Articles about "Rupert Murdoch"


Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 8.24.49 AM

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

Tools:
0 Comments
Tennessean-AP

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

Tools:
2 Comments
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

Tools:
0 Comments
Nelson Mandela

The New Yorker still fact-checks more than you do

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 (or so) media stories.

  1. What happened between NBC News and Ayman Mohyeldin? NBC News said Friday it would return the reporter to Gaza. (HuffPost) | The clumsy move was less a conspiracy than a “news division making mistakes through ratings nervousness.” (CNN) | Here’s a Mohyeldin report from this morning. (NBC News)
  2. The new NewYorker.com launches: “The Web site already publishes fifteen original stories a day. We are promising more, as well as an even greater responsiveness to what is going on in the world.” (The New Yorker) | The publication assigns one fact-checker to its website: “And not to be defensive, but that’s one more fact-checker than probably anyone else has,” Editor David Remnick says. (Capital) | OH NO, A LISTICLE: The New Yorker tweets “eight things we think you’ll love” about the new site. (@NewYorker)
  3. Russian media broadcasts conspiracy theories about downed plane: “The Russian media space has become so uniform and independent voices so cowed and marginalized that there is no counterweight.” (The New Republic) | Russian-government funded English-language network RT reacts to reporter Sara Firth‘s resignation: “apparently we have different definitions of truth” (The Washington Post) | Firth: “I don’t think there are different definitions and versions of the truth.” (CNN) | Propaganda broadcasts in Russia “has become a problem for Putin, because this system cannot be wholly managed.” (The New Yorker)
  4. The New York Daily News is an “insane asylum”: That’s according to photographer David Handschuh, one of the 17 newsroom employees laid off Friday. The paper’s “photo desk was hit particularly hard,” Joe Pompeo reports: “Some sources even wonder if the News might be getting ready to scale back or eventually eliminate its print edition.” (Capital)
  5. How Rupert Murdoch could pay more for Time Warner: Use cash from sale of some German and Italian assets. (Bloomberg) | Henry Blodget: “one of Time Warner’s pieces of logic in saying ‘No thanks’ to the original offer is that two to three down the road, they think there will be many other potential acquirers.” (CNN) | 21st Century Fox has also looked at Scripps Networks and Univision (NYT) | Jack Shafer: “Murdoch looks a lot like the 1990s newspaper publishers who continued to buy other papers on the assumption that the moat…would support their near-monopoly profits infinitely.” But streaming video means “The moat has sprung a leak.” (Reuters)
  6. Cops and security guards hassle BuzzFeed reporter for taking pictures of buildings: Policies that permit photography haven’t quite filtered down to the muscle. (BuzzFeed)
  7. Copy editors aren’t all jazzed about “Weird Al”‘s “Word Crimes” video: “A huge segment of people aren’t viewing it as parody; they appear to be viewing it as their new grammar snob anthem. They’re identifying with feeling superior by calling other people stupid.” (ACES) | Watch the video. (Poynter)
  8. How to keep people on your site in a post-homepage world: Time, NBC News and the Los Angeles Times’ websites have all been “redesigned with an eye toward that second click or page view.” (Poynter) | Related: Yahoo and Say Media are launching “online magazines” to “remind advertisers that these are high-quality, editor-driven products with real audiences, not just listicles.” (Digiday)
  9. Here’s today’s world news, edited by Kristen Hare: Thai journalists want more freedoms, Amy Sawitta Lefevre reported Monday for Reuters. “The military said in an order late last week it could shut down any media that disseminates information that ‘could harm national security’ or criticizes the work of the ruling military council,” Sawitta Lefevre reported. | A journalist with Sky News went through a piece of luggage from the MH17 crash while on air, Catherine Taibi reported Sunday in the Huffington Post. Midway through, Colin Brazier realized that wasn’t a good idea and stopped. | Vox.com has a Twitter list of people covering MH17. (I have a growing list, too.)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Amy Ellis Nutt will head to The Washington Post in September to be a science writer. Formerly, she was an enterprise writer for The (Newark, New Jersey) Star-Ledger. (The Washington Post) | Jason Taylor, president of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has been named the publisher of The (Jackson, Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger. (The Clarion-Ledger) | Paula Faris will be a weekend co-anchor at “Good Morning America.” She was previously an ABC News correspondent. (Paula Faris) | Bianna Golodryga will leave “Good Morning America” to join Katie Couric at Yahoo News, where she’ll help coordinate coverage of daily news as well as major business and finance stories. (Yahoo News) | Natalie Zmuda has been promoted to deputy managing editor at Advertising Age. She was previously a reporter and editor there. (@nzmuda) | Chris Gardner will join The Hollywood Reporter as a staff writer. Formerly, he was a staff editor at Wonderwall/MSN. (Muck Rack) | Nick Ciletti will be a weekend anchor at ABC15 in Phoenix. Formerly, he was an anchor and reporter at NBC2 in southwest Florida. (Nick Ciletti) | Danielle Lerner will be an anchor at NBC2 in Phoenix. Formerly, she was an anchor at KVOA in Tucson, Arizona. (TVSpy) | Job of the day: NPR is looking for a senior digital editor for race, policy and social issues. Get your résumés in! | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

