MediaFile

Selling the news: Reuters, the AP and Tribune

We and others reported Monday night that our parent company Thomson Reuters Corp is starting a U.S. general news service for U.S. publishers and broadcasters. Though my employer, Reuters News, has been providing general and business/financial/economic news for more than a century, we didn’t have a service before that would rely on a big group of hired journalists and stringers to get busy covering U.S. news in a large way.

You can see our story here, as well as the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and paidContent.org stories, for more information. One of the interesting aspects that we didn’t get into in our story is one of the reasons that Tribune Co, Reuters America’s first client, decided to work with our parent company.

Here’s Russell Adams’s explanation, taken from The Wall Street Journal:

In a cost-cutting move this past spring, Tribune began producing modules, or ready-made pages, that are filled with news from wires services and its various properties, and printed in multiple papers. Gerould Kern, editor of the Chicago Tribune, said Tribune expects to begin selling the pages to other publishing companies—something Reuters was open to.

“Clients want to be a syndicator of our content,” said Chris Ahearn, president of media for Thomson Reuters.

Audience and the media: a shaky marriage

How can mainstream news organizations retain (or regain) their audience’s trust in skeptical world where almost anyone with an Internet connection can be a publisher? That’s the topic a panel of industry experts will address tonight at the Thomson Reuters heaquarters in Times Square. We’ll be live blogging the event here from 7pm ET.

The panel comprises: Andrew Alexander, ombudsman, The Washington Post; Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor, The Associated Press; Lisa Shepard, ombudsman, National Public Radio; and Dean Wright, global editor of ethics, innovation & news standards, Reuters. Jack Shafer, editor-at-large for Slate, is the moderator.

If you’d like to put a question to the panel, leave it in the comments box below and we’ll ask a selection on your behalf.

Talking with Thomson Reuters chief about print

Covering Thomson Reuters Corp for almost two years has taught me that people like to cast my company in a recurring role in media deal parlor games. Now that the company’s arch-rival Bloomberg LP will buy BusinessWeek magazine from McGraw-Hill, lots of my pals in the media world are wondering: Will Thomson Reuters buy a mainstream news or business news magazine? Or newspaper? Why not Forbes? Why not the Financial Times?

Keep in mind that Thomson Reuters likes to remind people when they ask these questions that Thomson Corp, before buying Reuters, got out of its Canadian newspaper empire for a reason. (See below)

I asked our chief executive, Tom Glocer, a question along these lines on a Thursday phone call he had with reporters to discuss the company’s third-quarter financial results.

Media, tech moguls meet in New York (You are NOT invited)

Media and technology executives are meeting Wednesday and Thursday in New York City at a conference hosted by private equity firm Quadrangle. Note the word private.

When they meet at the Plaza, they will talk about a ton of different things that their customers, their investors and other readers want to know. I have to apologize for them because they’re not letting in any riff-raff. And that includes reporters who get paid to spend all day figuring out how these people decide what kind of entertainment you want, what kind of technology you pay them for and what deals they pursue with the money that you give them when you buy their stock. This event always excludes press, but that’s no reason not to highlight what you probably are missing because of this. After all, who wants to wait for the 8-K filing?

Some press will be allowed, but it will be an assortment of celebrity journalists who will moderate panels and, according to Peter Kafka, author of “MediaMemo” at News Corp’s AllThingsD blog, will not write about the event (I’m talking about Maria Bartiromo and David Faber of CNBC, The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta, etc).

The Wall Street Journal — now for ‘professionals’

The Wall Street Journal, ever on the hunt for new ways to please its readers and new ways to make money (and what, we ask, is wrong with that?), will launch a new, pricier version this November. Called “The Wall Street Journal Professional Edition,” it is designed for business readers who want more than what the daily newspaper and website provide on their own.

Essentially, it is the Journal’s daily offering, with reports from Dow Jones Newswires and a reservoir of news and information from Factiva, the news archive that Dow Jones owns — and a bunch more stuff:

    Information from more than 17,000 global sources, some of which are not available to the public. A one-year archive of Factiva’s global business sources and a two-year archive of wsj.com content. More than 30 industry pages, managed by Dow Jones editors Six industry sections managed by Journal editors who select news and information for readers on pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy, media and marketing, telecommunications and technology. Personalized homepages and news alerts for when things break.

