Gannett

Gannett

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

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Gannett acquires 11 Digital First Media properties

StreetInsider | York Daily Record

Newspaper giant Gannett today announced it was acquiring 11 properties from Digital First Media, including the El Paso Times, The Alamogordo (New Mexico) Daily News and the York (Pennsylvania) Daily Record.

The acquisitions come shortly before before Gannett splits into two companies — TEGNA, which will retain the company’s broadcast properties, and Gannett, a spinoff publishing division.

The acquisition of the Digital First Media properties is in line with thinking articulated by Ken Doctor that the media company was planning to sell off its assets in piecemeal fashion after a reported deal with equity firm Apollo Global Management failed to materialize. He also reported that Gannett would acquire papers in Pennsylvania and New Mexico.

Robert Dickey, soon-to-be CEO of Gannett’s publishing company, hailed the acquisitions in a statement:

We are very pleased to welcome these well-respected media organizations to U.S.

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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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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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5 Ways McClatchy is a model for a new breed of stand-alone newspaper companies

McClatchy has been a steady presence in the 15 years I’ve been writing about media business with a commitment to serious journalism even while shrinking newsrooms, aggressive digital expansion and continuity of leadership.

Looking at the company’s fourth quarter results Wednesday and listening to CEO Pat Talamantes describe 2015 plans, it occurred to me that McClatchy could now also be a bell-cow for the new generation of spun-off, newspaper only companies.  That group includes Tribune Publishing, early into life on its own after a split from parent Tribune late last year. Later in 2015 Gannett’s publishing division and the merged publishing operations of Journal Communications and Scripps will go that route too.

Here are five ways, McClatchy may be providing a preview:

  1. Revenue replacement race: Like other companies reporting in recent weeks, McClatchy had even worse print advertising results than expected, could not make them up with other mostly digital ventures and thus continues to shrink. 
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Gannett, New York Times report soft publishing revenues again

Gannett and the New York Times Co. closed the books on 2014 with mixed results in earnings reports this morning.

For Gannett, strong growth in broadcast and its digital businesses more than offset revenue declines in both circulation and advertising at its newspapers, which will be spun-off into a separate company later this year.

At the New York Times Co., whose only business is its flagship paper and its digital and international extensions, continued growth in circulation revenues offset a small decline in advertising making for overall revenue  growth of 0.7 percent for the year.

Net income fell to $30.3 million, about half the profit in 2013, on revenues of $1.59 billion. That is a margin of roughly 2 percent. CEO Mark Thompson said in a press release the company chose investments in digital expansion over maximizing profit but will “bear down on costs” in 2015 to improve results. Read more

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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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‘Dark social’ is mostly Facebook

Good morning. The weekend awaits. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. “Dark social” = Facebook

    For years, publishers couldn't identify the source of a hunk of their traffic. Chartbeat this week "flipped a switch on its real-time dashboard to place that traffic in its proper bucket"; “We saw mobile Facebook traffic increase by about 40% on sites with big Facebook presences,” its chief data scientist, Josh Schwartz, said. (Marketing Land) | "The only question is how much Facebook traffic you’re not counting," Alexis Madrigal writes. (Fusion) | "Dark social comprises only a small percent of overall desktop traffic, but commands a fairly significant chunk of mobile traffic." (Chartbeat) | "That kind of dependence on a single site raises all kinds of issues." (Gigaom)

  2. J-school student arrested in NYC Garner protests

    City University of New York grad student Desiree Mathurin reported on a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge Wednesday night and got popped with 82 others.

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Career Beat: Annie-Rose Strasser named deputy managing editor at BuzzFeed News

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Annie-Rose Strasser will be deputy managing editor at BuzzFeed News. She is deputy managing editor at ThinkProgress (@ARStrasser)
  • Christy Moreno is now news director at KUSA in Denver. Previously, she was news director for WBIR in Knoxville. Patti Dennis is vice president of talent development at Gannett. Previously, she was news director at KUSA in Denver. Talia Naquin is now dayside executive producer for WSMV in Nashville, Tennessee. She has been a news director in Wichita Falls, Texas. (Rick Gevers)
  • Allie Kline is now chief marketing officer at AOL. Previously, she was chief managing officer of platforms there. (AOL)
  • Fergus Bell will be head of newsroom partnerships and innovation at Social Asset Management Inc.
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Career Beat: Nicco Mele is now associate publisher at The Los Angeles Times

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Nicco Mele is now deputy publisher at The Los Angeles Times. He is the co-founder of consulting firm Echo & Co. (The Los Angeles Times)
  • Amanda Smith is now associate publisher at T Magazine. Previously, she was advertising director there. (The New York Times)
  • Alison Engel is now vice president of finance at Gannett. Previously, she was chief financial officer of A. H. Belo Corporation. (Gannett)
  • Alan Price is now CEO of Vevo. Previously, he was chief financial officer there. (TechCrunch)
  • Darren Waters is now social media editor at The Press Association. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of Microsoft UK. (The Guardian)

Job of the day: The Boston Globe is looking for a sports editor. Read more

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