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

Tools:
0 Comments

Murdoch says he won’t buy Tribune papers

Rupert Murdoch tweeted Thursday night that he doesn’t plan to buy Tribune’s newspapers. He cited the FCC’s cross-ownership rules, which forbid the same person or entity from owning a print and a top broadcast property in the same market.

Poynter reported earlier this month that Murdoch’s News Corp was rumored to be assembling a bid for the Tribune Co. papers, which are set to spin off as a separate company next month.

Murdoch also runs 21st Century Fox, which owns and operates stations in several cities that overlap with Tribune papers, including Los Angeles and Chicago.

“I am not sure this amounts to ‘case closed,” Poynter’s Rick Edmonds wrote in an email. “My read is that Mr. Murdoch still wants the L.A. Times, still opposes the cross-ownership ban and might seek an exception or repeal.”

In May, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told broadcasters, “I see no prospect that the FCC will bring all of its media ownership rules into the 21st century in the next couple of years.”

“Any easing of the media ownership rule would face fierce opposition from groups that say too much consolidation threatens a free press,” Amy Chozick reported in March 2013. “If Mr. Murdoch owned a major Hollywood studio and a newspaper known as the paper of record for the entertainment industry, it could spark additional skepticism.” But, she noted, Murdoch received a waiver to own the New York Post and WNYW in New York City. (Tribune has a waiver to own the Chicago Tribune, WGN-TV and WGN-AM.)

Murdoch told Meg James and Nicole Sperling of the Los Angeles Times in January 2013 a deal to buy the L.A. Times “won’t get through with the Democratic administration in place.” Read more

Tools:
0 Comments

Jill Abramson doesn’t return NYT’s email

mediawiremorningGood morning. Almost there. Let’s go. Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch is not giving up, the BBC cuts hundreds of jobs

mediawiremorningGood morning. Let’s do this. Read more

Tools:
3 Comments
AP-US-Rupert-Murdoch-Divorce

Rupert Murdoch bids on Time Warner

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories. Read more

Tools:
4 Comments
Polk Awards

Did the government throw shade on latest Greenwald scoop?

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories. Also, from Sam Kirkland, your digital morning stuff, and from Kristen Hare, a look at journalism outside the U.S.

