Gannett earnings strong, but publishing revenues continue a steep slide

FILE - This July 14, 2010 file photo shows the Gannett headquarters in McLean, Va. Gannett Co. reported Overall company revenue growth of 15 percent. The media company said, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE – This July 14, 2010 file photo shows the Gannett headquarters in McLean, Va. Gannett Co. reported Overall company revenue growth of 15 percent. The media company said, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Embedded in otherwise excellent third quarter financial results reported today by Gannett are some sobering numbers on the continuing decline of revenues for its newspaper division.

U.S publishing ad revenues year-to-date are down 6.3 percent. At Gannett, that difference is more than made up by booming broadcast operations and freestanding digital ventures like CareerBuilder.  So revenues for the entire company are up a healthy 13.4 percent.

But I also consider USA Today and Gannett’s 81 community newspapers a reasonable proxy for the entire newspaper industry, which has stopped reporting its financial results quarterly.  If the rest of the year is roughly in line, newspapers are on track again in 2014 to lose $1 billion-plus in advertising.

That’s against a 2013 base of $17.30 billion industrywide in daily print advertising or $23.57 billion including all form of advertising, according to estimates by the Newspaper Association of America.

Gannett’s advertising decline to date (-6.3 percent) roughly matches the industry rate in 2013 (-6.5 percent).  So 2014 is proving no better than 2013.  Recent waves of staff cuts as companies budget for 2015 suggest that revenue growth is not expected next year either.

At Gannett (and probably most U.S. papers) circulation revenues were up slightly for the quarter and holding even for the year. The papers are now cycling past one-time revenue gains of roughly 5 percent in both 2012 and 2013 from introduction of paywalls and price increases for print and print + digital subscriptions.

Digital advertising is increasing, mostly at USA Today, but not nearly enough to offset the print losses.  And the continued growth of digital marketing services, sold to local businesses, is another plus.

In an earnings conference call, CEO Gracia Martore said another bright spot for the company has been the introduction of a section of USA Today news at its 35 largest papers.  Surveys show a positive reader response, she said, in some cities justifying another round of subscription price increases.

There is an echo of that strategy throughout the industry.  This weekend both The New York Times and Washington Post introduced print supplements which regional papers can include in their Sunday editions.  The Post had earlier made a free subscription to its digital report available to digital subscribers of partnering regional papers.

This arrangement allows papers to focus on their local news report, while offering subscribers, especially the older demographic that prefers print, a fuller report of national and international news, as was standard in better financial times.

Gannett’s broadcast revenues are up 97.2 percent year-to-date in large part because the operation is much larger after acquisition of Belo’s 20 stations. Retransmission fees paid by cable systems to local stations continue strong, up 61 percent for the quarter.

And political advertising is booming beyond expectations.  At the company’s Denver station — where Colorado has both a competitive governor’s and U.S. Senate race — this year’s revenues are even outpacing those of 2012, a presidential year, said Martore.

The different trajectories of broadcast and print have prompted Gannett to plan splitting those operations into two companies, a spinoff Martore said should be completed by mid-2015.

News Corp., Media General, Tribune and the Washington Post (now Graham Holdings) have already completed such a split and Scripps and Journal Communications plan one as part of a merger.

Other public newspaper companies, New York Times, McClatchy and Lee, do not own TV stations. So, soon there will be no combined print and broadcast operations among public companies, and some larger private companies like Hearst have separated TV and newspaper divisions as well.

In theory the print-only companies will benefit from management focused exclusively on their digital transformation, audience and advertising issues.  And they won’t be competing internally with fast-growing broadcast for capital.

All that, however, leaves the big question lingering — can the companies slow the print advertising losses, generate enough digital ad growth, increase circulation revenue and bring in enough income from new ventures to make up the difference. Read more

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Earns Gannett

Gannett shifts some costs of USA Today layoffs to states

USA Today laid off about 70 people last month. Those who lost their jobs received a week of pay for every year of service, health care through the end of September and the vacation pay they’d already accrued for the year.

But as they turned in their laptops and cellphones, some USA Today journalists were surprised to find out who would pay a chunk of their farewell package: their state unemployment office.

USA Today is owned by Gannett, which doesn’t always pay laid-off workers a traditional severance. Instead, as in the case of the recent layoffs, it may provide a “transitional pay plan.” In one of these plans, Gannett, through a contractor called Total Management Solutions, makes up the difference between a worker’s old paycheck and their unemployment check for a certain amount of time.

