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


nytimes250

4 reasons the New York Times Company won’t be sold anytime soon

New York Times Sales
We learned last week that Michael Bloomberg would like to buy the New York Times Company. He even spoke to Chairman Arthur Sulzberger about it a couple of years ago. So what else is new? Rupert Murdoch covets the Times as well.

The only live question is whether the Sulzberger family would sell.  Through a spokesman Sulzberger said Friday, as he has many times before, that the company was not on the market whatever the offer.

Case closed?  Not quite.  The Wall Street Journal was not for sale until Murdoch’s News Corp. made the Bancroft family an offer — 67 percent above their shares’ trading value — they felt they could not refuse.  Nor did any but the inner circle know the Graham’s Washington Post was for sale until Jeff Bezos bought it in August 2013. Read more

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Gannett

Corporate raider Carl Icahn sets his sights on Gannett

Gannett has yet to complete the split of the company in two, spinning off publishing from television and digital, but the prospect already has a famous corporate shark nibbling.

Carl Icahn, who controls 6.6 percent of Gannett stock asked in a letter Wednesday for two seats on the board.

He also expressed particular concern that each of the new companies be open to takeover bids and not adopt any of the defenses management can use to fend off unwelcome offers.

His letter to Gannett CEO Gracia Martore charges that the capital structure and plans for the publishing unit have been badly communicated to the market, resulting in an 8 percent decline in Gannett stock since plans to divide the company were announced in August.

Icahn further wrote:

We have spoken with many large Gannett shareholders since we first announced our position.

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time-spent

Time spent or time well spent — how to think about Web traffic

The search for meaningful digital audience metrics took a turn for the better in 2014 when Chartbeat and others began touting time spent and engagement as a superior measure to uniques and page views.

In recent months, though, time spent is coming in for criticism of its own as too blunt a metric that shortchanges brief and engaging news summaries and potentially rewards time-wasters like clickbait photo galleries.  The newer audience metrics question is now whether “time well spent” can be quantified.

(Screenshot/chartbeat.com)

(Screenshot/chartbeat.com)

An opening shot in this little counter-revolution was fired last September by Cory Bergman, general manager of MSNBC’s Breaking News site and a former member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board. For a service like his built around speed and compact  summaries, Bergman said, he would rather focus on “time saved”  rather than time spent. Read more

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Sorry, journos: Heavy use of social media is not stressful, study says

The Pew Research Center’s latest internet study, out this morning, uses some intricate survey methodology to come to a straightforward finding: heavy users of social media, Facebook particularly, are not stressed by the experience.

That’s noteworthy in light of a spate of think pieces and entire books arguing that digital information overload is messing with our minds and lowering the quality of life for many.

But a survey of 1,800 people, using a established scale for measuring stress, found that internet/cell phone/ social media users are not finding “that their life is is overloaded, unpredictable and uncontrollable” as a result.

I asked whether the study tried to measure the impact of heavy news consumption via social media. Co-authors Lee Rainie of Pew Research and Keith Hampton of Rutgers University both said no — but that might be a good question for another day. Read more

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tribuneAP

Reuters loses Tribune but is not quitting yet

General view of a Reuters building at Canary Wharf in London, Tuesday, May 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

General view of a Reuters building at Canary Wharf in London, Tuesday, May 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Reuters attempts to build a competitive wire service to the Associated Press suffered a major setback over the holidays when the Chicago Tribune and six sister papers ended a two-year relationship and switched back to the AP.

That was a double sting. Besides being Reuters’ biggest and most prominent client, Chicago Tribune editor Gerould Kern had spent several years helping build out the substitute service before it formally launched (as I recounted in a detailed story last summer),

But Steven Schwartz, global managing director of the Reuters news agency, told me in an e-mail interview that he is not throwing in the towel. He wrote:

We are grateful for all of the Tribune’s insight and input in the early days to help make the Reuters America service exceptionally strong and we expect they will be back as a customer sometime down the road.

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advance-local

Advance claims digital ad growth will outpace print declines in 2015

Advance Publications’ much debated five-year-old strategy of discontinuing some days of daily print editions to devote added resources to digital is poised to achieve a critical crossover point in 2015: digital advertising gains will exceed print newspaper ad losses, the company claims.

In a bi-annual letter to employees today, Advance Local President Randy Siegel, writes:

Our local sales and marketing teams have leveraged their entrepreneurial abilities and expansive digital knowledge to prove they can grow digital ad revenue faster than we’re losing print ad revenue.  In 2015, our local leadership teams plan to generate higher total ad revenue in every one of our markets, reversing a longstanding trend of decline.

I asked Siegel by e-mail whether he was including national advertising in that calculation, and he said yes.  Read more

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Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 7.52.19 AM

Unfinished media business for 2015 — will non-broadcast news video become a force?

I am neither a fan nor a maker of sweeping future-of-media predictions. But I will lighten up this holiday season with a few thoughts on business trends of 2014 likely to gain momentum in 2015.

Top of my list — by a wide margin — is whether non-broadcast video can mount a serious business challenge to the news offerings of the networks, local stations and cable.

This one takes a little explaining. Leading national news outlets — The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Associated Press — have been offering video reports online for at least a decade.

CNN, the Today show and a host of other news/talk programs have well-trafficked digital sites.

And by now we all know of a little company named Vice, whose principal news product is longish first-person video reports, many from abroad. Read more

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Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.45.56 AM

New Pew study finds most people OK trading privacy for valued digital services

The Pew Research Center this morning released the last of seven studies on where digital life is headed in the next decade — this one focused on privacy concerns.

A survey of experts revealed split opinion on whether there will be a trusted privacy-rights infrastructure in place by 2025.  But there was strong consensus on both sides that for right now people accept a degree of tracking as a fair trade for getting services, typically for free, that they value and use daily.

What’s the implication for media, with many outlets betting the franchise these days that they can develop higher priced advertising as they harvest data on what you prefer and perhaps where you are?

That is not addressed directly in the report, Lee Rainie, Pew’s director of Pew’s Internet research and co-author of the study with Janna Anderson of Elon University, told me in a phone interview. Read more

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buzzfeedbuttons

Capital flows like water to media companies (of a certain kind)

December has started with a bang-up ten days financially for some leading American media companies.

Vox announced it has raised another $46.5 million in a new round of venture capital bringing its total valuation to $385 million. CEO Jim Bankoff, in a internal memo he made public, announced ambitious expansion plans for 2015.

Outbrain, a content recommendation/native advertising company, indicated it is tentatively planing an initial public offering early next year, with a target valuation of $1 billion.  (Outbrain, like its biggest competitor Taboola, is Israeli in origin but has moved headquarters to New York and plans to be listed on NASDAQ).

Meanwhile expanding Buzzfeed’s growth continues and its investor valuation stands at $850 million.  Editor Ben Smith was lecturing in Australia late last week as the site announced it has hired a star from Wired to be its Silicon Valley bureau chief and is forming a health and science desk. Read more

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partner-content

A look at 5 successful news partnerships

The Pew Research Center is out today with a new report seeking to define what differentiates effective and sustainable news partnerships from the many that launch with a splash and later quietly fizzle.

At Poynter Online, we regularly report on Pew’s prolific series of studies on digital behavior and news industry trends. There is a twist concerning this particular report, however. In collaboration with Pew Research editors, I wrote it.

So this post is mainly to say, if you are intrigued by the topic, take a look.

partner-site-300Our particular focus was to look at five case studies of collaborations that worked and had staying power. Each was, one way or another, many years in the making.

We were searching for business models and an X factor or two that can be of use as experiments in news partnering enjoy a resurgence. Read more

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