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A year of upheaval for the news media industry – Axios



Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

2019 was a transformative year for the U.S. news media industry, but it was also one of the most turbulent points in its history.

The big picture: There were enormous business challenges, which resulted in an unprecedented number of layoffs, desperate product maneuvers and fire-sale deals.

Driving the news: The impeachment of President Trump by the House of Representatives on Thursday was prompted by a whistleblower’s complaint, but the stage was set by the dogged reporting of many journalists across the country.

  • But despite those efforts, the economic outlook of the news industry is still grim heading into 2020.
  • The impeachment process has proven that voters are starting to tune out political coverage, which for the past few years has been the news industry’s biggest money-maker. That reality, coupled with an anticipated recession, has newsrooms on edge.

Where things stand: 2019 was a particularly brutal year for older news industries, like newspapers, magazines, television and radio. Revenue for television was down nearly 4% this year, and for print it was down nearly 20%.

  • Legacy magazine brands that were once considered must-reads, like Sports Illustrated, struggled to find suitors. Magazine titans like Conde Nast are expected to miss their revenue numbers given a bleak advertising forecast.
  • Univision, one of the largest media companies that serves America’s fastest-growing population, is looking for a buyer to help it crawl out of a massive debt hole, driven by a private equity investment gone bad.

Be smart: Legacy industries still continue to serve local news markets, which are mostly void of the same investments financially, and in tech and talent, as national outlets.

  • The two biggest local newspaper holding groups — New Media (GateHouse and Gannett) and McClatchy, which collectively house over 700 newspapers — had a combined market cap value as of Thursday of less than $400 million. By comparison, Apple, which this year launched its own news product, is worth more than $1.2 trillion.
  • Meanwhile, several other papers serving major markets closed, like the 150-year-old Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio and the beloved OC Weekly in California.

Regulators, aware of the realities that legacy industries and local media face in a digital world, continued efforts to level the playing field this year, mostly by trying to roll back decades-old rules and legal agreements that may be keeping them from growing.

  • But their efforts have proven mostly moot, as most consumers have already migrated away from those mediums to a handful of apps owned by Silicon Valley titans.
  • Policymakers did began to more meaningfully consider regulating internet giants in 2019, but a gridlocked Congress and powerful lobbying forces have so far prevented any meaningful internet regulation from getting passed.

In the markets, a string of highly-anticipated IPOs faltered in 2019, which forced investors in private media companies to push for quicker paths to profit.

  • Given that news is traditionally a slow-growth business, many desperate efforts to make money quickly, like launching half-baked subscription or video products, fell short. 
  • For some media upstarts, that pressure proved perilous. Splinter, the left-leaning news and opinion site, shut down this year after its parent company, G/O Media, was purchased by a private equity company for less than half of what it was worth just three years earlier.
  • Its sister company, Deadspin, is now essentially defunct.

The big picture: As a result of these realities, investor sentiment in digital media has begun to slip, and investments in the sector are predicted to decline in the next decade.

  • That matters because over the past few years, private investment into media companies soared, at all levels.
  • Many of the venture-backed media companies that were expected to go public eventually, like Buzzfeed and Vice Media, no longer seem heading in that direction. Disney this year wrote down all of the $400 million it invested in Vice.

Between the lines: These challenges took a human toll on journalists and news industry employees around the country. By some estimates, nearly 8,000 people were laid off or lost their jobs in media in 2019. That level of attrition is on pace to be the highest it’s been since the 2009 recession.

Yes, but: The challenges that most media companies face have forced them to innovate faster, and in many cases, reach new heights.

  • Most media companies distribute content to far more people than ever before through dozens of new channels ranging from Netflix to TikTok.
  • Many broke stories this year that will define our generation, like The Washington Post’s investigation into the decades-long lies told by officials about the war in Afghanistan or The Miami Herald’s explosive reporting about Jeffrey Epstein.

The bottom line: But despite those feats, news media companies as a whole have mostly suffered — and there’s no sign that the economic outlook is going to get better any time soon.

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'It's just a piece of fabric': Misinformation, media distrust fuelling anti-mask movement, Sask. professor says – CTV News



A distrust of mainstream media and reliance on social media for news is fueling the anti-mask movement, according to a professor at the University of Regina.

“The answer seems to be that people are getting junk information, basically, and probably from social media and that’s driving a lot of what’s going on,” Gordon Pennycook, a behavioural science associate professor at the University of Regina, said.

The anti-mask movement has grown in Saskatchewan over the past few months, despite push back from the Premier and the province’s Chief Medical Health Officer.

“There should be no stigma as to whether someone is wearing a mask or isn’t wearing a mask,” Premier Scott Moe said on Wednesday.

Moe proclaimed the COVID-19 pandemic “is real” during Tuesday’s COVID-19 provincial update, seven months into the fight against the virus.

Anti-mask protests have become common in cities across Saskatchewan in recent months. The No Masks Saskatchewan Facebook group has grown to more than 2,900 members since it was created a month ago.

Pennycook said people joining this group aren’t willing to listen to facts about masks.

“There’s room for reasonable behaviour, but that’s different than joining a Facebook group that’s specifically associated with not liking masks, which is kind of a weird thing to care about, it’s just a piece of fabric over your face,” he said.

CTV News reached out to the creator of the Facebook group for comment, but didn’t receive a response.

Pennycook added Saskatchewan avoiding being hard hit by the initial wave of COVID-19 compared to other parts of Canada and the United States is contributing to people not taking the virus seriously.

“The extent to which people think it’s a serious problem is going to have a huge impact on whether they think masks are effective,” he said.

