Pulitzer Prizes and the global higher ed industry

News that the Washington Post‘s excellent journalists just won six Pulitzer Prizes for journalism, including for Public Service, Breaking News Reporting, Investigative Reporting, National Reporting, International Reporting, Feature Writing, and Commentary, should serve to remind GlobalHigherEd‘s readers that the Washington Post Company is being bankrolled by Kaplan, by far the Post’s most profitable unit. Kaplan, for those of you who do not know, is a global education company, with approximately 50% of its revenue derived from the higher ed sector. It serves over 1,000,000 students per year in over 600 locations, and employs 27,000 staff according to Kaplan sources. The numbers below speak for themselves:

And in the Washington Post Company 2007 Annual Report, the company had this to say “to our shareholders”:

At The Washington Post Company, every single one of our businesses has dramatically changed over the past 15 years. In some cases, the changes were for the better.

Fifteen years ago we were accurately described as a media company. Over that time Kaplan has grown into a powerhouse, a multidisciplinary and increasingly international education business unlike any other education company in the world. For the last six months of the year, Kaplan’s revenue was almost half of the company’s, at 49%. Kaplan will continue to grow stronger in 2008. The Washington Post Company is now an education and media company (this isn’t “re-branding”; it’s reality), and the accent on education could get a lot stronger in the future.

On the media side, the financial and operational results at Cable ONE have been exceptional. Profits have bounded up during years when not all cable companies have performed as well. Customer service is at an all-time high in an industry not known for that quality.

Elsewhere in the company, the news is not as good.

This is a further sign of the increasingly significant role of private for-profit education at a global scale, and how higher education companies are perceived to be partial counter-cyclical mediators for revenue and profitability. However such trends cannot help but lead to the reallocation of capital away from the media (even despite such prestigious prizes), and towards education, at an intra-firm level.

Kris Olds

6 thoughts on “Pulitzer Prizes and the global higher ed industry

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