Articles about "Gannett"


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Yet another NYT digital tier?

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Another NYT subscription tier? Lucia Moses reports: “According to a survey sent to readers this week, the new offering would give users 30 articles a month for $8, over 45 percent lower than the current cheapest offering.” (Digiday) | The Times has also floated the prospect of a shorter print edition in a survey, Joe Pompeo reported last week. (Capital) | The launch of its most recent digital products “has been anything but smooth.” (Poynter) | Sam Kirkland shows you how to save money on your NYT sub. (Poynter)
  2. Edward Snowden to stay longer in Russia: He got a three-year residence permit, his lawyer says. He’ll be able to travel abroad. (RT)
  3. Crowdfunding campaign to buy Murdoch U.K. papers: A group called Let’s Own the News hopes to raise £100 million (about $168 million) to buy the Times of London and The Sunday Times. “And why should Murdoch sell?” Roy Greenslade asks. “Evidently, because he would like to take a step forward for our democracy and to rejuvenate his public image after the phone hacking scandal.” (The Guardian) | Meanwhile, back on Earth: Speaking in a conference call about 21st Century Fox’s fourth quarter results, honcho Rupert Murdoch said, “we have no plans to go out on the acquisition trail.” (Associated Press) | Fox’s revenue was up 17 percent in the quarter. (21st Century Fox) | Flashback: Remember the crowdfunding campaign to buy Tribune’s newspapers so the Koch brothers couldn’t? (Bloomberg)
  4. Gannett’s newest “newsroom of the future”: “Reporters will always gripe about their editors, but if you suggest to almost any of them that they are better off without one, they will laugh at you,” Steve Cavendish writes about the planned reductions coming to The Tennessean, which will eliminate some middle managers. (Nashville Scene) | Gannett last launched a “newsroom of the future” in 2006. (Poynter/Romenesko) | The other Gannett “beta” newsrooms planning to institute changes: The Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press, The Greenville (South Carolina) News, The Pensacola (Florida) News Journal, The Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen-Times. (Poynter)
  5. ABC, NBC swap executives: “Rachel Maddow Show” executive producer Bill Wolff will become executive producer of ABC’s “The View.” “In return for NBC letting Wolff break his current long-term deal with the Peacock Network,” Don Kaplan writes, “ABC has agreed to free ESPN’s top programmer, Jamie Horowitz, who now can join NBC as general manager of ‘Today.’” (NYDN)
  6. Jim Brady’s Philly site gets a new name: Au revoir, Brother.ly. Hello Billy Penn. (Capital) | Brady: “Some people asked whether the site was going to be only for ‘bros,’ and whether it would cover women as well. Honestly, we didn’t worry too much about that.” (Billy Penn) | “Our website sounds too manly. I KNOW! LET’S NAME IT AFTER A MAN INSTEAD!” (@tylrfishr)
  7. Minority journalism grads have a harder time finding jobs: The University of Georgia’s annual study of journalism and mass comm grads showed journalists of color were less likely than whites to find a job in their chosen field, Richard Prince reports. (Maynard Institute) | “In addition to a slight tightening of the job market, the survey shows that salaries and benefits have also stagnated.” (Pew) | Median starting salaries at consumer magazines fell sharply from last year’s survey. (Poynter) | “Reality: It’s based on 12-17 students” (@TWallack)
  8. Iranian media says Washington Post journalist is a spy: Among the “evidence” of Jason Rezaian‘s perfidy to appear in reports: He purportedly co-directed an Iranian “Happy” video and follows The Huffington Post on Twitter. “While the accusations in the articles against Rezaian appear far-fetched, they are a worrying sign that the cases could be used to further a domestic political issue.” (Al-Monitor) | Anthony Bourdain interviewed Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, not long before they were arrested. (The Washington Post)
  9. 6 strategies publishers can use to make money off events: “The Chattanooga Times Free Press, a private company in Tennessee’s fourth-largest city, earned well into the seven digits off of just 12 events, making ‘direct events revenue’ 11 percent of its retail revenue.” (API)
  10. InStyle will reveal its September cover on Snapchat: Yep. (SocialTimes)
  11. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Bryan Rackleff will be creative director at Storyful. Previously, he was digital creative director at Comedy Central. (@raju) | Steven Kotok, chief executive of Dennis U.S., will leave the company. (Capital New York) | Tyson Evans, New York Times deputy editor of interactive news, and Jonathan Galinsky, a manager of strategy, will join the paper’s newsroom strategy team, according to a memo from Arthur Gregg Sulzberger. (Romenesko) | William Kole has been named New England news editor for the Associated Press. Previously, he was AP’s New England bureau chief. (AP) | Tom Berman will be Central region editor for the AP. He was most recently the acting editor for the region. (AP) | Job of the day: The Press of Atlantic City is looking for a news reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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Tennessean-style changes coming to four other Gannett newsrooms

The Tennessean isn’t the only Gannett newspaper embarking on “a newsroom of the future” with fewer managers, more nimble reporters and a smaller overall staff in the 24 hours after the company announced it was spinning off its publishing business.

Letters to readers similar to the one posted by the Tennessean’s vice president and executive editor, Stefanie Murray, have been published to the sites of:

In one of the less sweepingly positive of the five letters, Asheville Citizen-Times executive editor Joshua Awtry acknowledges impending layoffs:

Full disclosure: realigning will come with some pain. In keeping with the realities of a fragmented media landscape, the trade-off is that there will be fewer management positions, fewer production-related roles, and that will make us a little smaller overall.