Gannett didn’t make anyone available for an interview on this subject, but spokesperson Jeremy Gaines told Poynter in an email that “The Transitional Pay Plan (TPP) is one type of severance plan that Gannett offers. It provides one week of pay for every year of service to a maximum of 36 weeks, offset by an employee’s state unemployment benefit.”

If employees take on any paid work before the transitional pay period ends, their benefits — which are not subject to FICA deductions — are either reduced or lost. If they get a new job, the payments stop. Employees have to call in every week to their state unemployment office as well as to Total Management Solutions.

“They both interrogate you: ‘Are you employed?’” one former USA Today staffer who’d worked for the paper for more than 15 years told Poynter. “If you forget to call them one week you can presumably lose everything.”

The literature Gannett provides laid-off employees says the transitional pay benefit “provides a substantial benefit to employees as they transition from Gannett to a new job. It also allows Gannett to reduce its transition costs.”

“The taxpayers are paying part of my paycheck, basically,” said another laid-off staffer I spoke with, who said she found she could easily register with the Virginia Employment Commission online: “It’s not utter humiliation.” She found one way to take on freelance work and maintain her benefits while searching for a new gig: After speaking to her accountant, she set up an LLC and will ask freelance clients to pay her company instead.

Gannett has used this type of plan, also called supplemental employment benefits, since at least 2009. The New York Times reported on how Gannett used the plans with 1,400 people it laid off in July of that year. The distinction between transitional pay and severance, Richard Pérez-Peña wrote, was “lost on employees who say that the practical effect of being paid — or not — is the same, no matter how the program is labeled.”

Representatives of other newspaper companies, including Tribune, McClatchy and the New York Times Co., told Pérez-Peña in 2009 they provide more traditional severance packages. Attempts by Poynter to poll publishers on this point in 2014 did not meet any success.

USA Today’s newsroom doesn’t have a union, which is not uncommon among Gannett papers. (The Detroit Free Press, the Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle and the Indianapolis Star are among the few Gannett properties that have Guild representation.) But supplemental employment benefit plans developed in union-dominated companies in the ’50s, said Rick McHugh, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project. “The idea was really to have a guaranteed annual wage” at a time when layoffs were prevalent in the steel and auto industries, he said.

In many states, McHugh said, severance counts as remuneration and disqualifies workers from getting unemployment benefits: “That varies widely, but in the majority of states, say you worked there 10 years, and they’re giving you 10 weeks’ severance, you would lose 10 weeks’ unemployment benefit,” he said.

“I have to say this is a more beneficial approach than I would expect from Gannett,” said McHugh, who represented newspaper strikers concerning their unemployment insurance, including claims against Gannett, during the Detroit newspaper strike of 1995-2000. In the United States, he said, “with at-will employment, basically, there is no obligation to pay employees anything when you lay them off.” Read more


News for the Minecraft generation: Gannett experiments with virtual reality

Screenshot from a video about Gannett's experiment with virtual reality journalism in the Des Moines Register's story Harvest of Change.

Screenshot from a video about Gannett’s experiment with virtual reality journalism in the Des Moines Register’s story Harvest of Change.

One of America’s largest media companies is hoping that young readers want to get their news the same way that video gamers play World of Warcraft and Doom.

Gannett Company this week previewed its first project that allows readers to experience a news story in virtual reality. The project – produced by Gannett’s digital division and the Des Moines Register — requires users to wear a futuristic headset called the Oculus Rift, a small goggles-style video device that responds to the wearer’s head movements.

While the Rift is primarily marketed for gaming – allowing users to flee blood-thirsty aliens or control a 250-story fighting robot, Gannett’s project is significantly less harrowing. Part of a Register special report on Iowa agriculture, the company’s first virtual reality presentation is a 3-D immersive walking tour of a southwest Iowa family farm. Headset-clad users can watch a tractor being repaired, tag along as a child walks a baby calf, and see a variety of other farm activities depicted in computer animation, videos, and photographs.

“This is the way we, as journalists, are going to need to communicate to the Minecraft generation,” said Gannett Digital Vice President/Product Mitch Gelman, explaining that the project is targeted at 12- to 29-year-olds “who essentially are not picking up a newspaper from their front porch or sitting down in front of Brian Williams.”

