April 25, 2016

Good morning.

  1. Will consolidation continue?

    The unceasing tumult at Tribune Publishing took a dramatic turn Monday as Gannett swooped in with an offer it valued at $815 million for the beleaguered newspaper publisher that owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and nine other major dailies. Such a deal would dramatically consolidate the industry, furthering what has seemed an unavoidable trend.

    The move comes two months after a boardroom coup in which CEO Jack Griffin cut a deal with a Chicago tech mini-mogul, Michael Ferro, to be a primary shareholder — only to see Ferro quickly oust Griffin. Ferro had already gone to work in cutting costs, notably combining the positions of editor and publisher, and seemed to relish his role as executive chairman as he flew by private jet to multiple properties in recent weeks.

    The news was broken by USA TODAY, Gannett’s flagship. It indicated that
    “Gannett CEO Robert Dickey reiterated Monday a private April 12 offer to pay $12.25 per share, a 63% premium to Tribune’s closing stock price last Friday. Gannett’s deal includes assuming $390 million of Tribune’s debt outstanding as of Dec. 31, 2015.”

    That would be about “5.6 times Tribune’s estimated 2016 earnings before interest, taxes and other items (EBITDA). Gannett estimates about $50 million a year in ‘synergies’ savings.” Gannett owns USA TODAY plus 107 local news organizations including the Detroit Free Press, Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, and Arizona Republic. In a press release Monday, Tribune Publishing said its board is reviewing the deal.

  2. Stopping the Donald
    On a slow weekend, the only grist for the media’s political mill seemed the redundant speculation of whom Hillary Clinton might select as a vice president choice. (The New York Times) There have been lists of 18, alleged shortlists, non-news news stories about women actually being on her list, the supposedly real possibility of the first all-female ticket, and then the piece on how seriously she’s supposedly taking the process in The Times. The page-one opus left the impression she might be prematurely spiking the nomination ball on the 5-yard line but was still quickly picked up by others despite its fuzzy sourcing (“Hillary Clinton’s advisers and allies have begun extensive discussions about who should be her running mate…”).

    Well, that was all cast aside with late Sunday word of an “extraordinary” move in which Ted Cruz and John Kasich will focus separately on individual states to derail Donald Trump. (POLITICO) It’s a morning TV producer’s gift from late-night heaven, namely a real story to beat to death. It offered a vision of Cruz and Kasich huddling over some campaign version of a Monopoly board, divvying up the stakes (or states). Kasich does Oregon and New Mexico, Cruz does Indiana. “It’s like sitting in purgatory and saying if I go to church more regularly…,” said MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough this morning, meaning it’s a fool’s errand. David Gregory, revived on CNN after his untidy NBC “Meet the Press” tenure, underscored (as did others) that Indiana would seem key. If Trump wins that, he might effectively “slam the door shut” on the nomination.

    And what were “Fox and Friends” up to? Would you believe live coverage of President Obama from Hannover, Germany, discussing sending troops to Syria to fight ISIS. Yes, still covering the president, explaining a very big and contentious decision (“What’s the endgame?” wondered Tucker Carlson of Fox). Amid the speculative insider political babble from its rivals, good for Fox for briefly reminding that it’s a bigger world out there and the incumbent is still to be reckoned with.

