Snakes Replace Reporters in Washington Times Newsroom; Paper for Sale

Keeping a daily newspaper afloat is hard. Keeping a daily newspaper owned by a division of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church afloat is even harder.

The Washington Times‘ weekday circulation has fallen below 50,000, and the news staff has withered to just 70, down from 225 in 2002. The budget is so thin that there are snakes in the newsroom because there isn’t enough money to perform necessary maintenence.

“There was a three-foot-long black snake in the main conference room the other day. We have snakes in the newsroom — the real live variety, at least. One of the security people gallantly removed it.”

After Rev. Moon passed the reins of his empire to one daughter and three sons last year, The Unification Church has cut off its annual $35 million subsidy to the Times‘ and existing problems at the paper have gotten worse.

Former executive editor John Solomon is reportedly gathering investors to purchase the Times from Moon’s News World Communications and launch a multimedia news company called The Washington Guardian.