Gelman says Gannett spent less than $50,000 on the project, which included recording 360-degree video at the farm, preparing editorial content, and rendering the presentation in a software engine called Unity. The finished product borrows heavily from the aesthetic of games, with spinning icons that users can click to reveal new items to explore.

“The Minecraft generation likes to find things, build things, discover things, and have fun,” Gelman said by phone from Gannett’s Northern Virginia headquarters. “Instead of building fictional representations in this type of game play, we should be able to build factual non-fiction.”

New opportunities and new ethical issues

The Register is promoting the project as a “cutting edge journalistic experience,” but few readers will be able to experience it fully. The Rift headset is still in its developmental stage, and manufacturer Oculus VR doesn’t expect to market it to the public before 2015. For now, the audience will be confined mainly to the 125,000 or so developers and hard-core gamers who own Rift prototypes. (A simpler 2-D version of the farm tour is available on the Register’s web site.)

Still, supporters of virtual reality see it as a technology that’s on the verge of bursting into the mainstream. Facebook acquired Oculus VR earlier this year for about $2 billion, and Sony, Samsung, and Google are among the other companies readying virtual reality headsets.

“All the pieces are there for virtual reality to go over the tipping point from a niche gaming application to mainstream entertainment,” said Geoffrey Long, the Technical Director and a Research Fellow at USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab.

Long and his colleagues are exploring ways that virtual reality could enhance various types of content, including horror movies, TV shows, and documentary films. A former Annenberg Fellow, filmmaker Nonny de la Peña, employs the technology to create “immersive journalism” that allows users to experience such things as a rocket attack in Syria and a long wait for a meal at a Los Angeles food bank.

“Virtual reality offers people the opportunity to put on a headset and look beyond the classic news journalism framing of a shot,” Long said, noting that the technology creates both new narrative possibilities — and new ethical issues — for non-fiction storytellers.

Because virtual reality uses animation to depict real-life scenes, creators can choose what parts of a complicated story to represent and whose field of vision the viewer sees and empathizes with. For example, Long says an immersive re-creation of the Ferguson, Missouri unrest could portray the violence from the point of view of a protester, or create a virtual reality where “you’re a riot cop, and you’re surrounded by people who are screaming at you.”

It also could portray a distorted version of reality that intentionally or unintentionally misleads viewers.

“Imagine if the government were trying to convince the world that Ferguson was just fine,” Long said in a phone interview. “There’s potential for abuse of ‘virtual propaganda.’”


Transformative technology or curiosity?

Not surprisingly, Long predicts that initially, a lot of virtual reality journalism is likely to center around the kind of news topics that also make good video game fodder – such as immersions into war zones.

But Syracuse University Professor Dan Pacheco, who worked as a consultant on the Gannett farm presentation, eventually sees a variety of other uses. He says virtual reality can transform travel reporting, allow journalists to recreate historic events, help science reporters illustrate potential sea level rise, and enable sports fans to “virtually attend” the World Cup or other marquee events.

“This is an area of growth for anybody who’s into storytelling,” Pacheco said in a phone interview. “This is an opportunity to move from storytelling to story experiences.”

Pacheco also sees revenue opportunities in the technology through product placements and other kinds of new virtual ads. That’s not a small consideration for a company like Gannett, which has seen a steady drop in print advertising revenue, recently completed another round of newsroom layoffs, and plans to split its digital and broadcasting divisions from its financially troubled newspaper business next year.

Not all industry observers, though, share Pacheco’s optimism about virtual reality journalism.

“I applaud the forward thinking,” said University of Minnesota Journalism Professor Nora Paul, “but I think this is the kind of thing that’s going to be a curiosity.”

Paul, a former Poynter faculty member, has studied the use of computer games in journalism and says it’s hard to predict whether virtual reality will become an effective way to tell stories. She says previous attempts to marry gaming technology and news storytelling had mixed results.

“Most people felt like putting a game skin on serious news content was a distraction,” Paul said, “and gamers weren’t interested in doing it because it invariably wasn’t a very sophisticated game.”

For now, Gannett says the Des Moines project is a one-time experiment, and the company hasn’t decided whether to do further virtual reality work.

