MediaFile

New York Times job cuts: Read the memo

The New York Times will cut 100 positions in its newsroom by the end of the year, Executive Editor Bill Keller told staff on Monday. This is the second time that the paper has taken this unfortunate step, having cut 100 positions last year (though, as Richard Perez-Pena reported in his story on nytimes.com, other positions were added so it was not a net reduction). Thing is, the TImes already cut pay for journalists and other employees this year in an attempt to forestall cuts. So… it’s not good news, but it is fit to print. Here is Keller’s memo:

Colleagues,

I had planned to invite you to the newsroom and break this news in person today, but I’ve been hit by something that seems to be the flu. Though I strongly believe in delivering bad news in person, I don’t want to add insult to injury by spreading infection.

Let me cut to the chase: We have been told to reduce the newsroom by 100 positions between now and the end of the year.

We hope to accomplish this by offering voluntary buyouts. On Thursday, the Company will be sending buyout offers to everyone in the newsroom. Getting a buyout package does NOT mean we want you to leave. It is simply easier to send the envelopes to everyone. If you think a buyout may be right for you, you have up to 45 days to decide whether you will accept it or not.

As before, if we do not reach 100 positions through buyouts, we will be forced to go to layoffs. I hope that won’t happen, but it might.

Thanksgiving: Cook a turkey, buy a newspaper

Thanksgiving thank-you lists can get pretty lengthy. This year, add a newspaper to the things you’re thankful for. That, more or less, is the message that the Newspaper Association of America is delivering in an advertisement that it hopes daily papers will run this coming Monday. The ad will appear a week before the Audit Bureau of Circulations publishes its latest circulation statistics for North American newspapers.

As USA Today has already said, and other insiders have told us, circulation is going to fall compared with last year — and those declines at many papers likely will be worse than usual. That’s the kind of thing that advertisers don’t like to hear, and one of the reasons that they are devoting their dollars in increasing amounts to other media. But as the NAA will remind people, some of that sentiment might be misplaced. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the ad.

At Chicago Sun-Times, portrait of a newspaper investor

It’s not every day that you get people who are anxious to tell you that they’re investing in newspapers, that great industry sector that took a swan dive into an empty swimming pool over the past couple years. Private equity firms that are getting into that game again are just that — PRIVATE.

The latest buyers of the Chicago Sun-Times and parent company Sun-Times Media Group identified themselves on Friday, however, and we’d like to share their names with you too. Good luck with the newspaper game.

    Jim Tyree, Chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial, Managing Member, Sun-Times Media Holdings, LLC Andrew Agostini, Principal and Owner, J.L. Woode Ltd. Kevin Flynn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Emerald Ventures, Inc. Ed Heil, Investor and Entrepreneur Michael Mackey, Senior Managing Director, Insurance Services, Mesirow Financial William Parrillo and Robert Parrillo, Private Investors Richard Price, President and Chief Operating Officer, Mesirow Financial Ed Ross, Principal and Owner, J.L. Woode Ltd. W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz, President, Wirtz Corporation Bruce Young, Vice Chairman, Mesirow Financial

The Sun-Times’s website, by the way, has some mugshots. The rival Chicago Tribune tells us that the list is “studded with colorful Chicagoans.” Hopefully Saturday’s newspaper story will say why they are. I’m not a Chicagoan myself, so I’m relying on you readers to tell us why these people are colorful.

Wall Street Journal vs USA Today — Part II

Earlier this week I brought you the brewing circulation tussle between USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, and which paper will be able to claim to be the largest one in terms of circulation. You can read that here, but for the recap, here are the main points:

    Editor & Publisher reports: USA Today was set to report that circulation fell “17% to 1.88 million for the six months ending September 2009, a drop of about 390,000 copies. The decline could also threaten USA Today’s position as the No. 1 newspaper in the country by circulation.” The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press report that the Journal would be the largest paper by circulation, according to the Journal. USA Today responds, “We are confident that even with this latest economic impact, USA TODAY will remain the nation’s number one newspaper in total print circulation when the ABC statements are released October 26th.”

As I wrote at the time, it seems that the Journal is counting print and online subscriptions together, and why not? Both are made up of paying subscribers. USA Today, of course, is counting printed newspapers.

We won’t know until their circulation numbers are published on October 26 what the final, comparable figures would be. But today, the Journal revealed its latest numbers:

Target makes the scene with a magazine

You know how it is when you take a trip to Target: You’re going to buy just that ONE THING that you need, and you’re going to keep it cheap. As you leave the store, you wonder how you dropped hundreds of dollars on things that you didn’t realize you needed until you walked into the store.

Target is hoping to spawn a similar phenomenon on its website, where it has begun offering a magazine newsstand. Rather than starting from scratch, it has signed on Zinio, a digital publishing company that offers magazines and books from more than 350 publishers.

Zinio will sell electronic versions of magazines on a page on Target’s website, either as single editions of current and older issues, or as annual subscriptions – usually at a discount. People can read them in a Web browser version or through an application that Zinio offers for download. This is similar to what they’ve done on other websites, like the one operated by Barnes & Noble.

WSJ vs USA Today: Who has the biggest paper?

USA Today and The Wall Street Journal aren’t waiting for Oct. 26, the day North American newspapers report their latest circulation numbers, to begin tussling over which one has the biggest paper.

Editor & Publisher made the first move on Friday when Jennifer Saba reported that USA Today was set to report that circulation fell “17% to 1.88 million for the six months ending September 2009, a drop of about 390,000 copies. The decline could also threaten USA Today’s position as the No. 1 newspaper in the country by circulation.” The news came in a memo from USA Today Publisher, David Hunke, to his workers.