While the anti-mask movement is vocal, Pennycook doesn’t believe it will spread out of its small portion of the population.

“It’s a pretty small portion of the population that actually has these views,” he said. “The average person is fairly reasonable, they know it’s a mask, there’s a pandemic, it’s not a big deal.”

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InvestorChannel's Media Watchlist Update for Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 16:30 EST – InvestorIntel




InvestorChannel’s Media Stocks Watchlist Update video includes the Top 5 Performers of the Day, and a performance review of the companies InvestorChannel is following in the sector.
Sources Include: Yahoo Finance, AlphaVantage FinnHub & CSE.
For more information, visit us at or email us at [email protected]

Watchlist Companies:
– Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc. (TBRD.V) CAD 1.95 (2.63%)
– Zoom Video Communications Inc. (ZM) USD 500.53 (1.61%)
– HubSpot, Inc. (HUBS) USD 283.17 (0.35%)
– Glacier Media Inc. (GVC.TO) CAD 0.23 (0.0%)
– GVIC Communications Corp. (GCT.TO) CAD 0.15 (0.0%)
– Lingo Media Corporation (LM.V) CAD 0.07 (0.0%)
– Moovly Media Inc. (MVY.V) CAD 0.08 (0.0%)
– Postmedia Network Canada Corp. (PNC-A.TO) CAD 1.60 (0.0%)
– Quizam Media Corporation (QQ.CN) CAD 0.49 (0.0%)
– WOW! Unlimited Media Inc. (WOW.V) CAD 0.36 (0.0%)
– ZoomerMedia Limited (ZUM.V) CAD 0.07 (0.0%)
– Slack Technologies Inc. (WORK) USD 26.37 (-0.15%)
– Stingray Group Inc. (RAY-A.TO) CAD 5.37 (-0.19%)
– Adobe Inc. (ADBE) USD 470.39 (-3.37%)
– Ltd. (WIX) USD 250.22 (-3.49%)
– MediaValet Inc. (MVP.V) CAD 2.01 (-4.29%)
– Corus Entertainment Inc. (CJR-B.TO) CAD 2.79 (-4.78%)
– Network Media Group Inc. (NTE.V) CAD 0.13 (-7.14%)
– QYOU Media Inc. (QYOU.V) CAD 0.06 (-7.69%)
– Media Central Corporation Inc. (FLYY.CN) CAD 0.01 (-33.33%)


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The Organizational Obstacles Of In-Housing Media – Forbes



The actuality of an in-house digital media operation is fraught with organizational, technological and cultural challenges. Any business leader considering establishing or expanding a digital media operation should understand the obstacles before committing. 

Ever since the release of ANA’s K2 report on media transparency, marketers and firms have looked for better mechanisms to control their media. For ambitious companies, the desire for more impact has led some to in-house media. The prospect of an in-house team of media-savvy professionals maximizing the firms’ buying power in programmatic is the dream of many senior executives. For instance, 46% of media and marketing decision-makers tell us they pursued an in-house solution “to have more control over our paid media investments.” However, the actuality of an in-house digital media operation is fraught with organizational, technological and cultural challenges. Any business leader considering establishing or expanding a digital media operation should understand the obstacles before committing. 

Setting internal expectations that transformational results take commitment is critical. 

Firms accustomed to focusing solely on maintaining short-term performance must now also balance long-term transformation. An internal media group delivers a long-term, strategic advantage. Yet, strategic investments will come proofs of concept, capital investments for headcount and reorganizations. This will require you to prepare the organization for a new way of working and new responsibilities. Don’t allow yourself or others to be carried away by the promise of immediate cost savings and increased performance. Those benefits come over time. 

Finding and satisfying the high expectations of rarefied media talent is arduous. 

Organizations taking advantage of abundant creative and production talent to in source creative services face a highly competitive and fluid digital media talent market. There’s a good reason why 95% of all in-house agencies offer creative services and only 19% offer programmatic media. Digital media, data science and strategy talent are highly sought-after. The meteoric rise of BIG tech gives those firms the resources and reputation to out-recruit. Retention is another matter. The best talent on the market requires career paths, advancement and personal development. Consequently, your ability to recruit and retain talent has less to do with media and more with corporate culture. The sacred cows will either need to step aside or give you the heavy air cover required to effect change. 

Aligning the organization to partners’ payment terms causes friction. 

Companies enjoying 90- and 120-day (or longer) payment terms with their agencies will experience a rude awakening with the 30- and 60-day payment terms that publishers demand. Your finance department will need to write hundreds and thousands of checks in much shorter cycles. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves to achieve this. As discussed, you’ll need the cooperation and buy-in from the top to alter the institutional mindset. 

Establishing short- and long-term partner rules of engagement sparks anxiety. 

CMOs and marketers will find themselves mired in an agency melee while they determine the best agency partner(s) to assist in transitioning responsibility and collaborating with the new in-house operation in whatever form it takes. This will make your agency nervous and reluctant to cooperate. However, even the most sophisticated in-house media operations rely on partners. Balancing the new reality with your established partners is necessary. You both need one another. Plan for the future relationship by outlining clear rules of engagement, roles and responsibilities. 

Successfully in sourcing portions of your media operation results in structural complexity, as there’s no single universally adopted or agreed-upon approach. The first step is understanding how to get the organization ready to do things differently – from HR to operations to finance. Next, you’ll need to identify the right model to organize the necessary functions of media: strategy, execution, technology and data. Lastly, you need a playbook for establishing or expanding your team.  

This post was written by Principal Analyst Jay Pattisall and VP and Principal Analyst Joanna O’Connell, and it originally appeared here.

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