To help gauge reader reaction, Gelman said the Register may hold town hall meetings or other events where Des Moinesers will be able to pass around headsets and experience the farm tour. He said he’s especially interested in hearing feedback on the presentation from the target demographic.

“I learned a lot watching my 10-year-old go through it,” Gelman said.


Note: If you are going to ONA, they will have a session on virtual reality storytelling. Read more


Tallahassee Democrat will retool newsroom, following other Gannett papers

Tallahassee Democrat

The Tallahassee Democrat “could not get where we needed to go by simply tweaking an outdated operation,” Executive Editor Bob Gabordi writes. “So, we called a timeout and a reset.”

As at the Tennessean and other papers that, like the Democrat, are owned by Gannett, the Democrat will retool its newsroom structure.

Fewer people will work locally on production tasks and more will focus on reporting and creating content. We’ll have more people focused on breaking news and important watchdog and investigative reporting.

Staffers will get a list of new jobs this week, Gabordi writes. “We’ll interview them for the new jobs they want in late September and announce results to them – and you – after that.”

The Tennessean announced its “newsroom of the future” last month. Similar changes were due to roll out at four other Gannett papers. The goal was to get to “self-sufficient reporters producing publication-ready copy,” Tennessean Executive Editor Stefanie Murray told Poynter. (The newsroom of the future has about 15 percent fewer employees, The Nashville Scene reported.)

Gannett’s USA Today laid off about 70 employees earlier this month, saying it was “working to align its staffing levels to meet current market conditions.” Gannett plans to spin off its publishing division next year. Read more


Games are serious business at news organizations

Later this month, Gannett plans to debut a page on USA Today’s website with 70 free-to-play games.

The page will include brain training and arcade-style games, said John Geddes, the company’s first director of gaming, entertainment, and events.

“We feel that expanding our portfolio to include titantransline additional popular games such as solitaire, mahjong, and brain teasers is a huge opportunity to not only provide something new for that existing audience but for us to also attract waves of new users,” Geddes said.

Gannett is merely the latest media company to expand its games offerings. Several news organizations have acknowledged the increasing importance of games, whether for storytelling or diversion:

  • The Washington Post has pulled together an in-house team to develop a platform that will allow the newsroom to easily create quizzes, leaderboards and surveys, said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the paper’s managing editor for digital.
  • BuzzFeed — fresh from a $50 million infusion of capital from investment firm Andreessen Horowitz — has has created a small team of developers that will build games to be be paired alongside editorial content.
  • The New York Times recently launched a new mini-crossword puzzle available to non-subscribers and posted a job listing for a software engineer for games.
  • The Associated Press announced in May AP Video Puzzles, which allows users to solve puzzles built from historic videos.

Why all the playing around? Games, with their Facebook and Twitter-ready results, have caught on with users. The New York Times’ most popular piece of content in 2013 was this dialect quiz, which garnered more traffic than breaking coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, news of Pope Francis’ election and a personal column from Angelina Jolie explaining why she decided to undergo mastectomy surgery.

Similarly, Slate’s most popular piece of content to date was The Adele Dazeem Name Generator, which mangled users’ names in the aftermath of John Travolta’s faux pas at the 2014 The Academy Awards.

The market for games in news organizations is getting bigger because of the traffic the games generate, said Jessica Rovello, who cofounded the games company Arkadium in 2001. Arkadium will provide games to Gannett and, Rovello said, works with more than 30 publishers including the Los Angeles Times, CNN and The Washington Post.

“I think it’s expanding for one reason and one reason only: everyone is in an epic battle to acquire and retain users, and these quizzes have proved to be one of the best ways to get these users because they are so shared and so popular on social media,” Rovello said.

Gannett’s expansion into games began after June 2013, when the company created a task force that identified games as an area of growth for the company, Geddes said. He was named director of games strategy later that year. And after the company releases the games on USA Today’s website this month, it will focus on bringing them to other Gannett sites.

The audience for casual games is attractive for a couple reasons, Geddes said. Casual gamers are more likely to spend more time on a website per visit, and they’re more likely to visit the site again in the future. Games with social aspects, such as shareable leaderboards, also have the potential to bring new users into the site.

Further evidence of the rising popularity of games in news can be found at American University, which this year opened a lab devoted to creating games and debuted a master’s degree of game design in persuasive play.