“This production efficiency will result in the elimination of two copy editor positions at the Pensacola News Journal,” writes executive editor Lisa Nellessen-Lara. She also writes that two reporters will be hired.

“Wrenching changes like this don’t come without some pain,” writes William Fox, managing editor at The Greenville News. “There will be fewer management positions and a smaller number of production-related roles. Staff will need new tools and skillsets in order to fulfill their new roles.”

The goal across the sites, it seems, is a “reinvestment in reporting resources,” as Awtry put it.

Writes Hollis R. Towns, Asbury Park Press executive editor/vice president news:

We are flattening our management structure to be more nimble, with fewer hierarchical reporting lines and fewer managers. Reporters will be able to post to APP.com directly, cutting layers to give you the news more quickly and efficiently. Reporters will be empowered to roam for news and listen to you in a more self-directed way. The stories they write will be based on what you read and click on.

In an interview with Poynter on Tuesday, The Tennessean’s Murray said one major goal of the reshuffling is to have more “self-sufficient reporters producing publication-ready copy.” The paper is “deconstructing the typical assigning editors job,” resulting in roles such as audience analyst, engagement editor, storytelling coach and content strategist.

The Tennessean’s staff will fall about 15 percent, from 89 to 76.


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Tennessean will use data, not ‘the journalist’s gut,’ to make decisions

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 (ha ha, OK, you got me, it’s more than 10) media stories.

  1. 21st Century Fox won’t pursue Time Warner: Rupert Murdoch sent a honcho-to-honcho email to Jeffrey L. Bewkes Tuesday afternoon, notifying the Time Warner chief he was withdrawing his previous offer. (NYT) | “Arguably, shareholders had scuttled” the deal already, Brian Stelter writes: “21st Century Fox shares had dropped nearly 10% since the initial bid for Time Warner earlier this summer.” (CNN) | “Long media nerd earnings day. Was going to be fun. But now… [sad trombone]” (@pkafka) | “One large Fox investor said the market is worried about Murdoch’s discipline when it comes to deal-making,” Cristina Alesci reported Tuesday morning. (CNN) | Time Warner revenue was up 3 percent in the second quarter of 2014 over the same period the year before. HBO’s revenue was up 17 percent. (Variety) || Former corporate mate Time Inc. released earnings, too: Revenue was down 1.6 percent. (WWD) | An analyst tells Nicole Levy more layoffs are possible at Time Inc. (Capital)
  2. Tennessean’s “newsroom of the future” will have fewer employees: Everyone will have to reapply for new jobs at the Gannett-owned paper, Executive Editor Stefanie Murray writes. (The Tennessean) | Blake Farmer reports: “Currently, the headcount is at 89. There are 76 positions on the new org chart.” (Nashville Public Radio) | Read: Fewer editors. The reporting staff will grow from 37 to 43, Murray told Poynter in a phone call Tuesday evening. Management positions will fall from 17 to 10. The goal is “self-sufficient reporters producing publication-ready copy,” Murray said. New roles include audience analysts, engagement editors, storytelling coaches and content strategists, and coverage will be determined by listening to readers and gaining a deep understanding of audience analytics: “We’re going to use research as the guide to make decisions and not the journalist’s gut,” she said. The reapplication process should be complete by mid-September, Murray said. || Farmer reported The Tennessean is one of Gannett’s “beta” newsrooms, and indeed, Gannett’s Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen-Times is undergoing a “sweeping reconfiguration” as well. (Citizen-Times)
  3. The NSA stunk up The Intercept’s scoop: The spy agency gave documents to AP reporter Eileen Sullivan after The Intercept asked about them. “After seeing you had the docs, and the fact we had been working with Eileen, we did feel compelled to give her a heads up,” Ryan Grim reports an NSA official told Intercept EIC John Cook in a conference call. “We thought she would publish after you.” (HuffPost) | Sullivan is “no govt shill,” former AP reporter Matt Apuzzo tells Grim in a very interesting discussion. (@mattapuzzo) | The Intercept’s story. | AP’s story.
  4. A look at RT: Mashable interviews current and foreign journalists: Former RT reporter Sara Firth says, “The problem comes if you have information that isn’t in line with what RT is saying. That’s never going to get on air.” RT host Anissa Naouai tells Mashable: “I’m not necessarily sure that after RT I’d want to work for the media.” (Mashable) | Related: David Remnick on Vladimir Putin’s “New Anti-Americanism” (The New Yorker)
  5. Article from Washington Post’s new “Storyline” project takes grisly editor’s note: “Several passages have been removed from this story because the source of those passages, Mickyel Bradford, has admitted to fabricating them,” a note on Jeff Guo‘s story about “The black HIV epidemic” reads. (The Washington Post) | Because of the way the story framed Bradford’s false narrative, “readers might have supposed that Guo was right there, witnessing the interactions between the two men.” (The Washington Post) | Related: “For woman in New York Times hoarding article, a long wait for an editor’s note” (The Washington Post)
  6. BuzzFeed has a new president: Greg Coleman has worked at The Huffington Post and at the advertising agency Criteo. The latter résumé item “is increasingly valuable as publications work to counter the downward march of rates for traditional online advertising,” Ravi Somaiya writes. (NYT)
  7. Dan Snyder’s small media empire: Dave McKenna details the Redskins owner’s never-ending search for friendly coverage. “Lots of the worst things about modern sports marketing—team-produced programming and team-owned news operations—were Snyder innovations.” (Deadspin)
  8. HuffPost moving into Middle East: Plans to “launch an Arabic-language edition aimed at the growing number of young people in the Middle East with mobile devices.” The staff will be based in London. (The Guardian)
  9. Bill Keller says NYT Co. shouldn’t test employees for marijuana use: Current policy “proves that reports of the death of irony are much exaggerated,” he says in a Reddit AMA. (Poynter) | Related: Snoop Dogg asked Times Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal “whats wrong wit a lil wake n bake??” during another AMA Tuesday. (Mediaite) | Rosenthal invited him to visit the Times building, Paul Smalera reports, explaining that “wake and bake” is “a slang term for the act of smoking marijuana upon rising in the morning.” (NYT) | “‘With Juice, Gin’” (@mattfleg)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Mirta Ojito will be director of news standards for Telemundo. Formerly, Ojito was an assistant professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. (Telemundo) | Mike Nizza will be executive editor of the as-yet unlaunched Bloomberg Politics website. Formerly, Nizza was digital editor at Esquire. (Fishbowl DC) | Lauren Kern will be executive editor of New York Magazine. Previously, she was deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. (Capital New York) | Job of the day: The (Tupelo) Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal is looking for a law enforcement reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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Earns Gannett

