Business Journalism

mcclatchey

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.

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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Gannett

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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nonprof

Knight Foundation finds nonprofit sites’ revenue rising but sustainability elusive

knight-nonprofitsThe Knight Foundation finds progress in the nonprofit news sector in its latest report, released today, with average revenues up 73 percent in two years at 20 outlets it has been tracking.

“But the issues are not going away,” Jon Sotsky, Knight’s director for strategy and assessment, said in a phone interview. “They’re still over dependent on foundation grants,” with many potentially in trouble if key grants are not renewed or replaced.

Today’s report, third in a series, includes a bonus — a comprehensive study of Texas Tribune, a leader among regional sites in developing diverse revenue streams which built to a $7 million annual budget in five years.

On the positive side of the ledger, the report finds:

  • Earned income increased from 18 to 23 percent of revenues over the two years.
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little

Caroline Little is stepping down as CEO and President of Newspaper Association of America

littleCaroline LIttle will be leaving her job as president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America at the end of August, NAA announced this afternoon.

She will have been head of the industry trade association for just over four years when she departs.

Little is a lawyer and served as publisher/CEO of Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive and then as CEO of the Guardian’s North America operations before joining NAA in 2011. Her background as a digital executive figured in her being hired to succeed John Sturm who served 16 years and was a lawyer and experienced lobbyist.

I reached Little by phone, and asked what she expects to do next. “I don’t really have any future plans right now,” she replied, except moving to Sante Fe, “where I have a husband, a child and a dog — in that order.”

As industry’s revenues have fallen, NAA has sharply downsized.   Read more

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nyt-facebook-250

Look to the past for lessons on the news industry showdown with Facebook

News and commentary this week that leading news organizations are close to striking a deal to publish directly to Facebook’s platform reminds me, and others, of an industry faceoff six years ago with Google.

As you may recall, Rupert Murdoch had denounced Google for “stealing” content in its news summaries.  William Dean Singleton, chairman of MediaNews and the Associated Press board, threatened a war to protect newspapers’ copyright at AP’s and NAA’s 2009 conferences in San Diego. Google’s Eric Schmidt spoke to the NAA and faced a number of hostile questions.

We all know how that turned out.  Google won.  They continue publishing Google news summaries and referring traffic via search. Except to the AP itself, Google generally hasn’t paid for news it borrows. An AP-led effort to organize a licensing collective (NewsRight), never found its legs.  Read more

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naa-logo

At NAA’s Nashville extravaganza, tough issues surface through the glitz

naa-logo As hard times for revenue continue,
I went to the Newspaper Association of America’s annual mediaXchange conference looking for a read on where the industry’s head is at.

I thought I found the sense of this meeting, the seventh I’ve attended, at a session last Monday on social media.  It was held in a stuffy room, a bit too small, hard to enter and exit.  Nonetheless the likes of Washington Post president Stephen Hills, New York Times Co, Vice Chairman Michael Golden and Boston Globe owner John Henry were elbowing their way into the standing room only crowd.

Which to me says — though don’t look for this to be a NAA conference theme line — “we have a lot to learn.”

For their trouble, the publishers got some fairly generic social media basics — “make a true brand of your stars,” “get conversational,” “consider video.”  The Facebook representative conceded “working with us is not the easiest” but promised free analytic tools for cooperating organizations.  Read more

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doctor-youtube

Ken Doctor: News sites looking for new readers focus on millennials, mobile, and social

Media analyst Ken Doctor was at Poynter this week to speak to our international media tour group and do a webinar. Doctor, who writes for his own Newsonomics site as well as Capital New York and Nieman Lab, focused on building digital audience and ties to communities. I asked him to elaborate on a comment he made to the tour group that now we may be entering a period of several years in which digital audiences are up for grabs:

I also asked for Doctor’s thoughts on the many changes in newspaper ownership with spin-off public companies, private venture funds and local billionaires among the new owners. What are the implications for journalists and the future of journalism?

For more, watch Ken Doctor’s Poynter NewsU Webinar on Building Strong, Profitable Relationships with Digital Audiences. Read more

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Gigaom’s Mathew Ingram: “I don’t think anyone expected this”

At 5:57 Pacific Standard Time yesterday evening, the managers of Gigaom posted one last news story: it was shutting down.

Gigaom, the business and technology news site that was widely regarded as one of the world’s most crucial sources of industry news, shocked that very industry by shutting down last evening, laying off all of its employees, and offering nothing more than a cryptic item on its Web site: “Gigaom recently became unable to pay its creditors in full at this time. As a result, the company is working with its creditors that have rights to all of the company’s assets as their collateral. All operations have ceased.”

Phone calls to the company’s West Coast office were met with this equally mysterious notice: “Hello. We are not available now. Read more

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kendoctor150

Ken Doctor: Newspaper companies should focus on news apps

kendoctor150Ken Doctor, media analyst and President at Newsonomics recommends that publishers continue to develop reader revenue while print advertising continues to fade. He spoke during a session at the Media Innovation Tour seminar held at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg on March 9.

Reader revenue is the new source of revenue for most newspaper companies, but the boost from paywalls has now hit a bump. Newsrooms, he said, now need to “earn their way back to the community.”

The particular focus should be on the number of loyal customers who are paying for subscriptions or news apps for access, Doctor said.  The future of news business lies in “relationships with community,” so news organizations should focus their attention converting their readership from “users – to readers – to subscribers – to members.”

That requires reconnecting with the community and becoming part of their news. Read more

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Weak Tribune Publishing and Scripps earnings make the case for spinning off newspapers

Tribune Publishing and E.W. Scripps this morning reported disappointing fourth quarter revenues from newspaper operations, matching the pattern established by other public companies.

At the same time, the results suggested some of the logic behind divorcing newspapers from broadcast, as Tribune Publishing did seven months ago and Scripps plans for this April.

tribune-logo-300Continuing the tone he struck in the company’s first earnings conference call with analysts, CEO Jack Griffin said “we’re playing catch-up” on a number of key initiatives to strengthen the business.

For instance, Tribune Publishing as a Tribune division had made only a minimal effort to register print subscribers as digital users, he said.  Now 659,000 of those are counted as paying for digital access and Tribune Publishing has more than 60,000 digital-only paid subscribers. Read more

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