The program’s director, Lindsay Grace, says he’s been approached by roughly one news organization per month seeking to combine games with editorial content since the program began. Non-disclosure agreements prevent him from being specific about the clients he’s working with, but he says the lab has partnerships with news organizations in the works. (Later this month AU is a cosponsor of a “NewsJam” at the Newseum, which aims to “inspire the spirit of political activism and news reporting into games.”)

Grace attributes the recent upswing in the popularity of games and quizzes to a few factors, including the ubiquity of mobile devices and a gradual shift to a culture that views play as productive. Done right, he says, games can also be useful storytelling tools, because they allow audiences to experience information in a new way.

“We process, retain and share experiences differently than reports,” Grace said. “Reports can be very efficient, but they may not have lasting impact. You can receive a report and forget the facts and figures, but an experience lasts in a different way.”

Grace cited two games that are particularly good at driving lessons home: Wired’s “Cutthroat Capitalism” — which explains the bloody economics of Somali piracy by making the user a pirate commander — and The New York Times’ “Gauging your Distraction,” which illustrates the dangers of texting and driving by forcing users to navigate a series of tollbooths while sending text messages. Read more

Facebook and Twitter Applications on Ipad

Times of India publisher to staffers: Give us your social media passwords if you’re posting news

mediawiremorningHey, it’s Tuesday. Media stories coming your way!

  1. Strict, strange social-media policy at Times of India: Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd staffers have been told not to post news stories from their personal social media accounts; instead, they must create company-authorized accounts, according to Quartz India. Even weirder: the company — which publishes The Times of India and The Economic Times — “will possess log-in credentials to such accounts and will be free to post any material to the account without journalists’ knowledge,” Sruthijith KK reports. (Quartz India) | Quartz-related: How often should a site launch a redesign, like Quartz just did? Mario Garcia: “The answer varies, and there is a basic principle I follow: redesign (and/or rethink) when you need it.” (Garcia Media)
  2. NYT’s controversial Michael Brown profile: New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan writes that calling Michael Brown “no angel” in a profile of the 18-year-old killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was “a blunder.” (Public Editor’s Journal) | Times national editor Alison Mitchell told Erik Wemple that the phrase derived from the story’s lead, which told an anecdote about Brown seeing a vision of an angel. (Erik Wemple) | The Times has used the term “no angel” in the past to refer to Al Capone, Whitey Bulger and one of the Columbine killers. (Vanity Fair) | The profile was written by John Eligon. (The New York Times) | Austin Kleon’s “newspaper blackout” poem from Monday:
  3. Facebook cracks down on clickbait: How does Facebook define clickbait? It’s “when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.” (Facebook) | “Algorithm tweaks don’t change the bottom line: Facebook is in charge of what you see,” Mathew Ingram writes. (GigaOm) | Upworthy’s Adam Mordecai is “stoked” about the news. (Twitter) | “We welcome a focus from Facebook on engaged time,” an Upworthy spokesperson told John McDermott. (Digiday) | Previously: Upworthy released code for its “attention minutes” metric meant to go beyond clicks. (Poynter) | Previously: Facebook’s Mike Hudack famously — and ironically? — ranted against the shallowness of U.S. news in May. (Poynter)

  4. How American journalist was released in Syria: Before Peter Theo Curtis was freed on Sunday, Qatar “had been working on the case for months at the request of the Obama administration.” David Bradley, chairman and owner of Atlantic Media Co., and a former FBI agent had traveled to Doha to meet with the Qataris, Adam Goldman and Karen DeYoung report. Officials insist no ransom was paid. (Washington Post)
  5. An ‘emotional cauldron’ after James Foley’s death: “When the press isn’t panicked about the Islamic State, it’s confused,” Jack Shafer writes. “Enemies exist, of course. But boogeymen don’t.” (Reuters)
  6. Ken Doctor on Gannett’s “newsrooms of the future”: “It’s easy to paint the laying off/buying out of veterans as simply getting rid of the digitally clueless. There’s some of that, of course, but this is mainly a financial exercise, as is most of the change we see sweeping the American news industry this year.” (Nieman Lab) | Previously: Gannett exec: Goal of reshuffled newsrooms is to invest “fewest resources necessary in production.” (Poynter)
  7. AP expands food columns: “Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian will join AP’s team of kitchen authorities, taking over ‘The Healthy Plate,’ a weekly column aimed at helping home cooks discover the healthier side of everyday ingredients,” according to a press release. (AP)
  8. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: John Batter will be CEO of Gracenote. Previously, he was CEO of M-GO. (Tech Crunch) | Mark Jurkowitz is the owner of the Outer Banks Sentinel in Nags Head, North Carolina. Previously, he was the associate director of Pew Research Center’s journalism project. (Romenesko) | Jon Ward is a senior political correspondent with Yahoo News. Previously, he was a political reporter for the Huffington Post. (Politico) | Shauna Rempel is now a social media strategist for Global News. Previously, she was social media and technology editor at the Toronto Star. (Muck Rack) | Chris Tisch is now business editor for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, he was assistant metro editor there. (Tampa Bay Times) | Nathan Lump is now editor of Travel and Leisure. Previously, he was director of branded content at Condé Nast. (Time Inc.) | Job of the day: The San Antonio Express-News is looking for a web producer. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would you like this roundup each morning? This week, please email me: You can reach your regular roundup guy at:

