McClatchy sees another 10 percent ad revenue decline in 3rd quarter

McClatchy opened the 3rd quarter earnings season for newspaper companies today reporting weak financial results typical of the industry so far this year.

The company recorded a loss of $1.1 million on revenues of $251.2 million. Advertising revenues were off 10.2 percent compared to the same quarter in 2014.

Print revenues fell more than that — though the company no longer breaks them out separately. (Independent forecaster Kantar Media has reported print revenues at local papers like McClatchy’s down 14.9 percent year-to-year in the first half).

Digital ad revenues were up modestly for the quarter as was national advertising.  But the company achieved its roughly break-even result mainly through aggressive cost reductions with operating expenses 7.2 percent less than in the third quarter a year ago. Read more


McClatchy to shutter foreign bureaus in reorganization of D.C. operation

McClatchy’s foreign correspondents are headed to the U.S. as part of a broader restructuring of the Washington, D.C. bureau, the newspaper company announced Monday.

The announcement, made in a memo to editors from McClatchy news chief Anders Gyllenhaal, comes after reports that the company planned to close its foreign bureaus before the end of the year.

No layoffs or buyouts will result from the reorganization, Gyllenhaal told Poynter in an email. Instead, the company’s foreign correspondents will figure into a realigned editorial strategy. International reporting will be project based and less frequent.

In discontinuing its foreign bureaus, McClatchy is scaling back its international coverage in favor of an editorial strategy that emphasizes regional stories and political coverage. As part of the reorganization, McClatchy will organize a “strike force” dedicated to chasing down enterprise stories and establish a database team to work with the company’s various newsrooms, according to the memo. Read more

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Financial maneuvers bring McClatchy share price back up

McClatchy_logo-160x94Typically, having a stock trading at $1.26 a share is not cause for celebration. But when McClatchy stock closed at that level today, it represented a gain of 23.5 percent in the last three trading days.

McClatchy was threatened two weeks ago with delisting on the New York Stock Exchange.  The company responded with two moves that appear to have boosted investor confidence:

  • It authorized a repurchase of up to $15 million of its regularly traded shares (there is a second class of stock controlled by family members that is not affected.)
  • It paid down debt by $22.9 million, further chipping away at the large interest expense that has dragged down earnings for years.

Buying back shares is a slightly arcane practice, essentially a bet by the company that its stock is undervalued.  Read more


McClatchy reports precipitous print ad declines again for second quarter

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

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

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

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


McClatchy’s stock continues to take a pummeling

McClatchy_logoMcClatchy reported a first quarter net operating loss of $11.3 million and more deep declines in print advertising today as its stock continues to takes a pummeling.

McClatchy shares have been trading between $1.50 and $1.60 the last several days. That is about half where they were at the start of 2015, and they have lost roughly three-quarters since this time a year ago.

Wall Street values the company at a market capitalization of $135 million,  That’s less than $5 million per paper in a collection of 29 titles in 28 cities including the Miami Herald, Kansas City Star and Charlotte Observer. (See clarification below.)

Continuing the trend of recent earning reports, print advertising was the problem spot, down 15.7 percent year-to-year with national advertising especially bad, off 25 percent. Read more

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Gyllenhaal: McClatchy reimagines its publishing process

For the past six months, staffers across The McClatchy Company have spent hundreds of hours talking with readers in ways we’ve never done before.

Robin Johnston, design director with the McClatchy Publishing Center, interviews reader Nathaniel Sanders in Raleigh last November. (Photo courtesy of McClatchy Publishing)

Robin Johnston, design director with the McClatchy Publishing Center, interviews reader Nathaniel Sanders in Raleigh last November. (Photo by Joan Barnett Lee/McClatchy)

We’ve asked them to dissect their news habits for us, watched how they viewed videos, probed why they quit a story, read to the end or shared it with others.

In more than a century and a half of publishing, McClatchy, like our peers, has devoted millions of dollars to understanding our print and digital audiences with such standard tools as annual readership surveys and tracking metrics.

And yet, when the company last year began a fresh look at where we’re headed, we concluded that too many of our presumptions were outstripped by the dramatic media shifts of the past few years. Read more

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

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

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

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

  1. Revenue replacement race: Like other companies reporting in recent weeks, McClatchy had even worse print advertising results than expected, could not make them up with other mostly digital ventures and thus continues to shrink. 
Read more

Major news organizations to reveal new freelancer safety guidelines

Freelance journalist James Foley in 2011.  Photograph by Jonathan Pedneault

Freelance journalist James Foley in 2011. Photograph by Jonathan Pedneault

A coalition of prominent news outlets and journalism advocacy groups Thursday will release a set of guidelines at Columbia Journalism School for the protection of freelancers.

The recommendations, which will have the support of several prominent wire service organizations including The Associated Press and the Agence France-Presse, set forth best practices for both freelancers and the news organizations that employ them.

The new directives come amid a perilous time for freelance journalists, said Robert Mahoney, deputy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists. Widespread access to publishing tools has enabled terrorists to spread their messages widely without media organizations, making journalists more valuable to these groups as gruesome spectacles than bearers of witness. And financial setbacks have prompted many news organizations to shutter their foreign bureaus, leaving freelancers to pick up the slack in dangerous regions. Read more


Capital flows like water to media companies (of a certain kind)

December has started with a bang-up ten days financially for some leading American media companies.

Vox announced it has raised another $46.5 million in a new round of venture capital bringing its total valuation to $385 million. CEO Jim Bankoff, in a internal memo he made public, announced ambitious expansion plans for 2015.

Outbrain, a content recommendation/native advertising company, indicated it is tentatively planing an initial public offering early next year, with a target valuation of $1 billion.  (Outbrain, like its biggest competitor Taboola, is Israeli in origin but has moved headquarters to New York and plans to be listed on NASDAQ).

Meanwhile expanding Buzzfeed’s growth continues and its investor valuation stands at $850 million.  Editor Ben Smith was lecturing in Australia late last week as the site announced it has hired a star from Wired to be its Silicon Valley bureau chief and is forming a health and science desk. Read more


A look at 5 successful news partnerships

The Pew Research Center is out today with a new report seeking to define what differentiates effective and sustainable news partnerships from the many that launch with a splash and later quietly fizzle.

At Poynter Online, we regularly report on Pew’s prolific series of studies on digital behavior and news industry trends. There is a twist concerning this particular report, however. In collaboration with Pew Research editors, I wrote it.

So this post is mainly to say, if you are intrigued by the topic, take a look.

partner-site-300Our particular focus was to look at five case studies of collaborations that worked and had staying power. Each was, one way or another, many years in the making.

We were searching for business models and an X factor or two that can be of use as experiments in news partnering enjoy a resurgence. Read more

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