Gannett spins off, Murdoch and Time Warner square off

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Gannett will split publishing, broadcast assets: Its acquistion of broadcast companies and the 73 percent of Cars.com it didn’t own make this “the right time for a separation,” CEO Gracia Martore says in a statement. Robert J. Dickey will run the publishing company, which be called Gannett and will hold USA Today and 81 dailies, plus the U.K.’s Newsquest. (Poynter) | Just yesterday, Ken Doctor asked whether Gannett would be the next big media company to split its assets. (Nieman) | Rick Edmonds explained the rash of splits last week. Newspaper groups can “theoretically do better with management whose exclusive focus is on the particular challenges of that industry,” he wrote. (Poynter)
  2. Let us now observe Rupert Murdoch’s mating dance: Time Warner’s “unyielding stance has at least some analysts wondering if an acquisition really is inevitable,” Jonathan Mahler writes. The company is “trying to stir up doubts about the prospects of a combined entity, underscoring the potential for regulatory concerns and playing up the possibility of a culture clash between the generally liberal, purely public Time Warner, and the conservative, essentially family-run Fox.” (NYT) | Both companies announce earnings tomorrow. | Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox “is expected to make an aggressive case for merging with Time Warner Inc during its quarterly earnings call,” Jennifer Saba writes. Time Warner “will be on the hook to explain why it is better off going solo.” (Reuters) | Viacom, CBS and Disney also announce earnings this week. “All major media companies reporting this week are expected to show some weakness in their advertising business,” Amol Sharma writes. (WSJ)
  3. Mobile traffic dropped 8.5 percent during Facebook outage: And desktop traffic increased 3.5 percent. “While we certainly can’t claim that the outage was the cause of that uptick in desktop traffic, the timing is certainly notable,” Josh Schwartz writes, saying there was a “9% increase in homepage direct traffic on sites with loyal homepage followings.” (Chartbeat) | “Four takeaways from Facebook’s outage for publishers” (The Media Briefing) | Vaguely related: Google News launches a center for publishers. Here’s how it says to get the most out of it. (Google)
  4. The newspaper in the “middle” of the Gaza war: Haaretz “has the most potential for bridging across biases and political barriers” in coverage of the conflict, Gilad Lotan writes. (Medium) | “Unfortunately, Ha’aretz is struggling, squeezed both by the general decline of print newspapers and the growing rightward tilt of Israeli opinion.” (Quartz)
  5. Journalism Diversity Project relaunches: A list of journalists for bosses who say they can’t find qualified minority applicants. “Who makes the list? People of color, committing acts of journalism, and pushing the craft forward in the digital age.” (Journalism Diversity Project) | BACK IN 2011: “How a Twitter chat led to an online minority talent bank” (Poynter)
  6. The Washington Post announced its sale to Jeff Bezos a year ago today: Former owner Don Graham “has had a big burden lifted off him and he is very focused on looking forward and not back,” Slate chairman Jacob Weisberg tells Christine Haughney. (NYT) | FLASHBACK: Here’s audio of Graham’s announcement to Post staffers. (Poynter)
  7. Anchor faces charges: KTXL anchor Sabrina Rodriguez was charged with stealing wallets at a Coach store in Folsom, California. (Sacramento Bee) | “Her fiancé is behind bars on drug and arson charges.” (CBS Sacramento) | Rodriguez has taken leave. (KTXL)
  8. Leave James Risen alone: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Committee to Protect Journalists back a petition supporting the New York Times reporter. (CJR)
  9. “Selfie” and “bromance” will get the headlines: But true Scrabble players know the real news is that the Scrabble dictionary now has four new two-letter words. (AP)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Hatzel Vela will be a reporter for WPLG in Miami. Formerly, he was a reporter with WJLA in the Washington, D.C. area. Nina Judar will be beauty director for More magazine. Formerly, she was beauty director for Good Housekeeping. (Meredith Corporation) | Jessica Torres will be deputy editor of Siempre Mujer. Formerly, she was lifestyle editor there. (Meredith Corporation) | Eric Ulken will be executive director for digital strategy for Interstate General Media. Currently, he is product director at Seattletimes.com. (Philly.com) | Jeff Bergin has been named vice president of vertical strategy at Hearst Newspapers. Previously, he was senior vice president of advertising sales at the San Francisco Chronicle. (Hearst.com) | Mark Ellis has been named senior vice president of corporate sales for Time Inc. Previously, he was vice president of North American sales at Yahoo. (Time Inc.) | Kelly Cobiella has been named London correspondent for NBC News. Previously, she’d been a correspondent for both ABC News and CBS News. (TV Newser) | Job of the day: Mozilla is looking for freelance tech reporters for Mozilla Voices. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Jessica Torres will be deputy beauty director of Siempre Mujer. In fact, she will be deputy editor. Read more