Spicy stuff, considering that when we write about its owner, Gannett, we say it is the largest U.S. newspaper publisher that publishes USA Today, the largest newspaper by circulation.

Rupert Murdoch: You call it free news, I call you ‘kleptomaniac’

Lest anyone doubt the thrust of Rupert Murdoch’s speech on Thursday (or was it Friday? I’m losing track of time zones) at the World Media Summit in Beijing, it was all about paying for news — as in: You’re going to pay for news, and if you think it shouldn’t cost you anything, you’re a “flat-earther” and a “kleptomaniac.”

For those of you accustomed to the News Corp CEO’s occasional verbal ramblings and hints of ghosts of suggestions, this was a departure. He has gone on the record in great detail about his thoughts regarding paid news, but this is the first time that I recall him using fightin’ words like “flat-earther.”

Murdoch also “urged the Chinese government to take full advantage of the country’s creative potential by opening the door to media competition and ensuring that intellectual property is protected,” according to the speech and the press release, but let’s be clear — the message that resonated was: “You’re going to pay for news as long as we need to pay people to report it.”

From the desk of [your news outlet] and Scribd

The words “Document-sharing website” probably won’t thrill too many people who aren’t stationery geeks. Nevertheless, one such website, Scribd.com, has released a new feature that could make online news reporting a more interesting experience for the journalists and the readers.

But first, a dose of background: Scribd is a website that lets you do all sorts of things in publishing, including selling electronic copies of books. Some of us at Media File use it for a different purpose: embedding documents related to our reporting inside blog posts. See this blog post I wrote about pharmaceutical company Mylan’s legal tussle with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At the bottom of the page, you can see the legal documents that I wrote about in the blog post and posted by using Scribd.

On Wednesday, Scribd said news outlets The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Mediabistro will use Scribd’s document reader on their sites in the same kinds of ways that I used it on Media File.

Internet advertising: How high can video go?

I didn’t get a chance to look at these numbers on Internet advertising that PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau released on Monday, thanks to being on a late shift and having plenty of news to shovel through thanks to Conde Nast. I glanced at them on Tuesday, however, and here’s what I seized on in the press release:

    U.S. Internet advertising revenue in the first half of the year was $10.9 billion, down 5.3 percent from last year’s first half. Search and display-related advertising continue to represent the largest percentages of overall interactive advertising spend. Search revenues amounted to more than $5.1 billion for the first six months of 2009, up slightly from that same period in 2008. Display-related advertising—which includes display ads, rich media, digital video and sponsorship—totaled nearly $3.8 billion in the first six months of 2009, showing a relatively modest 1.1 percent decline from the same period in 2008. Digital video continues to experience robust growth with a 38 percent increase from the first half of 2008. And this quote: “While the overall advertising market has continued to be impacted by current economic conditions, marketers are allocating more of their dollars to digital media for its accountability and because consumers are spending more of their leisure time online,” said David Silverman, PwC Assurance partner.

The video section is what caught my attention. I’m one of those people who is perpetually fascinated by the faith that people put in Internet video. Newspaper websites want to do more of it, and everyone else seems to be interested too. The idea, they say, is that video is an ever-more popular way to give people news, ads and what-have-you in a format that modern audiences want.

Maybe I’m antediluvian because I’m 36 years old, but it seems to me that pursuing video just so you can say you’re modern doesn’t seem like it’s going to meet the tastes of most of the Internet audience. Video can be distracting and time-consuming. Yet, more ad dollars are going to it. How popular is video online really? I mean, when it comes to news and ads. Am I completely wrong about this, or is video going to remain a small part of the ad revenue pie?

Welcome to Turkey, Bloomberg ‘efendim’

It always makes me happy when one of the companies on my beat reminds me that I study Turkish for at least one practical reason. In this case, it’s our rival wire service Bloomberg, which will start broadcasting news in Turkey through local partner Ciner Media. Pronounced, more or less, “Jiner Media,” the company also publishes magazines in Turkey that include Marie Claire, Newsweek Turkey, OK! and GEO.The service will be called BloombergHT for “Haber Turk,” which translates to, “Turkish News.” The service will be a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week Turkish language financial news and business channel that will broadcast on cable and satellite in Turkey and “Turkish Republics.” I have to find out what that means, but I’m guessing it means parts of Central Asia where Turkic languages are spoken.The launch will come later this year, Bloomberg said in a statement on Tuesday. It also said that Bloomberg will retain editorial control over the channel’s business content and will provide Ciner Media with access to the Bloomberg news service and that a website will follow.This news comes months after Bloomberg held a rare round of layoffs and laid out plans to shut down some of its non-English-language TV operations around the world. Bloomberg, as we and others have reported, has been working to broaden its worldwide reach. The company, I have heard from people familiar with its thinking and also from employees, wants to raise its profile outside its hardcore financial industry subscribers and is trying to offer more news to a bigger audience to do it. Pursuing BusinessWeek is one way to do it. Another would be forging more deals like the one in Turkey — let someone else handle the distribution, and you just focus on the news. We might see more of these deals soon.UPDATE: While I’ve been obsessing over whether I’ll get to play Peter Ustinov’s part in a remake of Topkapi, Business Insider noticed some substantial changes on Bloomberg TV’s presentation for the rest of the world. In the world of financial journalism, less really is more, apparently.PS: Efendi = “lord” or “master” or a general “sir” might even do these days. “Efendim” = “My lord,” etc. and is a common form of address. For example, you might call me “Robert efendim.” Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.(Reuters Photo: Istanbul)