 editorial, putting her losses at about $500,000. Even more recently, she was heard to say at a picnic that she is losing $800,000 per year. This latter figure makes some sense since her advertising is down by at least 50% since April.
O'Malley has repeatedly written that she is at her wits ends as to how to cover this deficit. The O’Malley’s were very wealthy, netting after taxes something like $20 million from the sale of their software business. However, they have been running the Berkeley Daily Planet since early 2003, and have therefore accumulated start up costs and losses of at least $3 - 5 million. That would still leave them with about $15 - 17 million, money enough to run the Berkeley Daily Planet (or run the Berkeley Daily Planet into the ground, if you prefer) for many years to come. However, if that $17 million was invested in the same markets as the rest of us, it is likely worth much less by now. Nevertheless, with millions left, and being 69 years old, O'Malley could choose to suffer these deficits for the remainder of her life, or close to it, before exhausting all resources. However, what kind of legacy is that to leave her family (who would inherit much less than otherwise) and the city she says she loves?--just a lot of sturm und drang--that will pass when she passes. The city can wait her out. DPWatchDog.com proposes a better way, namely, to reform the paper, making it into the kind of community asset all Berkeleyans can feel good about, and fell good about financially supporting as well. (All of the forgoing numbers are good faith estimates based upon and extrapolated from information in the Berkeley Daily Planet and other public sources. It involves speculation on our part, but we believe that we are not likely to be far off the mark.)
So why does Becky O'Malley do it? To be sure, she is an extreme ideologue.
Some believe that she is driven by a hatred of all developers, while others believe that it is a life long hatred of Jews dressed up as opposition to Israel that obsessively drives her toward financial ruin.
We have a different theory. We all know "authors" whose great American novel went unappreciated by the many publishers to whom they applied, and who then, in desperation and delusion, self-publish. We believe that the Berkeley Daily Planet is Becky O'Malley's very own vanity press. Our epiphany came when O'Malley proclaimed to the editor of this website that she believes herself to be a wonderful writer. He could only bite his lip in an effort to be polite.
More often than not, and quite apart from whether we agree or disagree with her, the strands of her editorial arguments might just as well lead through a bowl of angle hair pasta. Try as we might, we fail to follow the threads of thought from one end of her articles to the other. Hence, we usually focus on fragments of thought rather than a whole that simply is not there. We read her column because we have to in order to properly manage this website, but how many of you can honestly tell us that you have not given up reading her columns long ago?
From time to time, we will add here an analysis of individual O’Malley editorials. They can be a hoot:
The Mad Woman of Berkeley
August 4, 2009
People we have met who know Becky O’Malley well most often use the words “angry” or “bitter” to describe her. As with most of her writings, O’Malley’s June 25, 2009 editorial is a rambling and utterly incoherent mess.
Full Article >>
Can Israel be Saved?
August 3, 2009
In her July 30, 2009 editorial, O’Malley for the umpteenth time displays her obsession for all things Jewish and Israeli. Honestly, it has come time for her to seriously consider converting to Judaism.
Full Article >>
O’Malley and Sinkinson Reconcile, Agree on All Matters, Hug, and Make Up
September 21, 2009
As most of you know, some citizens have taken anti-Semitism, other forms of hate speech, and other forms of journalistic malfeasance in the Berkeley Daily Planet so seriously that they have urged advertisers to pull their ads. The Berkeley Daily Planet has retaliated with incessant condemnations of these people (we are also routinely accused of trying to destroy the Daily Planet even though we restrict ourselves to research and analysis). The main villain, according to O’Malley, is one Jim Sinkinson.
Full Article >>
O’Malley Pats Herself on the Back
November 16, 2009
Becky O’Malley has the very odd habit of describing her publishing policies in terms that are self-serving and grandiose, but also patently false
Full Article >>
Caught in the Labyrinth of O’Malley’s Mind
January 4, 2010
Look closely at the Letters section of the Berkeley Daily Planet and you will find much about Palestine and Israel--probably more than on any other topic. However, we do not suggest that there are not letters on local matters as well. In fact, one will find letters on almost every topic under the local sun.