  1. Did the government try to stink up Glenn Greenwald’s latest story? The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s national president, Samer Khalaf, says “It wasn’t that they were saying it was false. They were saying they can’t respond to a story that wasn’t out yet.” (The Washington Post) | The Intercept “began hearing about Justice Department officials attempting to discredit our story long before that [ADC] meeting took place.” (The Intercept) | Related: Bart Gellman answers objections to his latest NSA story, which he wrote with Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani. (The Washington Post)
  2. Remembering John Seigenthaler, who died Friday: The Tennessean’s package | Former Poynter President Karen Dunlap remembers Seigenthaler. (Poynter) | Poynter will have some more Seigenthaler stuff today.
  3. “You made us proud”: English-language paper in Argentina does defeat well. (Poynter) | North Korea is not telling its people it made the World Cup Final (BuzzFeed) | Sort-of related: The New York Times’ fantastic Saturday sports section front (Deadspin)
  4. New York University is offering a course in videogame journalism: Pulitzers have gone to other areas of cultural coverage, and “History shows that the category does grow and change with the times,” Sig Gissler says. (CJR)
  5. Kent State j-prof seeks hellraisers: “Please, if you can identify a director of a school of journalism who is raising hell about the Obama Administration’s attack on whistleblowers who are so essential in a democracy, please let me know.” (When Journalism Fails)
  6. Michael Wolff on the News Corp./Tribune newspapers rumor: “Mostly, such rumors get started because Murdoch starts them himself.” (USA Today)
  7. 85 percent of USA Today’s stories never see a dead tree: “Reporters have to write 5- and 30-minute stories,” Publisher Larry Kramer tells Leslie Kaufman. (NYT)
  8. It’s just a minor threat? “Data journalism is a sort of journalistic punk of our times.” (EJO)
  9. Newspaper regrets cooking advice: You know that tip about marinating chicken in newspaper bags? Ignore it. (The Morning Call)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Jeff Mason was elected president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He is a White House correspondent for Reuters. (Talking Biz News) | Kevin Martinez will be the publisher of Maxim magazine. Previously, he was the publisher of Details. (New York Post) | Sarah Chassé is a copy editor at Reader’s Digest. She was previously a senior copy editor at Benchmark Education. (Mediabistro) | 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

Tools:
0 Comments
Rupert Murdoch

News Corp. rumored to be putting together a new bid for Tribune newspapers

Rumor has it that News Corp — with a $2.5 billion cash kitty for acquisitions — may be mounting a new bid for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the six other Tribune newspapers.

Rupert Murdoch and his company were first reported interested in the acquisition (in a story in the L.A. Times and elsewhere) when the papers were being shopped in late 2012 and early 2013.

No deal was struck, and last July Tribune announced that it would instead spin off the papers into a new publicly-traded company, Tribune Publishing. Tribune Publishing has recently hired a CEO and other staff, and the split is now scheduled to happen as soon as Aug. 4, but at least within the next several months.

I would not typically report a publishing rumor. This one could prove dead wrong. But a confidential tip that started this inquiry was more substantive than gossip on the street. Various circumstances would make such a deal logical for both buyer and seller.

Robert Willens, a New York-based corporate tax analyst who has previously commented on the spinoff plans, said in a phone interviews that a sale to News Corp would be plausible — but much more likely after the spinoff had been completed. In other words over the next year or two rather than in the next weeks or months.

Spokespersons for both Tribune and News Corp. declined to comment, citing corporate policies not to respond to sale rumors and speculation.  Gary Weitman of Tribune said the company is committed to completing the spinoff (effectively ruling out a sale before).

So why is there reason to think such a deal might happen, later if not sooner?

  • News Corp. is itself a spinoff publishing company, separated from its parent, now renamed 21st Century Fox, in June 2013.  It owns Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal as well Murdoch papers in Great Britain and Australia and the book publisher HarperCollins.
  • The new News Corp. came with a generous cash allocation of roughly $3 billion.  A company that size with that much free cash in hand is under investor pressure to make strategic acquisitions. News Corp. management has indicated it will. So far purchases include social media agency Storyful (in December 2013) and romance novel publisher Harlequin (announced in May), reducing available cash to about $2.5 billion.
  • Questioned by Capital New York in a brief interview at a social event in April, Murdoch said:

    News Corp. is in the first, sort of, transformational year….There’ll be some interesting deals.