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Gannett will spin off publishing business

Gannett

Gannett will split its broadcast and publishing divisions into separate companies, the company announced Tuesday. The company’s recent additions to its broadcast station ownership “make this the right time for a separation into two market-leading companies,” Gannett CEO Gracia Martore says in a statement.

Both companies will remain headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Robert J. Dickey, the president of Gannett’s community publishing division, will be CEO of the publishing company. The publishing company will be named Gannett; the broadcast company’s name is yet to be determined.

Digital assets including CareerBuilder and Cars.com, which Gannett also announced it has acquired in full, will remain with the broadcast group.

In addition to USA Today, Gannett’s publishing division will own 81 U.S. dailies and the U.K.’s Newsquest.

Related: Poynter’s Rick Edmonds explains why newspapers and broadcasting groups keep splitting up Read more

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breakup rope  on big dollar background

Splitsville: Why newspapers and TV are going their separate ways corporately

Like the sale of the Washington Post this time last year, the merger of E.W. Scripps and Journal Communications, announced last night, and their reorganization into separate print and broadcast companies came as a jaw-dropping surprise.

But the morning after, the complicated transaction makes perfect sense.

  • Local broadcasting is seeing a wave of consolidations. The business is healthy, and getting bigger provides station groups more leverage negotiating retransmission fees with cable providers. That has become a significant new source of revenue growth as political and automotive advertising remain strong.
  • Financially squeezed newspapers drag down the share price of companies with prospering TV, cable and digital divisions. The spinoff of Tribune Publishing scheduled next week and the division of News Corp a year ago give the remaining parent television and entertainment companies investment wind at their back.
  • At the same time, newspaper groups theoretically do better with management whose exclusive focus is on the particular challenges of that industry. Otherwise, they can end up a neglected problem child, getting less capital allocation and management attention, in a company with several financially stronger divisions.

My colleague Al Tompkins has separately rounded up a list of broadcast mergers and print spinoffs, and he also documents the stock price kick broadcast/digital companies have experienced. (Scripps stock is up smartly today  – more than 10 percent by early afternoon.).

For the newspaper industry, the de-consolidation trend has been building steam for seven years now, since the business took a deep dip during the recession of 2006-2009, Scripps did a version in 2007. leaving legacy broadcast and newspapers in one company while putting Food Network and other cable stations in another.

That same year Belo broke its newspaper and television businesses in two. The A.H. Belo newspaper group has since sold papers in Riverside and Providence leaving just the Dallas Morning News and nearby Denton. The Belo television stations have been bought by Gannett’s broadcast group.

Media General was flirting with insolvency in early 2012 when it sold its newspaper group to Warren Buffett’s BH Media (and the Tampa Tribune to another buyer). Media General has bought additional stations since.

While focus in the Post deal was in Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the venerable newspaper, it also left highly profitable local broadcast and cable divisions in the surviving Graham Holdings.

Finally, last year Rupert Murdoch split his international newspaper and entertainment/cable ventures into two companies. And Tribune, emerging from bankruptcy, decided to remake itself as a television and digital company with the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and six other dailies spun off into Tribune Publishing.

That leaves Gannett. And the Scripps-Journal transaction will heighten existing Wall Street pressure on the company to sell or spin off its 81 community newspapers and USA Today.

CEO Gracia Martore was asked about that possibility in a second quarter earnings conference call with analysts 10 days ago, though the questioner said “I know you won’t answer this.”

In fact, she did answer, albeit in ambiguous fashion. Both a USA Today reporter and I heard Martore say some newspaper organizations are for sale at the right price. But a Gannett spokesman walked that back the next day with a “clarification” that she was referring to newspapers owned by other companies.

Nonetheless, my fellow industry analyst, Ken Doctor has written that, in corporate-speak, Martore was opening the door to sale or spinoff at least a crack. And that was before the Scripps/Journal deal.

Journal Media Group will begin life, when the transaction is completed early next year, debt-free and with $10 million in cash. The company will be based in Milwaukee, though its CEO will be Tim Stautberg, who has headed Scripps newspaper division. The Journal Sentinel is at least twice as big in circulation as any of Scripps’s 12 papers and will be the flagship of the new company. The Journal Sentinel has strengths as a business too — typically among the top papers in household penetration.

