Business Journalism

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Newspaper industry lost 3,800 full-time editorial professionals in 2014

The American Society of News Editors annual newsroom census, released this morning, found that job losses accelerated in 2014, falling by more than 10 percent in a single year.

The net job loss of 3,800 brings the total number of news professionals to 32,900 — with additional losses clearly taking place so far in 2015.  That total is down just over 40 per cent from a pre-recession peak of 55,000 in 2006.

It’s the biggest single year drop since the industry was shedding more than 10,000 jobs in 2007 and 2008.  The comparable figure for 2013 was 1,300 jobs and 2,600 in 2012.

The survey began in 1978 to track progress in improving diversity in newspapers’ newsrooms and leadership ranks and continues to embrace that mission. Read more

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Print advertising slump bites digitally oriented Advance too

As Advance publications began dropping print frequency and betting its newspapers’ future on digital ad sales five years ago, part of the premise was that print advertising would only continue to decline — and by a lot, not a little.

Correct. But the industry’s particularly nasty level of print losses in the first half of 2015 have nipped financial results at Advance along with the rest. In his latest biannual letter to employees, Advance Local President Randy Siegel backed off his claim of six months ago that digital ad gains this year will surpass print losses.

He concedes in the letter that newspaper declines have been “steeper than we budgeted for.” Siegel told me in a phone interview that the goal for growing ad revenue overall remains and some of Advance’s 25 markets will experience the revenue crossover, but added “I can’t guarantee that we will get it done in all of them.”

In the letter, dated July 15, Siegel continues:

The proverbial “silver lining” here is that as more of our readers and advertisers transition to digital platforms and products, we are better positioned than ever to meet their diverse needs.

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McClatchy reports precipitous print ad declines again for second quarter

McClatchy, in the doghouse with investors for most of the year, reported another disappointing quarter today, eking out a profit of $98,000 on $262 million in revenues.

Despite growing digital ad revenues, holding circulation revenues even and reducing debt and interest payments compared to the same quarter a year ago, the results were dragged down by a 12.5 percent decline in total advertising revenues.

McClatchy is first among the public newspapers to report for the second quarter so drops of nearly the same magnitude seem likely at other companies.  As Gannett (which will report Wednesday) indicated as it spun off to a separate newspaper company a month ago, second quarter ad revenues have been weak there as well.

McClatchy said print advertising declines for the quarter were 16.3 percent. Read more

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5 quick thoughts on the sale of the Financial Times — a logical deal now that we see it

Most big-deal acquisitions, however unexpected, make sense once they are in place. And the sale of the Financial Times, though quickly consummated since first reports Sunday, was not all that surprising.

Here are my quick thoughts on why Japanese Nikkei won the trophy newspaper and what may happen next:

  • No longer a fit: As Pearson has become an education company with smaller news holdings, it needs to concentrate on its primary business. The FT group has some specialized financial products but nothing on the scale of Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters — or Nikkei for that matter. There are few synergies with the education unit.In retrospect, the sale may have been telegraphed two years ago when CEO John Fallon, who had been running the education unit’s international business, succeeded American-born Marjorie Scardino, whose roots were in publishing, particularly The Economist (in which Pearson retains a 50 percent interest for now).
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Intrigue in Utah — Will the Salt Lake Tribune be sold? Or even closed?

Jim Dabakis inside a downtown Salt Lake City coffee shop.  (AP 2011 file photo/Lynn DeBruin)

Jim Dabakis inside a downtown Salt Lake City coffee shop. (AP 2011 file photo/Lynn DeBruin)

Politician and blogger Jim Dabakis got his Utah constituents and others talking last week when he reported that the Salt Lake Tribune will soon be sold.

