Real newspapers have couple different ways they make money:

  • Sell the content subscriptions or one-time price
  • Sell classifieds ads - people pay to place an ad in classifieds
  • Sell ad space for real ads - mostly glossy magazines
  • They are given money from external source - government subsidies or sponsors

Is there any notion of how the Wizarding world newspapers - The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler - finance themselves? I seem to recall someone paying money for The Prophet, but can't find it in the books.


TL;DR: There are definitely money from selling the publication; there are also ads AND classifieds.

Here's what we DO know:

  • Daily Prophet definitely makes money on selling the paper.

    'My gran says that's rubbish,' piped up Neville. 'She says it's the Daily Prophet that's going downhill, not Dumbledore. She's cancelled our subscription... (Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 11, "The Sorting Hat's New Song")

    Hermione, however, had to move her orange juice aside quickly to make way for a large damp barn owl bearing a sodden Daily Prophet in its beak.
    'What are you still getting that for?' said Harry irritably, thinking of Seamus as Hermione placed a Knut in the leather pouch on the owl's leg and it took off again. 'I'm not bothering . . . load of rubbish.' (Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12, "Professor Umbridge")

    Interestingly, it seems that you pay issue by issue, on delivery; unlike typical Muggle newspaper subscriptions, as we see Hermione pay again a bit later:

    But she broke off; the morning post was arriving and, as usual, the Daily Prophet was soaring towards her in the beak of a screech owl, which landed perilously close to the sugar bowl and held out a leg. Hermione pushed a Knut into its leather pouch, took the newspaper, and scanned the front page critically as the owl took off. (OotP, Chapter 14, Percy and Padfoot)

    ... and later

    Hermione was not the only person eagerly awaiting her Daily Prophet: nearly everyone was eager for more news about the escaped Death Eaters, ... She gave the delivery owl a Knut and unfolded the newspaper eagerly (OotP, Chapter 26, "Seen and Unforeseen")

    I think there was also a mention of Harry paying for his own newspaper as well at some point but this should be enough proof as it is.

    • An additional confirmation is on Pottermore (Book4/Chapter18/Moment2 - Daily Prophet), but that adds more confusion than clarity: All the above quotes say the paper costs a Knut, whereas Pottermore says it costs 5 Knuts!!!

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  • Quibbler also sells issues:

    'It's good, isn't it?' said Luna, who had drifted over to the Gryffindor table and now squeezed herself on to the bench between Fred and Ron. 'It came out yesterday, I asked Dad to send you a free copy. I expect all these,' she waved a hand at the assembled owls still scrabbling around on the table in front of Harry, 'are letters from readers.' (Order of the Phoenix, Ch 26, "Seen and Unforeseen")

    Now, if Quibbler was free, Luna wouldn't specify that Harry got a free copy. This is even more strongly confirmed later in the chapter:

    To cap it all, Luna told him over dinner that no issue of The Quibbler had ever sold out faster.

    However, interestingly enough, Quibbler seems to NOT be designed to make a profit:

    'The Prophet exists to sell itself, you silly girl,' she {Rita} said coldly.
    'My dad thinks it's an awful paper,' said Luna, chipping into the conversation unexpectedly. Sucking on her cocktail onion, she gazed at Rita with her enormous, protuberant, slightly mad eyes. 'He publishes important stories he thinks the public needs to know. He doesn't care about making money.' (OotP, Ch. 25, The Beetle at Bay)

    This is in sync with their publishing policy: Prophet pays for stories, Quibbler doesn't (from the same conversation in Ch25):

    'All right, let's say for a moment I'll do it,' she said abruptly. 'What kind of fee am I going to get?'
    'I don't think Daddy exactly pays people to write for the magazine,' said Luna dreamily. 'They do it because it's an honour and, of course, to see their names in print.'
    Rita Skeeter looked as though the taste of Stinksap was strong in her mouth again as she rounded on Hermione.
    'I'm supposed to do this for free?'

  • Daily Prophet definitely has classifieds. But it's not clear if they are paid, or craigslist-style free:

    What you need, Harry, is some food and sleep. I suggest you go down to the feast, while I write to Azkaban – we need our gamekeeper back. And I must draft an advertisement for the Daily Prophet, too,' he added thoughtfully. 'We'll be needing a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Dear me, we do seem to run through them, don't we?' (Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 18 "Dobby's Reward")

  • It's also possible they have straight-up commercial ads:

    (Hermione's letter) I bought your present by owl-order; there was an advertisement in the Daily Prophet (I've been getting it delivered, it's so good to keep up with what's going on in the wizarding world). (Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter1, "Owl Post")

  • Another interesting (but probably less usual) income source is selling rights to your own stories that you have exclusives on:

    'Daddy sold it to them,' [To Daily Prophet, referring to Harry's Skeeter interview, the one she wrote for free - DVK] said Luna vaguely, turning a page of The Quibbler. 'He got a very good price for it, too, so we're going to go on an expedition to Sweden this summer to see if we can catch a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.'

  • There are other published papers, but we aren't really given much info about them ("Witch Weekly" and apparently small village newspapers which Rita Skeeter mentions when she hears that Luna's father would be printing her story about Harry in OotP). Pottermore says that only Prophet exists as "mass" newspaper.

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    There was also a series of adverts created for the film, that ultimately got cut from the final edit; i.stack.imgur.com/fPI0t.png – Valorum May 17 '14 at 15:37
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    Some of them can be seen on the studio tour. They were created for the film but tour stuff is generally considered non-canon; willhillauthor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/… – Valorum May 17 '14 at 15:39
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    NOTE: Wikia also mentioned "A classified advertisements section is in the newspaper, with subheadings of JOBS, FOR SALE, and LONELY HEARTS." detail but I haven't been able to find the source yet. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 17 '14 at 15:55
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    I'm convinced that's intentional. The quibbler is owned and run by a family of eccentrics. – Valorum May 17 '14 at 16:32
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    The price of five knuts, as given by Pottermore, also appears in Chapter 5 of Philosopher's Stone, where an owl delivers the paper and Hagrid explains "He wants payin' fer deliverin' the paper... Give him five knuts." Perhaps Hermione has gotten a special student rate? – Wolfgang Jul 28 '17 at 2:26

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