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Career Beat: Ryan Tate is named deputy editor for The Intercept

Good morning! Here are some job updates from the journalism community!

  • Becky Bowers will be editor of the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog. She’s currently manager of digital operations for PolitiFact and PunditFact. (@beckybowers)
  • Thomas Claybaugh is now president and publisher for Gannett Central New York Media. Previously, he was general manager of Delmarva Media Group. (Gannett)
  • Terry Horne will be publisher and president for the (Salem, Oregon) Statesman Journal. He was president and publisher of the Pensacola (Florida) News Journal. (Gannett)
  • Jason Leopold will be a reporter at Vice News. Previously, he was a reporter for Al Jazeera America. (Politico)
  • Ryan Tate, Margot Williams and Cora Currier have joined The Intercept. Tate will be the site’s deputy editor. Previously, he was a contributor for Wired and Gawker. Williams will be a research editor. Previously, she was research editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Currier will be a reporter for the site. Formerly, she was a reporting fellow at ProPublica. (The Intercept)
  • Chris Voccio is now publisher of the Niagara Gazette and the Tonawanda News. Previously, he was publisher at the Norwich Bulletin. (Gadsden Times)

Job of the day:The Gaston Gazette is looking for “a reporter who doesn’t bore us.” Don’t be “dull” — get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves:

