Robert's Feed
Oct 13, 2009
via MediaFile

Target makes the scene with a magazine

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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.Yes, you can already look at online versions of magazines, Zinio Chief Executive Richard Maggiotto said in an interview. This is different, however, he said: “It’s a high-fidelity, robust magazine.” In other words, these titles, ranging from Elle to Woman’s Day to Seventeen, are meant to look — if not feel — like the print magazines they are replacing. Zinio and Target will share the revenue they get from each sale.Maggiotto declined to reveal specific goals, but said that he would be happy to see 1,000 or more new subscriptions (a month) come in during the first year of the Target partnership. So far, he said, Zinio sees about 60 percent of its magazine sales coming from archival or current issue sales, and about 40 percent from subscriptions.This might not be such big news on most other days, but it is coming after some cataclysmic events transpired in the magazine industry. With ad sales suffering, big publishers such as Conde Nast are cutting workers and titles, making some media experts wonder whether the good times are over forever. Digital revenue has failed to make up for print revenue losses, just like in the newspaper world. But every little bit helps, right? Apparently so. Maggiotto would not say who Zinio’s next partners are, but said that “there are 10 more in the queue.”(PS: Apologies to Tom Waits for stealing one of his lyrics for the sake of a headline. It’s from “Nighthawks at the Diner.” The photo is all Reuters)

Oct 11, 2009
via MediaFile

WSJ vs USA Today: Who has the biggest paper?

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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.The Wall Street Journal’s Shira Ovide wrote up the news too, adding this: “After USA Today’s memo, the Journal said it is now the largest U.S. newspaper by weekday circulation.” Andrew Vanacore at The Associated Press, featured the Jornal echoing that statement: “Dow Jones, the Journal’s parent company, declined to give out the newspaper’s circulation figures for the period, but spokesman Robert Christie said, ‘The Journal is now the largest newspaper by circulation.’”We wrote up the story too, going along the same lines. The next day, however, we got this statement from USA Today’s communications vp Ed Cassidy – a bit too late to run it as an update to our old story. Still, it piqued my interest in a big way because it doesn’t go along with the lines of what we reported earlier:

We are confident that even with this latest economic impact, USA TODAY will remain the nation’s number one newpsaper in total print circulation when the ABC statements are released October 26th.

So how do we figure this? It’s hard to conclude when the numbers haven’t come out yet. I suspect that both papers can make the claim to be No. 1 because the Journal is counting copies to subscribers who get only the online edition as adding to the total number of print subscribers. Newspaper publishers argue over whether those copies “count,” but it seems like they should considering that people pay for Web access in the same way that they do for print.Or am I wrong? Should circulation — a key measure for businesses of whether and how much to spend on advertising in newspapers — not count online subscriptions? I’m all ears.(Reuters photo: The Wall Street Journal)

Oct 7, 2009
via MediaFile

From the desk of [your news outlet] and Scribd

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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.Scribd is letting the sites use it for free, sensing what advertisers and publicists like to call a “branding opportunity.” The reader would include Scribd’s name on it, but also the name of the media outlet in question. Think of your personal notepaper that reads, “From the desk of…” at the top.Here’s more from Scribd’s press release:The document reader turns nearly all file types — including PDF, Word and PowerPoint — into a Web document that can be shared on Scribd.com and any website that allows embeds. It can help news organizations:

    Embed documents in news stories and add transparency to the reporting process Increase people’s time spent reading each story Increase brand recognition on and off their website through logos on the reader Retain attribution for original document uploads, regardless of where the document gets shared on the Internet Increase traffic through links back to the original story It also, Scribd said, lets people share the documents on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Now, this is not a plug for Scribd, though as I said, I do use it on the Media File blog because it’s easy enough for someone not well versed in technology. I’m writing about this because I’m curious to hear from you readers after you’ve played around with Scribd. How important will these kinds of “paper-like” developments be to online news reporting?(Graphic: Here is a sample of a document shown online via the reader)

Oct 7, 2009

Sun-Times bid blocked, private equity manager says

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A private equity manager who wanted to buy the Sun-Times Media Group said on Tuesday that his attempt to bid on the bankrupt newspaper publisher was blocked, and that he wants the court to reopen the sale process.

Thane Ritchie said he made requests to meet with the Chicago Newspaper Guild to discuss a coalition offer to buy the publisher, whose largest paper is the daily Chicago Sun-Times.

Oct 6, 2009

Playboy names president, will keep print magazine

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Playboy Enterprises Inc on Tuesday named an 11-year veteran of the adult entertainment company as president, while its chief executive vowed to keep printing its namesake magazine.

Alex Vaickus will serve as the company’s president, a new position, and will oversee all of its businesses including print, television and digital media, Playboy said in a statement.

