Sun-Times confirms sale of suburban papers to Tribune

Chicago Sun-Times | Tribune Publishing

Chicago Sun-Times parent Wrapports LLC will sell 38 suburban newspapers — six dailies and 32 weeklies — to Tribune Publishing, confirming a report by Robert Feder earlier this month.

Wrapports boss Michael Ferro says the move out of the burbs will allow the company to “focus on our international digital strategy.” Wrapports announced earlier this week that it was launching a national network of sites that will ““offer content in a manner similar to websites such as Deadspin and Buzzfeed.”

Employees at the suburban papers will become Tribune Publishing employees at some point and will leave the Sun-Times’ newsroom. The Sun-Times said in 2012 it would close its suburban offices and move most employees into Chicago digs. Terms of the deal aren’t public yet, according to a Wrapports press release. Bob Fleck will be publisher and GM of the papers, Tribune Publishing says in a press release.

The Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune Media Group have also reached an agreement for CTMG to keep printing the Sun-Times.

Since splitting from the rest of Tribune’s properties, Tribune Publishing has pursued a strategy of increasing its footprint in markets where it has large dailies. In Maryland it’s purchased the Baltimore City Paper and two other papers; in Connecticut it has purchased 15 weeklies once published by Reminder Media. Read more

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AP: Don’t use ‘horse race’ and other election cliches

Associated Press

The Associated Press published a mid-term election style guide on Friday, and it includes a list of election cliches with suggested alternatives.

For instance, instead of messaging, use “candidate’s pitch to voters.” Instead of horse race, use “a closely contested political contest.” And instead of war chest or coffers use “campaign bank account or stockpile of money.”

There are more cliches to avoid, plus style tips on common terms you may be using next week. Conservative and liberal, for instance, don’t get capped unless you’re talking about a formal name.

Here are a few things we’ve done on cliches at Poynter:

Why newspaper photo cliches make for great Tumblrs

And now for some really bad ledes

Avoid Cliches Like the Plague Read more

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NYT ends partnership with Texas Tribune

mediawiremorningHappy Halloween! Here are 10 scaaaaary media stories.

  1. NYT ends partnership with Texas Tribune

    The Times told the news nonprofit that at the end of this year it will no longer produce a two-page section for the paper's Texas edition. "We hate to see the whole thing come to an end, but it's like that line from The Godfather: It’s business, not personal," Trib EIC Evan Smith writes. (Texas Tribune) | Interesting inversion: The Dallas Morning News' Sunday edition will include an insert produced by the New York Times. (NYTCo) | Related: CEO Mark Thompson wants the Times to be “unashamedly experimental.” (Nieman Lab) | 9 takeways from the New York Times Co. 3rd quarter earnings call (Poynter) | Only slightly related to that last related item: Rick Edmonds notes that Denise Warren is the third woman Times exec to leave in the past three years; Erik Wemple reported yesterday that the last woman on The Washington Post's masthead is leaving. (WP)

  2. So it should be an interesting day at First Look Media

    Four reporters at First Look's The Intercept -- Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and John Cook -- published an unsparing examination of why Matt Taibbi left the company. "Those conflicts were rooted in a larger and more fundamental culture clash that has plagued the project from the start: A collision between the First Look executives, who by and large come from a highly structured Silicon Valley corporate environment, and the fiercely independent journalists who view corporate cultures and management-speak with disdain," they write. (The Intercept) | "With the publishing of their post, Greenwald et al confirm some of the worst fears about the company and contradict others. They claim that Omidyar has not interfered with the editorial work of journalists, but was clearly unprepared for the cultural differences between executives and rabble-rousing journalists." (Mashable) | "if Hunter S. Thompson was still alive, FL would have hired him to turn him into a middle manager" (@jbenton) | "From all the details of Taibbi’s allegedly terrible management practices and the details of First Look’s struggles against the IRON FIST of First Look Media emerges a picture of utter ungovernability and an unwillingness to concede that the person bankrolling a venture might just have a say in how things get done." (WP)

  3. The odds of new news orgs surviving

    BuzzFeed: "High." Vice: "Medium-hiiiiigh." Vox "is also doing better traffic and growing more quickly than Gawker, and is extremely popular with 'Millennials.' Euthanize Vox immediately." (Gawker)

  4. Arkansans don't think much of journalists

    "Of those polled, only 14 percent believe that journalists have high or very high standards. Another 39 percent would rate the honesty and ethical standards of journalists as average, and 36 percent responded with low or very low. The remainder, about 12 percent, did not know or refused to answer." (University of Arkansas)