  Read more

keyboard and hand

Journalists fight directive to write more stories

mediawiremorningGood morning. You have earned the weekend before you. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. BuzzFeeed honcho talks about deleted posts: “[I]f you look at that era of BuzzFeed through the lens of newspaper or magazine journalism, you would say [deleting those posts] was a strange decision,” Jonah Peretti tells Will Oremus. “We just didn’t and don’t look at that period of BuzzFeed as being a journalistic enterprise.” (Slate) | But the posts disappeared this year, when BuzzFeed is a journalistic enterprise. Amy Rose Spiegel‘s February 2013 post “What’s the Deal With Jazz” reappeared after Oremus pointed out it had vanished, too. Editor’s note: “This post has been reinstated after it was brought to our attention that the author deleted it, against our editorial standards.” (Gawker) | Hot J.K. Trotter/Craig Silverman/Mathew Ingram action | Related: Summer Anne Burton talks about BuzzFeed’s new “distributed” division. “I think there’s a good chance that in five to ten years the internet is going to look really different, just like it did five or ten years ago,” she tells Catalina Albeanu. “We just want to figure that out and figure out what people like and people share, and establish an audience in those places and show that we’re the best at making things that people love to share.” ( | “Buzzfeed is creating a team to develop web and mobile games, according to a listing on the company’s jobs site.” (Capital)
  2. Journalists fight directive to write more stories: The Chicago Newspaper Guild has filed a grievance against the Sun-Times Media Group over the Pioneer Press Group’s requirement that its journalists write 2.5 stories per day. (Chicago Newspaper Guild) | “The guidelines explicitly direct managers to exercise reasonable discretion and common sense in dealing with reporters who have provided acceptable reasons for not meeting the daily expectation,” Sun-Times VP for labor relations Ted Rilea says. (Robert Feder)
  3. “Platisher” occasions editor’s note: “Caroline tried very hard to avoid using the word ‘platisher’ in this post, but it really does need to be mentioned here.” (Nieman)
  4. It pays to tweet a lot: Wesley Lowery‘s sudden silence on social media Wednesday night “told those back in the newsroom everything they needed to know.” (The Washington Post) | The Seattle Police Department has asked the public to “Tweet Smart” during emergencies. “When any entity that holds power over us encourages us to limit our expression for any reason, it is probably better for us to err on the side of expressing more than it would want than less,” Mónica Guzmán writes. (GeekWire) | On Ferguson, The Drudge Report went from “harmonious orchestra of dog whistles” to “Big government versus violent protesters.” (The Awl)
  5. Carl Icahn wants a say in how Gannett split occurs: Entities Icahn controls and partners with bought a 6.6 percent stake in the company in the belief its shares “were undervalued and that value could be created by splitting the Issuer into separate print and broadcast companies,” they write in a filing. They want “discussions with representatives of the Issuer’s management and board of directors relating to the planned separation, corporate governance, capitalization and capital allocation.” (SEC) | “We are happy to discuss our plans with Mr. Icahn, as we do with all of our shareholders,” Gannett spokesperson Jeremy Gaines tells Gary Strauss. (USA Today)
  6. Chuck Todd will replace David Gregory on “Meet the Press”: “Todd, for whom the term ‘political junkie’ seems invented, will remain the political director for the network news division, but will give up his mid-morning MSNBC newscast ‘The Daily Rundown.’” (CNN) | “The transition brings Gregory’s time at NBC to a crushing end. ‘Meet the Press’ has seen some of its worst ratings ever during his time as host.” (HuffPost) | “I leave NBC as I came – humbled and grateful.” (@davidgregory)
  7. NYT names Alexandra MacCallum AME for audience development: She’ll report to both Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal. (NYT)
  8. Why can’t Europe build its own Huffington Post? “There is a belief in European media that there is no place for the kind of upstarts that are financed and feted and followed by millions in America,” Paul Rapacioli writes. “But this is quite obviously wrong, as the arrival of Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Business Insider demonstrate.” (StrategyEye)
  9. How did I miss this story? Brian Webb delivers newspapers and magazines to customers of Webb’s of Leverington, a newsstand in Cambridgeshire that he owns. And since March he has delivered letters bearing a “Webb’s Postal Service” stamp at 30p (50 cents) a pop, too. He’s up to 1,000 letters a day. “I’m never going to hurt the Post Office but it has gone so well that it has blown us away,” Webb told Ian Burrell in July. (The Independent, via Steffen Konrath) | “Are you still paying 62p for first class Stamps? our customers pay 30p guaranteed next day delivery” (Webbs of Leverington)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Becky Bowers will be editor of the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog. She’s currently manager of digital operations for PolitiFact and PunditFact. (@beckybowers) | Thomas Claybaugh is now president and publisher for Gannett Central New York Media. Previously, he was general manager of Delmarva Media Group. (Gannett) | Terry Horne will be publisher and president for the (Salem, Oregon) Statesman Journal. He was president and publisher of the Pensacola (Florida) News Journal. (Gannett) | Jason Leopold will be a reporter at Vice News. Previously, he was a reporter for Al Jazeera America. (Politico) | Ryan Tate, Margot Williams and Cora Currier have joined The Intercept. Tate will be the site’s deputy editor. Previously, he was a contributor for Wired and Gawker. Williams will be a research editor. Previously, she was research editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Currier will be a reporter for the site. Formerly, she was a reporting fellow at ProPublica. (The Intercept) | Chris Voccio is now publisher of the Niagara Gazette and the Tonawanda News. Previously, he was publisher at the Norwich Bulletin. Job of the day: The Gaston Gazette is looking for “a reporter who doesn’t bore us.” Don’t be “dull” — get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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Gannett exec: Goal of reshuffled newsrooms is to invest ‘fewest resources necessary in production’

As five Gannett newspapers institute sweeping changes across their newsrooms, the goal is to better attract an audience of 25- to 45-year-olds, a Gannett executive told Poynter via phone.

That means reaching readers beyond print.

Freeing up resources for quality reporting that’s responsive to online audiences will allow the newspapers to be “each community’s top source of investigative journalism, of public-service journalism,” said Kate Marymont, Gannett’s vice president for news. How are these newsrooms able to double down on reporting? “We’re going to invest the fewest resources necessary in production,” she said. Read more

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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, 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:

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