  3. Yahoo bidding process narrows
    Yahoo’s advisers were spending the weekend “narrowing down the field of bidders after receiving more than 10 initial offers for the Internet company ranging from about $4 billion to $8 billion.” The few bigshots include Verizon, but “several first-round bidders will be eliminated to slim down the group.” (Bloomberg) Given the state of Yahoo, it’s unclear if you breathe a sigh of relief if excised from the process.
  4. Times layoffs?
    It wouldn’t be any cataclysmic surprise if it were true. The New York Post reports that the paper is getting read to lay off “a few hundred” staffers in the second half of the year. NPR’s David Folkenflik later reported that New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet says the report is hogwash while acknowledging that there will be shrinkage ultimately in the newsroom. (@davidfolkenflik)
  5. Coding vs. breaking a story
    The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism threw a bunch of questions at 39 selected “news leaders” at 31 different media companies to discern what they’re looking for in hiring. “Coding/development, audience development/user data and metrics, visual storytelling, digital design, and social media distribution were the top five hiring priorities among the newsroom leaders surveyed.” At the same time, they also heard about the need to combine all of these elements. In its methodology section, it also had the candor to concede, “This report is not based on statistically valid survey research.” Hmmmm. In particular, TV news and magazines were underrepresented. (Tow-Knight)
  6. ‘Fair and objective’
    When guys with tons of money buy media concerns and talk about the need for “fair and objective” reporting, watch out. Alibaba, the e-commerce giant, bought the South China Morning Post. Now, in an interview with the paper, chairman Jack Ma says, “Readers have the right to know what’s happening in China in a factual and objective way. I’m lucky that I have the opportunity to travel around the world. The more I come to know about the outside world’s perception of China, the more I feel there are all sorts of misunderstandings and, to a certain extent, people do not get the full picture from the media.” So he’ll bridge a gap of mutual misunderstanding “as a responsible media outlet. What a publication can do is to help people get a clearer picture without jumping to any rash conclusion.” Let’s see whether or not he winds up shilling for the Chinese government. (Malaysia Chronicle)
  7. The immaculately conceived tweet
    Amid lengthy primetime host duties after Prince’s death, Anderson Cooper found time to tweet a photo of a nude male painting. Or, somebody else did using his account. (Mediaite) He hadn’t done much tweeting that day but responded to folks by saying, “That was weird…Got sent a bunch of images of artworks coming up at auction…Not sure how it got tweeted out.” As “Saturday Night Live” alums Seth Meyer and Amy Poehler used to say during “Weekend Update,” “REALLY?!”
  8. TIME’s national debt cover
    The debt’s now nearly $14 trillion and, in its cover tale, the magazine says, “Dear Reader: You owe $42,998.12.” Some academics weren’t enthralled, including Adam Seth Levine of Cornell and John Sides of George Washington University. Writing in the Monkey Cage blog that Sides oversees, the duo maintains, “This type of frame has been used many times to animate concern about the national debt. There are two problems with this frame, however. The first is that it’s misleading. The second, which is our focus, is different: If the goal is to get people to pay attention, it’s likely ineffective.” (Monkey Cage)
  9. Credit where credit’s due
    Dallas Morning News sports editor Damon Marx took a photo of opposing players Justin Anderson and Kevin Durant shaking hands after a Dallas-Oklahoma City NBA playoff game in which Durant was booted for bashing Anderson in the face. It happened as they were reunited with their high school coach. ESPN’s Chris Broussard took a screenshot of Marx’s photo and tweeted it out as his own. (Deadspin) “Six hours later, Broussard decided to tweet out credit for the shot, but left his original tweet up. The retweet button, Chris: ask your sources how to use it.”
  10. Prince’s finale
    Video of Prince performing “Purple Rain” at his last show in Atlanta surfaced last week. Now Soundcloud surfaces with a recording of the entire show. (Soundcloud) Meanwhile, TMZ, which broke the story of his death, offers somewhat fuzzy attribution as it claims disarray with his business affairs prior to his death. It’s also “told reports of the singer’s fortune being close to $300 million are inflated, and it’s probably closer to half that.” (TMZ)
  11. Joan Rivers redux
    For those unfamiliar with Emily Nussbaum, who just won a Pulitzer Prize for her New Yorker TV commentary, it’s good they’re re-running online a 2015 profile of Joan Rivers. “Her flamboyant self-hatred made possible this generation’s flamboyant self-love, set the groundwork for the crazy profusion of female comics on TV these days, on cable and network, cheerleading one another, collaborating and producing and working in teams, as if women weren’t enemies at all.” (The New Yorker)
  12. A gadget blog hosted on a Facebook page
    “First, the new: A new outlet, called Circuit Breaker, will begin publishing on Monday, primarily as a Facebook page, not a separate website, a first for Vox Media. Now the old: Circuit Breaker will be, in the words of The Verge’s editor, Nilay Patel, a ‘classic gadget blog,’ one that publishes news and gossip about technology products at a frenetic pace.” (The New York Times)
  13. R.I.P.
    Steve Julian, the host of Los Angeles public radio KPCC’s “Morning Edition” since 200, has died from brain cancer. He was 57. (KPCC) He started in broadcasting, then followed the footsteps of his dad and became a cop and later returned to broadcasting.
  14. Obama and Rowling break bread
    So what did President Obama and J.K. Rowling discuss over dinner in London Saturday? Here’s one guess: “Was Voldemort inspired by Adolf Hitler, or Donald Trump? What house would Obama be assigned to? What is Grawp’s real name and does he have a birth certificate? Can house elves unionize? How do the politics at the Ministry of Magic break down? Is Harry still a virgin?” (Gawker)

    Corrections? Tips? Please email me: jwarren@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.

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New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S.…
James Warren

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