All that augers well for editorial quality and financial prospects for the Journal Sentinel and its new mates. (Disclosure: I know and respect top business and news executives at both companies).

However, while Scripps is the acquiring company, Journal Publications will not give members of the Scripps family a special class of stock and voting control. So it will lack the buffer of family control and tradition that has kept McClatchy and the Sulzbergers’ New York Times Co. independent in these tough times. Journal Media Group could itself become a takeover candidate in the near future.

I am sure Journal Sentinel staff and perhaps readers too are wondering whether the paper will continue its investment in outstanding investigative projects, which have garnered three Pulitzers and many other award over the last six years, Scripps ownership certainly offers brighter prospect for that than a takeover by a turnaround hedge fund.

I sample, rather than read regularly, the work of metro newspaper organizations. But I would put the Journal Sentinel in the top rank, together with Poynter’s Tampa Bay Times, the Boston Globe, Seattle Times, Dallas Morning New and Star-Tribune of Minneapolis.

Curiously, all six of those are essentially single-paper operations — or at least they were until this morning. Joining a chain, and a publicly-traded one, is sure to up the pressure for financial performance on the Journal Sentinel, so I would not be astonished to see newsroom cuts down the road. Read more

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Gannett

If Gannett is a bellwether, 2014 will be another tough year for newspaper advertising

the sign for Gannett headquarters is displayed in McLean, Va. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, file)

the sign for Gannett headquarters is displayed in McLean, Va. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, file)

Since the Newspaper Association of America stopped reporting quarterly revenue results last year, I have looked at Gannett’s numbers as a reasonable proxy for the industry. Here are three takeaways from yesterday’s second quarter earnings report and conference call with analysts.

  • National advertising was terrible in the second quarter (down 16.3 percent compared to the same period in 2013) for Gannett’s publishing division. Despite a small gain in digital advertising and marketing services, overall advertising was down 6 percent.CEO Gracia Martore told analysts she had heard of similar weak national results from friends in the industry, as have I.  One explanation, on top of the stop-and-go economic recovery — the World Cup was an attractive advertising opportunity for big companies, and they pulled from print budgets to go heavy in social media.

    The third quarter is looking somewhat better, she said.

  • Gannett’s results show just how unequal the local broadcast and local newspaper businesses have become.  Through the first six months of 2014 publishing had $1,709,000,000 in revenues, 2.2 times as much as broadcast’s $781,000,000.  However broadcast’s operating income was $326,000,000, 3.4 times as much as print’s $96,000,000.

    By my math that makes broadcasting 7.5 times more profitable.

    No wonder Gannett has bought two station groups in the last year and is on the prowl for more.  Martore also said she would consider buying more TV stations or digital properties but was not interested in acquiring more papers.  She added that the chain’s 81 local papers are not for sale. I also don’t think a spinoff of the whole division like the one Tribune is doing in early August is in the cards.

  • Circulation is a relative bright spot, though overall it was down slightly year-to-year in the second quarter (by 0.6 percent).  Martore and other executives continue to be pleased with a program putting a section of USA Today news in its 35 largest local papers.  That helps justify higher rates, strengthens subscriber retention and has supported gains in home-delivery numbers and revenue.  (USA Today is taking deep cuts in single-copy sales as part of its current strategy, depressing the total result.)Martore said that the company will roll out a smaller USA Today section in 13 more of its local titles later this year and may sell the supplement to others.  With the Washington Post now offering a free digital subscription to digital subscribers at a number of regional newspapers, these extra helpings of national news may be a mini-trend.

The Gannett results include its substantial holding of newspapers in Great Britain, which are having a reasonably good year. So the numbers might have been a little worse otherwise.  I look for similar trends as the New York Times Co., McClatchy  E.W. Scripps and other publicly traded newspaper companies report second quarter earnings in coming weeks.

(Clarification: An earlier version of this story said that Martore would consider selling some Gannett papers.   In fact, she said that some papers of other companies are on the market. but Gannett will not be a buyer.) Read more

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Earns Gannett

Circulation revenue rises at Gannett’s local papers

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 (OK, perhaps slightly more than 10) media stories.

