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.

The future of newspapers via Sam Zell

Sam Zell popped over to CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday to chat about real estate and investment opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. This being MediaFile, we were most interested in what Zell had to say about Tribune Co., the company that he helms and that is currently  slogging its way through a bankruptcy with warring creditors.

Zell didn’t reveal a whole lot when asked about the Chapter 11 process but he did share his thoughts on the future of newspapers and that future involves… PDFs! Zell is pretty sweet on the idea that home delivery will just go away something the  Detroit Free Press and Detroit News semi-embraced more than a year ago.  Instead newspaper subscribers will be able to get electronic versions of the newspapers.

Here’s Zell on what he believes is in store for newspapers:  ”Going forward it’s going to require all kinds of different approaches, including, probably the most significant,  the elimination of home delivery and the replacement of it with PDFs. The iPad  is the real example of almost replicating a newspaper on an instrument. I think that is only the beginning of how that is all going to evolve.”

Friday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories on the media industry:

Movie studios try to harness “Twitter effect” (Reuters)
“Audiences are voicing snap judgments on movies faster and to more people than ever before on Twitter, and their ability to create a box office hit or a flop is forcing major studios to revamp marketing campaigns. The stakes are especially high this summer season when big budget movies like “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which opened on Wednesday, play to a core audience of young, plugged-in moviegoers,” writes Alex Dobuzinskis.

Sun-Times chief optimistic about sale of company (Chicago Tribune)
But, Michael Oneal writes: “In a court filing last week, creditors in the Sun-Times’ bankruptcy case raised concerns about the sale efforts, noting that the company has “limited time” before it “can no longer sustain the losses being incurred from operations.” They warned that unless a buyer is found soon, “time could run out, or a buyer could be located that would only pay a fire-sale price.”

Goldman makes peace with blogger in trademark case (Reuters)
“The agreement required blogger Michael Morgan to post a disclaimer on his goldmansachs666.com website, saying it has no affiliation with the financial firm. Morgan, a Florida investment adviser, uses his blog — whose name combines Goldman’s name with numbers used to evoke connotations with the devil — to criticize the bank and its large profits,” writes Martha Graybow.

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories on the media industry:

‘Tonight Show’ Audience a Decade Younger (NYT)
“In Mr. O’Brien’s first month as host, the median age of “Tonight Show” viewers has fallen by a decade — to 45 from 55, a startling shift in such a short time. This audience composition means advertisers can now address almost exclusively young viewers on “Tonight,” and NBC is already contemplating a shift in how it sells the show,” writes Bill Carter.

Springer’s daily Welt dreams of going international – again (Reuters)

“German publisher Axel Springer plans to launch an international weekly edition of its flagship daily, Die Welt, in a 48-page tabloid format starting February 2010. Springer is still mulling distribution options but the paper will likely be available from airlines,” writes Nicola Leske.

Just the Messenger: Mediaite.com Focuses on Celebrity of Journalism (WP)
On the newly launched website, Howard Kurtz writes: “Mediaite paints with a colorful palette, even if its hues will appeal mainly to journalists and those who obsess over them. By hiring bloggers who worked for Mediabistro and the Huffington Post, Abrams has put together a sassy critique of media missteps and foibles, an overall take not driven mainly by ideology.”

Step aside, here comes Google

Google just keeps on truckin’. The Internet powerhouse posted results yesterday that show advertisers haven’t completely cut their spending — at least not on search.

Excluding one-time charges, profit was $5.10 a share, beating the average analyst forecast of $4.95 according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $5.7 billion — a shadow of the 50 percent growth levels that Google used to enjoy, but considered by analysts to be a robust performance given the weak economy and corporate cutbacks in advertising spending.

Washington Post, Baltimore Sun will share content

The Washington Post and The Sun in nearby Baltimore will share some of their journalism, at least the stuff that they don’t try to kill each other to get first as they compete across the hedgerows and parkways of suburban Maryland. Here are some details from the release, sent out on Tuesday:

The Post and The Sun have agreed to share the newspapers’ day-to-day coverage of certain Maryland news and sports. In addition, The Post and The Sun may draw on each other’s national, international and feature stories that are distributed by the LAT-WP News Service, to which both contribute. The exchanges will allow each paper to take advantage of the other’s strengths and expertise in specific subjects around the region and the world.

As part of this accord, exclusive stories will not usually be shared, nor will coverage of such competitive subjects as Maryland state government and University of Maryland athletics.

Google redefines time (From the UAL files)

Here’s something funny that I found at the bottom of a Google News search results page the other day:

The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program. The time or date displayed reflects when an article was added to Google News.

That sounds like another way of saying that the time and date the story showed up there do not necessarily match the time and date that the story was first published.

It’s budget cutting time

scissors2.jpg

In the media world, it looks like it’s time for a trim. Whether that’s jobs, travel expenses, or anything else, budgets are coming down… With the economy in the sick ward, what did we expect?

Yahoo is among those expected to outline ways to cut expenses, including further job cuts, a source tells Reuters. The announcement will likely come when it reports quarterly results on Tuesday:

The Internet company will discuss the scale and timing of the future layoffs, but specific details on the exact jobs to be eliminated will not be disclosed, the source said.

National Amusements: Time to talk to the bank

redstone2.jpgAnother day, another twist in the latest Sumner Redstone drama. This time, the media mogul’s company, National Amusements, announced that it’s having sit-downs with its lenders over some debt covenants? What are the covenants? And how much debt to they cover? Nobody outside of the company seems quite sure at this point.

What we do know, is that all of this has been caused by the sharp drop in CBS and Viacom shares — since they are worth far less as assets than they were a a month ago, we assume that some debt-to-assets ratio has become a problem.

What does this mean for Viacom and CBS? Not much, in the short term. Stock of both were steady to slightly higher in early trade. But it does underscore what’s at stake for Redstone, and probably turns up the heat on the companies to perform better and get the stock price moving higher.

All eyes on Goldman — the conference, that is

goldman.jpgWe’ll be paying close attention to Goldman Sachs today for reasons other than the wrenching financial crisis. Our interest relates to the investment bank’s Communacopia conference, an annual meeting of some top media players.

Of course, it’s impossible to escape Wall Street’s woes, even at a media conference. After all, there are questions about the ripple effect on the economy — and that includes the advertising business, the bread and butter of media.

We spoke to a number of experts and the consensus was that while financial services make up just 6 percent of advertising spending in the United States, which is no small sum, the bigger issue is the influence that the crisis has on confidence throughout Corporate America. Watching this week’s turmoil, will corporations be as free with spending?