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Need to Know: March 7, 2018

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism


You might have heard: Cox Media put the Austin American-Statesman up for sale in October, saying the sale was part of a “pivot toward markets where Cox has multiple media assets” (Austin American-Statesman)

But did you know: The Austin American-Statesman is being sold to GateHouse for $47.5 million (Austin American-Statesman)
After owning the newspaper for more than 40 years, Cox Media is selling the Austin American-Statesman to GateHouse Media for $47.5 million. The deal is expected to close on April 2, and includes the paper’s Spanish weekly ¡Ahora Sí! and the Austin Community Newspapers group. “During these times of disruption, we feel that [Cox Media Group] is better equipped to operate our newspapers in Atlanta and Dayton, where we also have strong TV and radio operations,” Cox Media president Kim Guthrie says. Once the deal is finalized, the Statesman will be one of GateHouse’s largest newspapers, with a daily circulation of 85,000 and 16,786 digital subscriptions.

+ Cox also put the Palm Beach Post up for sale last fall (Palm Beach Post): Ken Doctor writes that Gannett or Tronc may be likelier buyers for the Palm Beach Post, but GateHouse could win the bidding process as Cox may prefer “one difficult transition rather than two” (Nieman Lab)

+ Noted: A new report from the Women’s Media Center says women of color represent less than 8 percent of U.S. print newsroom employees (Women’s Media Center); The Boston Globe, already one of the most expensive daily regional newspapers, is raising its home delivery prices: One year of 7-day delivery without any discounts would cost $1,347, a “more than an 80 percent hike from the current non-discounted cost” (Boston Business Journal); Penske Media is planning to revive Rolling Stone with a digital overhaul expected to be completed by June and a 20 percent increase in its editorial budget (Vanity Fair); Right-wing journalist Peter Schweizer is planning to release a new film that focuses “on technology companies and their role in filtering the news” (New York Times)


‘The good, the bad and the ugly of launching a paywall in 2018’: Paywalls offer an opportunity for a closer relationship with readers, but creating a successful strategy requires an investment of time and resources (What’s New in Publishing)
As more publishers consider adopting subscription strategies, Chris Sutcliffe offers an overview of the benefits of adding a paywall, as well as the challenges they present. Subscription strategies offer a recurring source of income, as well as an opportunity to build a better relationship with your readers. But, particularly for publishers who have long offered their content for free, they might not be a significant source of revenue for some time, given the resources it takes to craft a successful subscription strategy. And, publishers can expect their audience numbers to decline, given that not all readers have the same willingness to pay.

+  Earlier: Our research into what motivates people to subscribe and how news organizations can reach different kinds of subscribers


Le Monde reduced its ad inventory by 40 percent — and doubled its video ad CPMs (Digiday)
In September, Le Monde got rid of 40 percent of its ad inventory, and lost €800,000 (about $985,000) over the next four months. But it’s already recouped that revenue, and doubled its video ad CPMs. “Our CPMs had been decreasing over time, and we didn’t even know what advertisers were on our sites,” Laurence Bonicalzi Bridier, president of Le Monde’s ad business, MPublicité, explains. “The user experience was a nightmare and not as premium as we want it at Le Monde, so we had to take action.”

+ British publisher Trinity Mirror is rebranding as Reach to “reflect its newfound scale” (The Drum)


‘We need breakthrough business models, not breakthrough technology’ (Fast Company)
Technology isn’t what transforms markets, Volans’ John Elkington and Richard Johnson write: Business models do. “Business models are what connects a technology’s potential with real market needs and consumer demand,” they explain. A business model may address a market’s unmet need, or do something more efficiently than someone who currently controls the market — and those are things that will attract customers, rather than flashy technology. “Business models are they key to determining which technologies take off — and which crash and burn,” Elkington and Johnson write.


‘Advertisers no longer need publishers. Should publishers give up on them?’ (Nieman Lab)
What’s the future of the relationship between publishers and advertisers, and how does that connect to the future of news publishing? A new report released this week by Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the Digital Initiative at Harvard Business School, and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School addresses those questions, summing up an invite-only event held in October. The first step for publishers, the report says, may be figuring out what they want from advertisers: Addressing the academics in the room, one participant said, “Help us have an unbiased perspective around what consumers really want.”

+ Axios’ Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen criticized “the media” for following the Robert Mueller and Sam Nunberg stories in small increments (Washingtonian), but their list of “stories to ignore” included stories that Axios has covered itself (Washington Post)


The rise of daily news podcasts: Serial’s success, followed by Gimlet Media’s replication at scale and NYT’s The Daily, paved the way for the daily news podcast’s success (Wired)
“I used to think that podcasts were a nimble, cheap, democratic alternative to radio,” Felix Salmon writes. “And maybe, once upon a time, they were. But those days are over.” Season 1 of Serial was podcasting’s “first blockbuster,” forcing everyone to rethink how big a podcast could really become. Gimlet Media then tried to replicate that success at scale. And then, The New York Times created its daily news podcast The Daily, with a predictable listener base and regular sponsors. Now, Vox launched its own daily news podcast Today Explained, with a “huge up-front investment” from Midroll and a significant number of employees devoted to the podcast at Vox.

+ Facebook is working on a way to classify satirical news in its feed (Washington Post)

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