  1. Gannett had a good second quarter: Broadcast revenue was “almost 88 percent higher in the quarter compared to the second quarter last year.” Publishing advertising revenue fell about 5 percent; circulation was roughly flat, and “At local domestic publishing sites, home delivery circulation revenue was up in the quarter due, in part, to strategic pricing actions associated with enhanced content.” (Gannett)
  2. Washington Post fights the “wonk wars”: The Washington Post’s new “Storyline” project is “dedicated to the power of stories to help us understand complicated, critical things,” Editor Jim Tankersley writes. (The Washington Post) | Michael Calderone takes a look: “It’s unlikely The Post would’ve launched a project like Storyline a few years ago.” (HuffPost) | Tankersley writes that as a college student he was inspired by Richard Read‘s 1998 series about french fries: “Those stories brought the crisis home in a way no textbook or straight news piece could, because at each step, they showed how global trends touched people’s lives and livelihoods.” (The Oregonian)
  3. Why corrupt politicians should avoid Vermont: Vermont has the best-covered legislature in the country, and California has the worst, Pew finds. It takes another view of its data on statehouse reporters, looking at the relationship between the number of reporters and states’ population. (Pew) | “Yes, most national news sites have had to slim down but they remain major behemoths in terms of staff. Regional and local news organizations have been hit far harder, meaning that the at-the-roots level coverage of politicians and policies is significantly restricted if not nonexistent.” (The Washington Post)
  4. Press secretary lectures reporters on anonymous sources: White House press secretary Josh Earnest complained about the sourcing of a Washington Post story. (The Daily Caller) | The “criticism doesn’t make sense,” Post national editor Cameron Barr says. “We are sometimes compelled to rely on background sources with knowledge of internal deliberations – that is one of the best means available to hold the administration and other powerful institutions to account.” (Poynter) | “This is rich.” (Politico) | “Two reporters pointed out the White House is hosting its own anonymous call Monday afternoon on a job-training report.” (Business Insider) | “What Earnest knows so well is that competitive Beltway reporters will continue participating in those accountability-defying background briefings, even though the White House press secretary is on record as questioning their utility.” (The Washington Post)
  5. Jill Abramson sought friendly press: Women reporters have shown an “absurd display of credulity and clubbiness” while interviewing the former NYT executive editor, Liz Spayd writes. (CJR) | Very slightly related: Here’s Abramson talking about traffic safety. (The Village Voice)
  6. Analyst says Tribune’s newspapers are worth $635 million: That’s “less than 10 percent of Tribune Co.’s total valuation,” Robert Channick reports. (Chicago Tribune)
  7. “I regret wasting time thinking I wasn’t good enough”: Advice for young journalists of color from Cord Jefferson, Anna Holmes, Jenna Wortham, Wesley Lowery and others. (BuzzFeed)
  8. There’s money in events: Functions put on by AtlanticLive, the company’s events business, “now account for close to one-fifth of the Atlantic’s overall revenue.” (DigiDay) | Recently: NPR’s Margaret Low Smith will run AtlanticLive. (Poynter)
  9. Here’s today’s world news, edited by Kristen Hare: Colin Brazier, the Sky News reporter who pulled items out of a suitcase from the MH17 crash while on air, apologized in a column in The Guardian on Tuesday. | Journalists lives are in danger while covering Gaza, Reporters Without Borders wrote Tuesday. Two Palestinian journalists have been killed and four injured so far. | International News Safety Institute reported Monday that “Ukraine was the most dangerous country for journalists” in the first half of the year. So far, seven members of the media have been killed. | Here’s the front page of The West Australian, from Perth, Australia, courtesy Newseum:

    AUS_WA

  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Andy Wright is the new publisher of The New York Times Magazine. | Janet Mock has been named a contributing editor to Marie Claire. She’s the author of New York Times bestseller Redefining Realness, and a former staff editor at People. (@janetmock) | Garrett Graff has joined Politico Magazine as a senior staff writer. Formerly, he was editor-in-chief of The Washingtonian. (Politico) | Slate moves: Dan Kois is now culture editor at Slate. (@juliaturner) John Swansburg is deputy editor, Josh Levin is executive editor. (Muck Rack) | Katie Nelson will be national editor at the Huffington Post. Previously, she was deputy managing editor for digital at the New York Daily News. (@Joy_Resmovits) | Zach Pagano has joined KRDO in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a multimedia journalist. Formerly, he was an anchor at KCWY in Casper, Wyoming. (Zach Pagano) | Jon Skorburg will be vice president and general manager at WOI in Des Moines, Iowa. Formerly, he was vice president and general manager at WQRF in Rockford, Illinois. (Mediabistro) | Margaret Schmidt has been named editor of The Jersey Journal. Formerly, she was managing editor of the paper. (The Jersey Journal) Job alert: California’s KQEDis looking for interns to start in September. Get your résumés in! | Send Ben your job moves:bmullin@poynter.org.

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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Mobile trends to watch in second half of 2014; plus, a newsgathering guide to Tweetdeck

Here’s our roundup of the top digital and social media stories you should know about (and from Andrew Beaujon, 10 media stories to start your day, and from Kristen Hare, a world roundup):

— At Poynter, Adam Hochberg explores in depth Gannett’s three-year CMS overhaul to “replace the existing systems and serve every Gannett newsroom – from USA Today to KHOU-TV in Houston to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.”

Frédéric Filloux runs down three mobile trends to watch for the rest of 2014, including questions about what news sites should do about the market of Android users — which is bigger than the iOS market but less lucrative.

Joanna Geary, Twitter UK’s head of news, visited the Wall Street Journal in June to share tips on how to use Tweetdeck to gather news. Sarah Marshall turned them into a handy guide.

— Lots of executives have left Twitter lately, Mike Isaac and Vindu Goel write at The New York Times Bits blog, but the company has kept things stable in one area: its advertising team.

— More Poynter digital stories you might have missed last week: Don’t get fooled by fake hurricane photos this summer, how NPR built its Civil Rights Act interactive, and why the Tulsa World’s new sports sites link prominently to competitors.


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Case Study: Gannett’s monumental task — A content management system for all

(This case study, the fifth in an occasional series, was underwritten by a grant from the Stibo-Foundation.) Note: CCI Europe is a subsidiary of Stibo, whose foundation made a grant for this series. The funder had no editorial input on the study.