Dabakis also worried that such a sale could be a step toward an eventual closing or put the paper under the control of its Joint Operating Agreement partner and competitor, the Deseret News, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There are good reasons for media watchers nationally — not just Salt Lake City residents — to watch how the drama plays out:

  • The JOA is one of only five remaining agreements after the Charleston (WVa.) Gazette and Mail announced today that they are merging editorial operations and will print a single paper.
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How Grist has been able to flourish as a nonprofit news site

This is the fourth of four profiles of journalists at nonprofit news startups.

Chip Giller

Chip Giller

Chip Giller started Grist 16 years ago, when, he says, there was nothing in the world like it. His creation quickly caught on with its snarky environmental news stories, hipster storytelling, and an excellent advice column, “Ask Umbra.” Hundreds and then thousands of readers signed up for Grist’s email newsletter, and then finally, hundreds of thousands found its website: at the beginning of 2015, the site had more than 1.5 million unique visitors per month, according to Quantcast, and another half a million including Twitter and Facebook followers.

Giller wanted Grist to make a difference. He had been an environmentalist since he was a child and says he grew up to be a “very earnest” undergraduate student at Brown. Read more

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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sports columnist gives it all up to be his own boss

Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic seemed to have everything in place. He was front and center in a passionate sports town as the lead columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He had stability for his family with a nice salary and benefits.

Then last July, Kovacevic walked away from all of it to launch his own website. Even he jokes about the audacity of such a move in today’s precarious media environment.

“I had a momentary lapse of reason,” Kovacevic said.

Actually, Kovacevic, 48, had a vision that there was a better way for him to cover the Pittsburgh sports scene. Thus far, it is hard to argue with the results.
His site, DKonPittsburghSports, will hit its one-year anniversary with nearly 14,000 subscribers; he says they pay an average of $20 per year. Read more

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Michael Stoll persists in vision to create a public-radio-style newspaper despite lack of funds

This is the third of four profiles of journalists at nonprofit news startups.

Michael Stoll

Michael Stoll

Michael Stoll started his nonprofit, noncommercial investigative news venture from scratch in 2008. Stoll was an experienced reporter living in the Bay Area during the painful shrinking and transformations of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Examiner. He had reported for established newspapers and at the nonprofit, “Grade the News,” which was affiliated with Stanford University.

After teaching for two years at San Jose State University and the University of San Francisco, he “started gathering together some folks to talk about a public radio–style newspaper, to do some interesting things with an interesting model.”

His idea was to create a local news source with hard-hitting stories, which financially pinched local newspapers might no longer have the time and space to cover. Read more

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Perspective: Keep the faith and believe in newspapers

This essay is adapted from a speech by Tampa Bay Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash to the Metro Production Conference, a consortium representing 76 newspapers and their suppliers from five countries. The essay originally appeared in the Tampa Bay Times and is being republished with permission. 

Today being a Sunday, I offer my own confession of faith.

I believe in newspapers.

And by newspapers, I mean particularly those physical objects produced in huge quantity through some nearly magical process in the middle of the night and delivered before daybreak to millions of American homes and businesses where they are eagerly received.

I take nothing away from our websites, or our new apps for smartphones, or our electronic newsletters, or the videos we produce, or from the social media that connects people far and wide with the good work we are doing.

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Is good journalism enough to sustain an investigative nonprofit?

(Editor’s note: Corrections have been made to the original version of this story.) 

This is the second of four profiles of journalists at nonprofit news startups.

Beth Daley

Beth Daley

Beth Daley, a former reporter for the Boston Globe, joined the New England Center for Investigative Journalism (NECIR), in November 2013. After 20 years at the Globe, she says, she was looking for a change. After considering going freelance, she realized she would end up scrambling for money or having to find other means to support herself with a living wage.

She signed on with the non-profit investigative journalism organization, a partnership with WGBH and Boston University launched by veteran investigative journalists Joe Bergantino, Maggie Mulvihill and Tom Fiedler in 2009 at BU. More than 100 nonprofit journalism sites have since been established, like NECIR, “all racing and experimenting with sustainability,” Daley says. Read more

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