  5. Another Jian Ghomeshi story

    "I feel that while it is exceedingly difficult to publicly put your name forward and open yourself up to all of the accompanying criticism, if you are in the position that you can do so without fearing the ramifications in terms of your family, marriage, personal or professional trauma, then you should do it," Reva Seth writes. (HuffPost)

  6. The Newspaper Guild is not especially cool with the FBI right now

    In an emailed statement, it says it's "disgusted and outraged by the revelation this week that the FBI posed as The Associated Press in planting an online story to catch a teenage bomb threat suspect in 2007. ... Any hint that a journalist or news organization is aiding law enforcement damages their reputation as an objective, trustworthy source of news." | U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy sent a letter to the attorney general expressing concern about the sting. (The Seattle Times) | Sort-of related: Akron Beacon Journal asks campaign to stop using doctored front page in ads. (Jim Romenesko)

  7. Spain passses aggregation tax

    New laws will "allow news publishers to charge aggregators each time they display news content in search results." (AP) | Google statement: "We are disappointed with the new law because we believe that services like Google News help publishers bring traffic to their sites." (THR)

  8. Depressing British media news roundup

    The Telegraph lays off 55 staffers. (The Business of Fashion) | The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News will combine operations, leading to a loss of 45 jobs. (The Guardian) | The Hull Daily Mail apologizes for wrongly identifying a man as a sex offender. (Hold the Front Page)

  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare

    A spoooooooky front from the Asbury Park Press! (Courtesy the Newseum)

    app-10312014

     

  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Shane Harris will be an intelligence and national security reporter at The Daily Beast. He's a senior writer at Foreign Policy. (The Huffington Post) | Azmat Khan will be an investigative reporter at BuzzFeed. She's a senior digital producer at Al Jazeera America. (Azmat Khan) | Usha Chaudhary will be chief financial officer at Pew Charitable Trusts. She's the chief financial officer at The Washington Post. (The Washingoton Post) | Eli Lake will be a columnist at Bloomberg View. He’s a national security correspondent at The Daily Beast. Josh Rogin will be a columnist at Bloomberg View. He’s a senior correspondent at The Daily Beast. (Politico) | Krista Larson is West Africa bureau chief for The Associated Press. Previously, she was a correspondent there. (AP) | Nona Willis Aronowitz is an editor at TPM. Previously, she was an education and poverty reporter at NBC News Digital. (TPM) | Om Malik is looking for a designer. Get your résumés in! (Om Malik) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Corrections? Tips? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here. Read more

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Today in Media History: Remembering one of the 20th century’s great interviewers and listeners, Studs Terkel

On October 31, 2008, the media reported on the death of author and broadcaster Studs Terkel, one of the great interviewers and listeners of 20th century America.

Here is a story from the Associated Press:

“Louis Terkel arrived here as a child from New York City and in Chicago found not only a new name but a place that perfectly matched — in its energy, its swagger, its charms, its heart — his own personality. They made a perfect and enduring pair.

Author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol Louis ‘Studs’ Terkel died Friday afternoon in his home on the North Side. At his bedside was a copy of his latest book, ‘P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening,’ scheduled for release this month. He was 96 years old.

‘Studs Terkel was part of a great Chicago literary tradition that stretched from Theodore Dreiser to Richard Wright to Nelson Algren to Mike Royko,’ Mayor Richard M. Daley said Friday. ‘In his many books, Studs captured the eloquence of the common men and women whose hard work and strong values built the America we enjoy today. He was also an excellent interviewer, and his WFMT radio show was an important part of Chicago’s cultural landscape for more than 40 years.’”

– “Studs Terkel dies
Chicago Tribune, October 31, 2008

In 2001 C-SPAN interviewed Studs Terkel for its Book TV channel.

(Click here to watch the 2009 documentary film, “Studs Terkel: Listening To America”)

“Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the voluble host of a popular radio show in Chicago, died Friday at his home there. He was 96.

….In his oral histories, which he called guerrilla journalism, Mr. Terkel relied on his enthusiastic but gentle interviewing style to elicit, in rich detail, the experiences and thoughts of his fellow citizens. Over the decades, he developed a continuous narrative of great historic moments sounded by an American chorus in the native vernacular.

….Mr. Terkel succeeded as an interviewer in part because he believed most people had something to say worth hearing. ‘The average American has an indigenous intelligence, a native wit,’ he said. ‘It’s only a question of piquing that intelligence.’”

— “Studs Terkel, Listener to Americans, Dies at 96
New York Times, October 31, 2008

The following StoryCorps video is called, “The Human Voice.”