Dow Jones plans to sell the edition to businesses, which would make it available to employees through “site licenses” (ie, your business buys a license that makes the professional edition available to X number of people for a price to be determined). In January, it will be available to people for $49 a month, or just under $600 a year, said Clare Hart, head of Dow Jones’s Enterprise Media Group, which oversees Dow Jones Newswires, Factiva and Dow Jones Indexes.

Is your newsroom ready for the future?

On Tuesday, a panel hosted by Reuters and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers discussed the state of the media industry and the challenges it faces from consumers demanding information in new and different ways.

How could the industry transform its newsrooms to thrive in this culture?

Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times said the key discipline was to constantly ask what the reader actually wants and not what is technologically possible. “This is going to be different for everyone,” Freeland told the crowd, which included Thomson Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger.

For the full discussion, watch the video below.

The panel included
Chrystia Freeland, US managing editor, Financial Times

Larry Ingrassia, business editor, The New York Times

Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs & new media professor, Columbia Journalism School

Les Moonves: No price cuts here!

CBS’s stock may be in the tank (now under $4 a share),  but Chief Executive Les Moonves is still pretty darn optimistic. That may be because his network — home to the “CSI” franchise, “Survivor,” and “The Mentalist” — is the only one of the big four that’s been pulling in more prime-time viewers. For months it has been crushing ABC, NBC, and Fox in the ratings game.

What’s the payoff? CBS won’t have to make wholesale changes to its 2009-10 schedule and should be able to hang on to more advertising dollars than its rivals,  Moonves told an audience at the Deutsche bank Deutsche Bank Annual Media & Telecommunications Conference.

Moonves figures CBS will need to shoot six fewer pilots than it did a year ago, and bring only 2 or 3 new shows to air next season. He also says that with known hits — like “The Mentalist” — and few question marks about its schedule the network should fare well in this spring’s upfront market.

Thomson Reuters CEO: No paper, please

Thomson Reuters Corp, the company that employs me and runs this blog, posted fourth-quarter financial results on Tuesday. My colleague and I wrote them up for the wire, and you can see them here. Meanwhile, here’s something that didn’t make it in to the story that we wanted to share.

During a conference call with reporters, I asked Chief Executive Tom Glocer, who ran Reuters before Thomson Corp bought it, what the company plans to do regarding investing in news. I also asked if the company could ever be in the market for another print newspaper. Remember that Thomson Reuters likes to tout the fact that Thomson Corp long ago got out of the newspaper business, thinking there was more of a future in electronic information that you make people pay a lot of money for.

On news spending:

We’ve continued to invest in news and we think 2009 is a very good year in investment for us both in terms of having brought in some of the journalists who have joined from Thomson Financial, but also investments we’re making in new editorial systems, in the video, multimedia presentation of news. So I think one of the good things about the strength of our financial performance is that we can continue to invest when a lot of pure media companies aren’t.

The (TV ratings) race for the White House

whitehouse.jpg As far as TV ratings go, last week’s presidential debate was a loser, drawing the one of the smaller audiences in modern history. It should be a different story for tonight’s vice-presidential debate.

For one thing, the presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama, which drew just 52 million people, took place on a Friday night, never a great night for TV viewing. By contrast, the match-up between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden comes on a Thursday night, usually a big TV viewing night.

Besides, even though Katie Couric’s interviews with Palin only had a modest impact on CBS News ratings, as the New York Times points out, there is nonetheless a great deal of interest in the Republican vice presidential candidate.      

Real estate ‘synergies’ begin at Thomson Reuters

One of the ways that Thomson Reuters hopes to save money after the merger closed is through real estate sales. In that spirit, it looks like change begins at home, in the city where Thomson Reuters’s world headquarters is located.

Here’s the top of a press release from real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield:

NEW YORK, May 6, 2008 – In one of the largest and most complex transactions completed in Manhattan this year, Cushman & Wakefield announced today that Newsweek has signed a long-term lease for approximately 163,000 square feet at 395 Hudson Street, owned by the New York City District of Carpenters Pension Fund.