Rick Edmonds

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Researcher and writer for Poynter Institute on business and journalism issues. Co author, State of the News Media 2006. ExSP Times and Phil Inquirer


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Publishing news direct to Facebook is a big step — but the Apocalypse is not upon us

Sceeenshot from Facebook

Sceeenshot from Facebook

My read on Facebook’s deal with nine news publishers to post some material direct to the platform: yes, it’s a significant business development but by no means apocalyptic, as some commentators are suggesting.

Here’s why:

Good company: It was artful of Facebook and the publishers to assemble nine prominent brands to launch the experiment  — including new media exemplar BuzzFeed, magazine-based National Geographic and four international titles.

Were this just The New York Times, for instance, one would wonder whether the opportunity and deal terms were a one-off match to their business situation.  Not so with this roster.

Favorable revenue split:  The publishers will (for now at least) get 100 percent of revenue for ads they sell and 70 percent of those Facebook sells.  Read more

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Tribune Publishing books a tiny profit for first quarter despite revenue decline

The Tribune Tower on Chicago's Michigan Avenue. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Tribune Tower on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Tribune Publishing completed its second full quarter as a separate company with results much like the rest of the industry, eking out a small profit but still facing revenue declines.

Net earnings were $2.5 million for the first quarter of 2015 on revenues of $396 million.  That’s a profit margin of 0.6 percent. In the same period in 2014, the business earned $12 million.

Revenues fell 4.9 percent total, 5.7 percent in advertising year to year. CEO Jack Griffin pointed out in a conference call with analysts that the rate of decline was an improvement on the last quarter of 2014 when it was 10 percent..

The results are not strictly comparable because Tribune Publishing was still operating as a division of Tribune Co. Read more

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R.I.P. — Six month newspaper circulation reports are gone for good

Alliance for Audited Media logo

Alliance for Audited Media logo

Compulsive calendar watchers may have notice that May 1 has come and gone without the typical report on newspaper circulation averages for the six months ended March 31.

There isn’t such a report and won’t be.

Instead the Alliance for Audited Media is requiring newspapers to report quarterly and giving them the option of updating digital metrics monthly.

The first of the new format quarterly reports are available on AAM’s website and others will be uploaded over the next several weeks, according to Neal Lulofs, executive vice president for marketing and strategy.

The so-called Consolidated Media Reports aim to offer more detailed and more up to date information.  Of course, they include paid digital subscriptions and other variations like free Sunday distribution of coupon packets without the news to selected zip codes. Read more

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New Media Investment Group ups revenues and plans to buy more papers

new-media-investment-group-logoNew Media Investment Group reported a 76 percent growth in first quarter revenues compared to the period a year ago on the strength of its buying binge of media companies.

But even leaving the new properties out, the company was able to keep revenues roughly even on a “same store” basis — a good showing for the industry where declines are more common, reflecting its tilt toward small and mid-sized papers.

The company did book a $6 million loss on revenues of $251 million.  However it again raised its dividend, now $1.32 on an annualized basis on a stock trading in the low $20s.

The high dividend and revenue growth have made the stock a favorite of investors. Shares were trading up 4 percent late afternoon, though the stock has declined in the last several months after its hot performance in 2014. Read more

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5 reasons NYTimes’ financial loss isn’t that bad

nytimesAn 11 percent decline in print advertising and a pension settlement caused the New York Times Co. to operate at a $14.3 million loss in the first quarter, the company reported today.

But the company pitched the period as “a solid start” to the year in light of strong results in both digital subscriptions and digital advertising.  The company added 47,000 more paid digital subscriptions bringing its total to 957,000.  That is the biggest quarterly increase in two years, and executives said they expect to add another 30,000 in the second quarter.

The bigger subscriber base translates to a digital circulation revenue increase of 14.4 percent compared to the same period in 2014.  Digital advertising grew 10.7 percent year to year and now accounts for 28 percent of all company advertising. Read more

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State of the News Media 2015 — A new ranking of digital sites

top-digital-native-300The Pew Research Center’s 12th annual State of the News Media report offers a fresh ranking of the most visited news sites that originated online, with Huffington Post leading the pack and BuzzFeed not far behind.

Also in the top 10 are Bleacher Report, Mashable, Slate, Vice, Gawker and Vox. For nine of the 10 sites, mobile share of traffic now outstrips desktop.  The one exception was CNET.com. Among the broader group of Top 50, 39 now get more traffic to their site and related apps from mobile than desktop.

The ranking of “Top Digital-Native News Entities” are measured by comScore’s count of unique visitors in January 2015.  That methodology excludes legacy-related platforms like CNN Network and the Yahoo-ABC combined site, still first among all sites in traffic. Read more

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A.H. Belo posts revenue gain and a small profit

A.H. Belo, owner of the Dallas Morning News and related businesses, posted a small revenue gain and a small profit for the first quarter.

The year-to-year revenue gain, unusual for a newspaper publishing company, came from growth of the company’s digital ad agency, Speakeasy, the addition of three marketing services businesses and growth in its printing revenues..

Revenue was $65.4 million, up 1.6 percent from the 2014 quarter and net earnings were $307,000, a margin of 0.5 percent.

The result is consistent with the company’s strategy under CEO Jim Moroney of acquiring and starting businesses that will generate enough revenue to cover continuing print advertising losses.

The company’s financial reports do not break out total print advertising revenue but its total of print and digital advertising and marketing services income was down 2.4 percent.  Read more

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McClatchy’s stock continues to take a pummeling

McClatchy_logoMcClatchy reported a first quarter net operating loss of $11.3 million and more deep declines in print advertising today as its stock continues to takes a pummeling.

McClatchy shares have been trading between $1.50 and $1.60 the last several days. That is about half where they were at the start of 2015, and they have lost roughly three-quarters since this time a year ago.

Wall Street values the company at a market capitalization of $135 million,  That’s less than $5 million per paper in a collection of 29 titles in 28 cities including the Miami Herald, Kansas City Star and Charlotte Observer. (See clarification below.)

Continuing the trend of recent earning reports, print advertising was the problem spot, down 15.7 percent year-to-year with national advertising especially bad, off 25 percent. Read more

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Publishing revenue declines continue at Gannett on the eve of spinoff

Gannett opened 2015 with a first quarter earnings report similar to those of 2014 — strong growth and profits in its broadcast and digital ventures divisions, but continued substantial declines in publishing revenues.

With publishing set to spin off into a separate company mid-year, the era of the one covering for the other is coming to a close.

Advertising revenues in publishing were down 11.3 percent compared to the same quarter in 2014. Circulation revenues were also off, 3.1 percent.  For the division, quarterly profits were down 57.4 percent on a net basis and 20.1 percent as measured by EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

All those results were made somewhat worse by an unfavorable exchange rate for Gannett’s British regional papers and the discontinuation of USA Weekend.  Read more

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Among the Pulitzer finalists, traditional treatments dominate

All hail the Pulitzer winners! But as a bridesmaid myself long ago (National Reporting, 1982), I always give the list of finalists a careful read as well.

Here are some quick takeaways on trends among the 27 entries that took place and show in this year’s judging:

*The New York Times can’t win everything.  Besides scoring the most winners with three The New York Times had an additional five finalists.  The Pulitzer board sees all nominees and can thus produce a balanced ticket of winners.  The separate juries, which pick the finalists, operate independently of each other. So it is fair to say the Times’s work bubbles to the top in many and diverse categories.

*Winners and runners-up were frequently from the same organizationsRead more

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