“The great oral historian Studs Terkel was an inspiration to StoryCorps, and he was also an early participant in the project. In this animated short, he speaks out on what has been lost in modern life and where he sees hope for our future.”

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Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

Tonawanda News to fold in January

The Buffalo News | The Tonawanda News

Twenty employees at the Tonawanda News will lose their jobs in January after the paper closes, the Buffalo News reported Thursday.

The Tonawanda News, a 134-year-old newspaper serving north suburban Buffalo, is closing after revenue from advertising and circulation failed to keep pace with expenses, the paper reports.

The paper belongs to the Greater Niagara Newspapers group, which includes two other papers in the region: the Niagara Gazette and the Lockport Union-Sun and Journal, according to The Tonawanda News. Neither paper is closing. Read more

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Only 1 in 5 college newspapers updates its website daily

College Media Matters | Student Media Map

Just 21 percent of student newspapers at public, four-year universities update their websites five days a week, according to an interactive tool launched Thursday.

Student Media Map, a project by University of Texas senior Bobby Blanchard, compares rates of online publishing at student newspapers nationwide, Dan Reimold writes for College Media Matters.

The map works by mining RSS feeds at 485 student newspapers throughout the United States and representing each with a colored dot based on their publishing frequency. A green dot means the site is updated at least five times per week, purple means the site is updated less frequently and red indicates the university does not have a newspaper. Private universities and some colleges in New York are missing from the map.

The project shows that publishing frequency tends to skew in favor of larger schools — only 4 percent of newspapers at universities with fewer than 10,000 students enrolled published content five-days a week, compared to 81 percent of student newspapers at universities with between 40,000 and 50,000 students.

The idea for the project came from a conversation that arose when the student newspaper at The University of Texas, The Daily Texan, was faced with reductions to its print frequency, Blanchard told Reimold. The newspaper vowed to maintain a steady flow of copy to its website, which made Blanchard wonder: how many papers did the same?

You can check the map out for yourself here. Read more

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9 takeways from the New York Times Co. 3rd quarter earnings call

The New York Times building in this 2009 file photo. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The New York Times building in this 2009 file photo. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The New York Times Co. joined McClatchy yesterday in booking a rare operating loss for the third quarter, $9 million or about 2.5 percent on revenues of $364.7 million.

But the many moving parts of the Times digital transformation effort had a number of positives mixed in as well. Here are nine takeaways:

  1. About that loss. It was driven by high costs associated with staff reductions ($20 million) and investment in new products. The first will be a one-time blip. But the Times will be launching and relaunching new digital versions for some time to come. Each is expensive to develop and market, and significant new revenues may be slow in coming.
  2. Equilibrium in ad and circulation revenues. A 17 percent year-to-year gain in digital advertising for the quarter roughly offset a 5 percent decline in print. Similarly revenue from a net gain of 44,000 digital-only subscribers offset revenue losses for print and print-digital subscriptions. That’s an achievement. On the ad side, most of the industry is not yet growing digital and other revenue fast enough to cover print ad losses — and Times execs, in a conference call with analysts, concede that they don’t expect to do so again in the fourth quarter.
  3. Room to grow digital audience. The 44,000 quarter-to-quarter gain, the largest the company has recorded in several years, CEO Mark Thompson said, came mainly from new international customers and the “consumer education” sector (i.e. discounted subs to students). Thompson said that with improved marketing abroad he expects to continue growing that group of subscribers.
  4. Too expensive? The Times has raised print subscription prices this year, but the higher revenue per customer, chief financial officer James Follo said, was “outweighed by volume declines.” Daily print circulation was off 5.2 percent year-to-year and Sunday 3.2 percent. With the cost of a seven-day print subscription outside the New York metro area inching close to $1,000 a year, the Times may find renewals, new subscriptions (and newsstand copies) a tougher sell — especially as a range of much cheaper digital options are available.
  5. About those executive changes. Thompson had little to add to the announcement earlier this week that 26-year veteran Denise Warren was leaving the company after her chief digital officer job was split in two. But he did drop a hint, saying the Times would be looking for “an injection of specialized digital expertise.” Warren was an experienced and talented generalist who moved from overseeing advertising to the successful completion of the Times paywall strategy. But deeper digital roots may be needed in the executive suite for the next round of growth.
  6. Women in leadership. Warren’s is the third high-level executive departure in three years, following the firings of Thompson’s predecessor as CEO, Janet Robinson in December 2011, and Executive Editor Jill Abramson this May. The Times did add a woman in its top advertising job, hiring Meredith Kopit Levien away from Forbes in July 2013.
  7. Mobile advertising progress. Kopit Levien said mobile advertising is finally gaining some traction, accounting for about 10 percent of digital ad revenue. On the other hand it lags mobile audience which now accounts for more than 50 percent of the digital visits to Times’ sites and apps.
  8. Newsroom hiring. Thompson said he expected a modest wave of hiring following the well-publicized downsizing by 100 jobs. But as at many publications, the newly hired will have different job duties like audience development rather than traditional reporting and editing roles.
  9. Lower revenue per customer. Several questions and answers in the earnings conference call focused on so-called ARPU, jargon for average revenue per user (or unit). With the changing product mix, ARPU is falling at the Times, though Follo said by only about 5 percent year-to-year.