In 2011, Gannett Co. owned more than a hundred newspapers and television stations – each with its own website. To publish its online material, the company was supporting about a half dozen content management systems.

Journalists in most of the company’s broadcast newsrooms wrote and published their digital stories through a homegrown CMS called Newsmaker, while almost all of Gannett’s newspaper websites were powered with Saxotech. But the Arizona Republic had its own system known as Enigma, and the Des Moines Register posted some of its content through WordPress.

Meanwhile, Gannett’s flagship publication, USA Today, maintained its site with a proprietary system it simply called “CMS.”

The assortment of software left Gannett no easy way to share web content among its properties, and some systems lacked basic functions such as the ability to embed hyperlinks or multimedia into articles.

“None of these digital systems was far enough along or modern enough,” said Mitch Gelman, Gannett Digital Vice President/Product.“ Gannett was so far behind the CNN’s and the MSNBC’s of the world.”

So Gannett embarked upon a massive digital overhaul. It set out to design and build a content management system that would replace the existing systems and serve every Gannett newsroom – from USA Today to KHOU-TV in Houston to the Fort Collins Coloradoan – allowing them to post and share material more easily.

At the same time it was revamping its back-end content system, Gannett chose to update  the user interface for its more than 120 local and national news websites, bringing them all onto one company-wide design that would more prominently feature photos and multimedia and allow editors to customize the user experience for computers, tablets, and phones.

“What we’re doing here at Gannett is relatively unprecedented,” Gelman said in a May 2014 interview at Gannett’s northern Virginia headquarters. “The objective was to publish an interface that had never been done before.”

Plunging into one of the largest CMS transitions ever attempted by a media organization, Gannett hoped to succeed where other media companies have stumbled. Time Inc. and the BBC are among the media organizations that suffered through CMS transitions that didn’t meet their goals, ran over budget, or failed entirely.

“Everyone’s CMS gives them pain,” said digital media consultant Elizabeth Osder, who’s worked with AOL, The Daily Beast, and other media clients.

In the web’s early days, some media companies struggled with simplistic content management systems that forced them to retype or cut-and-paste every newspaper story or broadcast script.

New systems typically eliminate those annoyances. But they can introduce fresh problems as news organizations expect them to meet modern challenges, such as streaming video and audio, serving up fancier ads, and displaying specialized content on phones and tablets.

“There is no shortage of horror stories,” Osder said in a phone interview.

In the three years since Gannett began its transition, it has had its share of delays and hiccups. But it has avoided the catastrophic problems that doomed some of its competitors’ transitions. As it nears the end of the process of converting its properties to its new content management system, the company is generally pleased with the results.

“We didn’t get all the things we wanted,” said USA Today Executive Editor of Content Susan Weiss. “But what we did get was a much easier, faster, simpler publishing system.”

BACKGROUND

Gannett is a publicly-traded $6.5 billion company that claims its media properties reach more than 110 million people every month. Perhaps best known as the publisher of USA Today, the nation’s second largest newspaper by circulation, the company also has grown into a major force in local television. After several acquisitions, it now owns or operates 42 TV stations. Gannett owns more NBC and CBS affiliates than any company other than the networks themselves and ranks fourth among ABC owners.

It reduced its newspaper holdings over the past decade, but continues to operate 81 daily papers and 443 non-dailies in 30 states, including the Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, and Indianapolis Star.

Gannett says its digital division reaches more than 65 million unique visitors every month through USAToday.com, the websites of its local newspapers and TV stations, and a variety of other products, such as CareerBuilder.com, Shoplocal.com, and the coupon site Dealchicken.com. Gannett content also feeds a handful of unconventional news platforms, such as large touch screens in hotel lobbies and a digital portal called “The Point,” which is available to travelers who access the in-house wifi networks at Hilton hotels.

Gannett’s acquisitions left it with a conglomeration of media properties that employed various digital strategies and relied on different tools. Some of Gannett’s properties were saddled with older content management systems that required a good bit of manual coding or other workarounds to post content.

In addition, Gannett executives feared that many of their properties had by 2011 fallen off the cutting edge of technology and design. USA Today – whose flashy colors and bold graphics transformed the look of print newspapers a generation ago – maintained a website that was adequate but hardly groundbreaking. The design of USAToday.com hadn’t changed since 2008, and a 2011 Poynter analysis of comScore data concluded it was the tenth most visited news website in the U.S., well behind such sites as CNN, the New York Times, and Huffington Post.

By 2011, Gannett had experienced several years of disappointing financial results. 2011 was its fifth consecutive year of revenue losses, as newspaper advertising fell drastically. In addition, digital revenue, which analysts consider a key driver of media companies’ growth, increased slower than hoped – only about five percent in 2011. By the end of the year, Gannett’s stock was down 85 percent from its 2004 high.