    Potential acquisition targets, he added, would likely include both “print and web.”

  • Murdoch is a longtime reader of the Los Angeles Times and, according to a New York Times report, covets owing it.  A purchase, along with the Chicago Tribune, would give News Corp, leading print assets in the three biggest metro markets in the U.S.While the other six papers — The Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, The Hartford Courant, The (Allentown, Pennsylvania) Morning Call and the (Newport News, Virginia) Daily Press — would hold less interest, News Corp. could operate them for a time then sell, as Murdoch did with a group of mid-sized dailies that came with the Dow Jones deal.
  • Recall that Murdoch is willing to pay top dollar for what he wants most.  In his successful 2007 bid for the Journal, he offered the Bancroft family, which controlled the majority of voting shares in Dow Jones, a price roughly 65 percent higher than the stock’s trading value.
  • Tribune Publishing has been valued at $623 million in a 2012 bankruptcy filing.  So it is not too big financially for News Corp. to swallow.
  • Unlike News Corp.with all its cash, Tribune Publishing is being spun off on less than generous terms.  The papers operate profitably but will be assuming $350 million in debt and required to pay rent for its offices to Tribune Company.  And the parent is keeping all the proceeds of the sale of a profitable digital ad site with a second up for sale.

Congressman Henry Waxman, who represents a Los Angeles district, has claimed that the deal terms are setting the newspapers for failure. A well-capitalized buyer could be an attractive alternative.

Tribune’s own announcement and commentary on the deal have highlighted that the publishing assets can be transferred to the new company tax-free.  By contrast, direct sales of all or some of the papers out of the existing Tribune Company would come with a tax liability of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Besides the financial implications, tax consequences are a particularly sensitive consideration at Tribune, which is still sorting out a $200-million plus claim by the IRS related to its sale of Newsday in 2008.

If News Corp were to mount a bid after the spinoff, how soon could that happen? My sense is that a public company cannot be flipped like a real estate asset. Tax analyst Willens told me there is no statutory requirement to wait for a given period, but “if a plan had been agreed to or substantially negotiated” before completion of the spinoff, he said, “that could render it taxable.”

In the earlier attempt to acquire some or all of the Tribune papers, Murdoch faced a deal-killing regulatory barrier.  Under Federal Communications Commission rules, his company could not acquire a paper in Los Angeles or other markets where his Fox News owned local stations.

While Murdoch and other publishers have long tried to get a waiver or repeal of the rule, he told a reporter at the 2013 Golden Globes awards, “it won’t get through with the Democratic administration in place.”

But that was before News Corp’s own corporate split.  Now with newspaper holdings in the publishing spinoff and the local television stations part of 21st Century Fox, it could be argued that the joint ownership rule no longer applies (though Murdoch remains as executive chairman of News Corp. and chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox).

Another open question is whether News Corp., given industry reverses, would make a big investment now in owning more American newspapers.  Asked in a recent conference call with analysts what kind of acquisitions the company was seeking, CEO Robert Thomson replied:

I think it’s fair to say that the two guiding trends of our strategy generally are globalization and digitization. You’ve seen that with the first acquisition, Storyful, which has been very well received, both from an editorial perspective, but not just for our newspapers, from our digital sides particularly, but also from a commercial perspective because Storyful will be able to create content communities around products and companies. And I think you’ll see some of that in coming months. So (as) we said during the Investor Day, globalization and digitization, and that’s very much what the team is doing.

Tribune Publishing does not seem a fit with those goals, and perhaps Murdoch has less latitude to push his personal enthusiasm for print newspapers than he did when News Corp. made its premium bid for Dow Jones seven years ago.

Still the record shows the 83-year-old Murdoch to be persistent in stalking the trophy properties he wants, sometimes over decades. If the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune are still on his list, I wouldn’t bet against his mounting another bid. Read more

Tools:
8 Comments