Oct 6, 2009
via MediaFile

Welcome to Turkey, Bloomberg ‘efendim’

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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)

Oct 5, 2009

Conde Nast magazines shut as review bites

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Conde Nast will close four magazines — Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Gourmet, and Cookie — following a review the publisher undertook to find ways to reduce costs and staff in the face of a slump in advertising.

The decision is among the clearest signs yet of severe cost cuts at the publishing house best known for magazines such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue. Those cuts follow a study from McKinsey & Co consultants who were brought in by management this summer.

Oct 5, 2009

U.S. magazines plan online newsstand, led by Time

TORONTO (Reuters) – Time Inc is gathering U.S. magazine publishers to start a jointly run digital newsstand next year that would deliver their titles to mobile devices like increasingly popular electronic book readers.

Time Warner Inc is leading the effort, and has approached other big U.S. magazine publishers including Conde Nast and Hearst Corp, a source with knowledge of the joint venture but no authorization to speak about it told Reuters.

Sep 29, 2009

Bloomberg seen as top BusinessWeek bidder: source

NEW YORK (Reuters) – McGraw-Hill Cos Inc is leaning toward selling its money-losing BusinessWeek magazine to Bloomberg LP, although another bidder could still make a higher offer, a person familiar with the matter said.

A deal still could take weeks, or could fall apart because of depressed magazine advertising and uncertainty in the financing market; but BusinessWeek executives think that Bloomberg would be the best fit, the source said on Tuesday.

Sep 29, 2009

Gannett forecasts earnings beat; shares jump

NEW YORK, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Gannett Co Inc <GCI.N>
forecast stronger-than-expected quarterly results, sending
shares up nearly 19 percent, as cost cuts helped the largest
U.S. newspaper publisher soldier through a tough ad market. The announcement, which comes three weeks before Gannett plans to report third-quarter financial results, is rare for a U.S. newspaper publisher, and comes on the same day that the company said it was raising $400 million in debt. The anticipated results pleased Wall Street, which scooped up newspaper shares that have been battered in recent years as investors bet that print newspaper publishers face a bleak future in the 21st century wired world. It also forced traders who sold short the company's shares to cover their positions, which pushed the share price even higher. Still, the bright earnings report was the result of severe cost cuts. Advertising sales, the lifeblood of newspaper revenue, remain weak, leaving the companies in the unenviable position of trying to find more ways to cut costs to keep pleasing Wall Street. Gannett's forecast suggests that newspapers' third quarter results may look much like the second quarter when publishers counted on slashing jobs, salaries, travel and every other expense to scrape together better-than-expected profits. "Gannett beat the number by a yard, all on cost-cutting," said Benchmark Co analyst Ed Atorino. "Revenues are disappointing." Investors bought newspaper stocks on Tuesday, hoping for more positive profit surprises. New York Times Co <NYT.N> rose 10 percent, McClatchy Co <MNI.N> climbed 9 percent, and Lee Enterprises <LEE.N> jumped 55 percent, making it the top performer in the Standard & Poor's 500. Gannett in October plans to report a third-quarter profit of 39 cents to 42 cents a share, excluding items, compared with the 29 cents a share that analysts polled by Reuters Estimates forecast. Revenue is another matter. The publisher of USA Today projected revenue of $1.31 billion to $1.32 billion, short of the $1.37 billion Wall Street expected -- a sign that ad spending remains below what analysts had hoped. The forecast came as Gannett announced a $400 million debt offering. A tough period for print advertising, lower revenue from its digital division, and a broadcast business trying to get by without the help of political and Olympic spending are weighing on Gannett, Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore said. But she trumpeted Gannett's cost-cutting prowess. "Our continued efforts to achieve efficiencies and further consolidations company-wide along with significantly lower newsprint expense resulted in another substantial decline in our operating expenses," she said in a statement. This summer, Gannett laid off around 1,400 workers, after several thousand layoffs last year. Other newspaper publishers have made similar reductions. Revenue remains stubbornly depressed. Industrywide, ad sales for print and online combined fell nearly 30 percent in the first and second quarters, compared with the year before, according to the Newspaper Association of America. The declines have led many experts to predict the demise of newspapers, and some publishers, including Tribune Co <TRBCQ.PK>, filed for bankruptcy. More recently, however, newspaper stocks have rallied, as their executives have seen declines easing in coming quarters. Gannett's share run on Tuesday also reflects traders trying to balance out holdings in the stock, analysts said. Traders have sold short 49 million shares, or 21 percent of the shares, making it the most-shorted U.S. newspaper stock. That means many traders have borrowed shares and sold them short, anticipating that Gannett's stock would fall and they could make a profit on their bet. Those same traders, seeing that Gannett's shares would rise after its earnings forecast, now have to cover their bets. Gannett shares were up $1.86 or 18.6 percent at $11.84 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon. (Reporting by Paul Thomasch and Robert MacMillan, editing by Maureen Bavdek, Derek Caney and Matthew Lewis)