CHALLENGE

As it embarked on redesigning both the user experience and the back-end of its newspaper and TV station websites, Gannett set ambitious goals that Gelman said were intended to “leapfrog” the competition:

  • On the user side, Gannett envisioned an interface that was more touch-friendly and “swipe able,” even for readers who were accessing the site on desktop computers. Unlike most desktop sites, which required users to click around menu bars and do a lot of scrolling, Gannett wanted a more horizontal design that emphasized photos, graphics, and headlines. “The objective was to publish an interface that had never been done before,” Gelman said. “What we wanted to achieve out of this was a more tablet-like experience.”
  • Gannett sought to customize the experience for users who actually did view its sites on tablets and phones. It wanted an easy way for editors to serve up device-specific content. For instance, a user of a TV station’s iPhone app might see different information from somebody browsing the station’s website on a desktop computer.
  • On the back-end, the company desired a content management system that would allow its publications and broadcast stations to better share stories. For years, Gannett had attempted to leverage the combined resources of its local and national newsrooms, but found that the lack of a unified platform hampered those efforts. “There were many different attempts to bring Gannett content together, and they did not meet expectations,” Gelman said. “That connective tissue that would bring everything together had to be established.”
  • The system would have to work for a variety of news organizations, from the large newsroom at USA Today to small, lightly-staffed newspapers and stations in places such as Staunton, Virginia and St. George, Utah. Furthermore, Gelman wanted it to be remotely accessible to field reporters – an attribute that was lacking in some of the company’s earlier content management systems. “You had to be able to open up a computer on a hood of a police car outside a hostage situation and be able to file and update your coverage in real time,” he said.
  • To drive revenue, Gannett wanted its redesigned websites to accommodate “high impact advertising”– larger, more colorful ads that would be integrated into the site design and harder for users to ignore. In addition, the company wanted its new back-end to support better “semantic tagging,” so that it would more accurately match advertising with the content on each page.
  • Finally, the company set an ambitious timetable to develop and roll out the new systems. The target date for the first conversion at USA Today was September 15, 2012, which was the publication’s thirtieth anniversary and also the date the newspaper planned to unveil a new design for its print editions. That gave Gannett about a year to develop, test, and implement both the back-end content management system and the new USA Today website.

OPTIONS AND DECISIONS

During a two-day meeting in August 2011, Gannett began the process of remaking its digital personality. Early on, it made several key decisions.

First, it decided to start fresh by developing a totally new system for its back-end content management. It determined that none of its current content management systems – nor any existing off-the-shelf product – would do the job.

“Almost invariably, you’ll find in the industry when these projects get going, you’re forced to start with something that was in existence before,” said Steve Kurtz, Gannett’s Vice President for Product Development.

“We were afforded the opportunity to start from scratch,” Kurtz said in an interview. “And that really allowed us the opportunity to do it right.”

Second, to narrow the scope of the project, the company limited the technological revamp to only the digital side of its operations – the functions that directly involve feeding content to its websites and digital apps. There was no change in the software Gannett uses to publish the print editions of its newspapers, a program from CCI called Newsgate. Likewise, Gannett television stations would continue to produce their newscasts and feed their Teleprompters using AP’s ENPS software.

That decision had its pros and cons. On the negative side, it meant that every Gannett newsroom would simultaneously be using two software products to manage content – Newsgate or ENPS to produce their newspapers or TV newscasts, and the new CMS for online publishing. That would create an extra burden on editors and producers to assure that stories were properly loaded and updated in each system. But the decision also helped Gannett avoid a challenge that’s vexed other news organizations – trying to build an all-in-one content system that’s expected to do too much.

After the August 2011 meeting, a team of developers, journalists, and executives went to work building the new Gannett CMS, which they named “Presto.” Meanwhile, Gannett worked with the digital design firm Fi to overhaul the interface readers would see when they visited a Gannett newspaper or TV station web site. While the CMS transition and the website redesign were separate projects, they were inextricably linked because Presto would be the only CMS with the necessary functions to provide content to the new websites.

“It was an intense effort for about six months,” Kurtz said.

To help build newsroom support for the new system and assure it would meet journalists’ needs, a handful of editorial personnel were temporarily reassigned to work with the Presto team and provide feedback on the system as it was being developed. Reporters, editors, photographers, and others were embedded with the development team for stints ranging from two weeks to several months.

“I just really started banging on the tool and talking out the process with them,” said USA Today Mobile Editor Emily Brown. “Everybody’s workflow is just a little bit different, and when we were able to bang on the tool in our own special way, we were able to find things that needed to be tweaked.”

For instance, Brown was concerned that early builds of Presto wouldn’t handle breaking news well. The system’s design was oriented toward posting complete stories in which all the text and photos were ready to publish. Brown said the embedded journalists helped the designers better equip Presto for fast-moving news situations, when stories often are written and published one sentence or one photo at a time.

Gelman wouldn’t put a cost figure on the transition, but wrote in an email that Presto represented “a healthy investment” in Gannett’s digital future. He said the price was “less than most companies end up spending” on their content management systems, and he said part of the cost was offset because Gannett no longer will pay to use and upgrade its existing systems.

IMPLEMENTATION AND RESULTS

As planned, USA Today began publishing content with Presto September 15, 2012. At the same time, the public was invited to beta the redesigned USA Today website. For two weeks, the newspaper operated both its old and new CMS and both its old and new website. The old systems were turned off September 29, 2012, and USA Today transitioned entirely to Presto and the new site design.

“It was really hectic,” Brown said in an interview. “Work flow was changing. The tool was changing. The website was changing,”

USA Today switched to the new systems without any catastrophic problems, though the transition wasn’t painless. Brown describes a “war room” environment, as journalists struggled to report the news – less than eight weeks before the 2012 election – while also becoming familiar with Presto and its quirks. Read more

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