That spotlights a huge financial challenge for the industry. As business moves down the price chain (both ads and circulation) from print to desktop/laptop to smartphone, a company can end up running fast just to stay even in revenues. And that’s likely to persist for years not just quarters.

New York Times shares traded down about 5 percent at market close. Read more

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Report: More than a dozen walk from Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Business Courier

Cincinnati Enquirer Managing Editor Laura Trujillo is leaving the newspaper rather than stick around for the Gannett-owned title’s reorganization, Chris Wetterich reports for the Cincinnati Business Courier.

More than a dozen people in the newsroom are also departing, Wetterich reports: “Veteran employees told the Courier they are heading for the door because they would rather take a buyout package than go through another round of upheaval and the indignity of reapplying for jobs at a company they’ve worked at for decades.”

Mark Curnutte, Bill Koch, John Erardi, Sheila McLaughlin and Jessica Brown are among those leaving, as are three photographers, Wetterich reports. “Nearly all of the Enquirer’s 11 copy editing positions are being eliminated, although staffers in that department could apply for the new jobs,” he writes. “Copy editing and design of the newspaper will be done at a regional Gannett site.”

Editors will be known as “strategists” in the new Enquirer newsroom, Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn tells Wetterich. An email from Washburn to staffers says the Enquirer has hired several strategists already, as well as a daily news coach (Meghan Wesley) and a visuals coach (Michael McCarter).

Gannett newspapers all over the country are rolling out versions of a “newsroom of the future,” a massive structural change that requires staffers who want to stay to reapply for mostly new jobs. Steve Cavendish reported for Nashville Scene last week that the Gannett-owned Tennessean has brought in reporters from corporate siblings to help it put out the paper during the transition. Read more

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5 DIY journalism costumes for 2014

For Halloween this year, you could be a reporter (notebook, phone, side eye for your younger colleagues) or a reporter who could possibly get laid off (no costume necessary), or a reporter who has been laid off (just add flask.) Or you could go with one of these — here are five journalism costume ideas that you can do yourself with things you can mostly pilfer from the newsroom.

– Comment troll: This idea comes from Carlie Kollath Wells at NOLA.com. Paint yourself green and bring along that tablet. If you’re really in character, you’ll have something to say about everything everyone around you says.

Troll of stones

– Tweetstorm: This is either when someone sends out a ton of tweets one right after the other, like Twitter diarrhea, or when you’re bombarded by tweets after doing something other Twitterers don’t like. Either way, print off a ton of tweets and tape them all over yourself and you’re done. You can bring an umbrella or galoshes if you want to be cute.

Post-it man

– Gas mask: Journalists have needed these in several places this year, including Ferguson, Missouri and Hong Kong. Plus, if you choose this option, you’ll be ready for the next big story.

(Photo by Kristen Hare)

(Photo by Kristen Hare)

– Facebook algorithm: Since no one really understands these, you can do whatever you want here.

Man standing with a question mark board

– Twitter verified symbol: Get a white shirt, print out a Twitter verified symbol and paste it on that white shirt. Everyone will know you’re really you. Partner costume idea: My colleague Ben Mullin also recommends a hashtag as a costume idea, which is basically just cutting out # in cardboard, paint it black and stick your head through the middle. If that’s not helpful, there are real tutorials on this one.

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Tim Cook files clean copy, Businessweek editor says

Bloomberg TV

Apple’s CEO acknowledged in a Bloomberg Businessweek essay today that he’s gay. How’d that article end up in Businessweek?

“The backstory is pretty simple,” Businessweek Editor Josh Tyrangiel says in an interview with Tom Keene. “He called and asked if he could come out.”

Tyrangiel says Cook’s draft “was crisp and clear, and frankly I hope he is available for more assignments going forward. He was very easy to work with on this.”

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