Philly contract deal: company hikes health payments, gets concessions on layoffs and raises

A tentative contract for Philadelphia’s major newspapers includes greater healthcare contributions by management but concessions on whether it must heed traditional seniority rules when it comes to layoffs.

The deal does not include any raise in basic wages. It was bargained shortly before a Saturday deadline. Details were discussed in several sessions with Newspaper Guild members on Monday.

In all, about 500 Guild members are covered by two separate contracts: one covering workers at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, while the other covers about 50 people at

The two most heated issues were health care contributions and use of seniority in layoffs.

With layoffs, management will be able to exempt certain individuals “deemed to be essential to the company’s operations” from seniority-driven layoffs. Read more


What journalists should know about the Greek banking crisis

Greece’s debt crisis most likely touched your retirement and investment accounts today as markets tumble on news that Greece will likely default on a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Greek banks are closed and the country of 11 million people has become a global focal point, again.

What’s the Problem?

Greece has a big payment due Tuesday. The country owes the IMF 1.54 billion euros. The fear, of course, is that Greece will default on the loan. The payment is due at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Tuesday. Greece asked for an extension, and Eurozone finance ministers said no, they also limited future emergency funding. The European Commission said Monday it has no plans to issue new reforms for Greece. The standoff is set. Read more


New day for Gannett newspapers — they’re on their own

The 19,600 employees of Gannett newspapers coming to work Monday will be working for a new company — untethered from growing and prosperous television stations and digital ventures.

Retaining the Gannett name, the spin off company has well defined plans for digital transformation and for expansion by acquisition.  Its reception by Wall Street is less certain, but it is sweetening the case by promising a substantial dividend — 64 cents on shares trading around $15.

Gannett executives telegraphed the acquisition strategy in the company’s most recent earnings call and has since bought 11 titles in Texas and New Mexico, in which it already had a partial stake, from Digital First Media.

More is on the way, the company said in a presentation to investors last Monday.   Read more

Steven Malkowich

The American media storm: Why a family sold its newspaper after 56 years

To fully grasp the tumult in American media, you need just look at the video of a proud man in front of a basement printing press that’s been his community’s lifeblood.

“Google, YouTube and Facebook have taken the heart out of all the advertising, and not just the national advertising,” says Marty Weybret, who exited Monday as longtime publisher of the family-owned Lodi News-Sentinel in California’s Central Valley.

How will quality local news really survive, wonders a man whose family owned the paper since 1959, absent people doing something they are currently disinclined to do: pay for it?

His own ambiguity about what’s ahead prompted him to just sell the 10,600-circulation daily (actually five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday) founded in 1881 and bought in 1959 by his father, Fred, he said. Read more


Worldwide newspaper circulation revenues pass advertising for the first time

Last year circulation revenues inched ahead of advertising for the world’s newspapers, according to a report out today from the trade group WAN-IFRA.

For 2014, circulation generated $92 billion compared to $87 billion for advertising, according to a world press trends survey released as WAN-IFRA begins its annual World Congress meeting in Washington.

“The basic assumption of the news business model — the subsidy that advertisers have long provided to news content — is gone…,” Larry Kilman, secretary-general of WAN-IFRA, commented in a release. “This is a seismic shift from a strong business-to-business emphasis – publishers to advertisers – to a growing business-to-consumer emphasis, publishers to audiences.”

The circulation-ad split varies around the world.  Some European and Asian papers, with high single-copy prices and a reliance on newsstand sales, have been 50-50 for years. Read more

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Scary Mary (Meeker) and that fallacious chart are back again

I was elsewhere earlier this week when Internet savant Mary Meeker released her gargantuan annual slide deck on big-picture digital trends.  I was not surprised that it received respectful coverage, as is warranted, nor, alas, that her updated chart implying imminent doom for print got special attention.

That’s too bad.  Of the 197 slides, this isn’t one of her best and has a pair of flaws that make it misleadingly alarmist.

If you’ve missed the chart, a staple in her presentation for a decade, it compares time spent on various platforms with ad spend.  For 2014, Meeker found print only gets 4 percent of attention but 19 percent of ad spend. She calls that “over-indexing.”

Internet spend has moved up quickly the last few years, but mobile now accounts for 24 percent of time spent and only 8 percent of ad spend.  Read more

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C-Span teaming with the networks to cover presidential campaign

C-span's red bus

C-span’s red bus

C-SPAN is teaming with the major news networks to share personnel and other costs while covering even more events in real time along the campaign trail.

Ted Johnson, a political reporter for Variety, walked up the steps of the iconic bright red C-SPAN school bus parked on the floor of the national cable TV convention. He just wanted to say hi.

And why not? After all, if you’re a political journalist, the same just-the-facts network that’s long inspired “Saturday Night Live” skits is very much a key part of your reporting arsenal.

Now, financial necessity appears to be the mother of C-SPAN-bred invention, all probably to the enhanced benefit of reporters and politics junkies gearing up for the 2016 presidential campaign.

And it may be particularly true for the large number of reporters whose outlets can’t afford to have them on the road for appreciable, if even any, time due to budget cuts. Read more


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


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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