Saturday, August 28, 2010

One Nation, marching for progress

We've gotten word on several upcoming Guild initiatives, and the immediate future is shaping up to be very busy indeed.

One Nation March

CWA is asking all members to consider participating in the One Nation March, in support of real progress. Blue collar and middle class Americans are this nation's most valuable resource, and we deserve a government dedicated to strengthening and protecting our economy, our families, and our rights.

In addition, the Guild is seeking additional media industry organizers, launching a study with the University of Missouri to examine the value of newspapers, and several other projects. Visit the Guild's update page for more information.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Content for nothing

Online advertising is more popular than ever, and represents an ever-increasing slice of the media revenue pie. But as media properties grow their online audience, advertising revenues have seen their margins slashed.

Daniel Lyons at Newsweek points out that The Huffington Post, top dog of online media, will earn approximately $30 million in revenue this year. That's despite having five times the audience of The Washington Post.

As a comparison, the Washington Post recorded over $45 million in profit for Q1 of 2009. Their revenue? $1.17 billion. That's for the quarter, not the year.

Lyons reports that Michael Wolff, founder of, has had his online advertising fall by 20% in terms of CPM value. Even as the overall audience grows, the value of each individual reader is falling.

Compounding the problem is that few readers seem to value online content. According to USC's Digital Future study, exactly zero percent of respondents showed any willingness to pay for online content. And doubly vexing, most were unhappy with online advertising too.

Jolie O'Dell at analyzes the results.

“Such an extreme finding that produced a zero response underscores the difficulty of getting Internet users to pay for anything that they already receive for free,” says Jeffrey I. Cole, the Annenberg School’s director of the Center for the Digital Future.

So what's the solution? Paywalls? As the source of online content shrinks with every reporter laid off or masthead shuttered, online purveyors like Yahoo! and AOL have attempted to fill the void with in-house content. But is Yahoo's acquisition of Associated Content really equal to professional journalism? Is an article written by "anyone" (so says AC's About Us page) which cost the company $5 and was written to capitalize on the latest Google Trend, really a substitute for in-depth coverage of current events?

What do you think?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Guild reaches deal in NY

PoynterOnline is reporting that the Guild has reached a "tentative agreement" with Time Inc. The three-year contract provides Guild members yearly pay increases and additional job security, and in return Time Inc. will have greater flexibilty in assigning work to employees. Specific details of the contract will be released after the deal is ratified by Guild members.

Guild President Bill O’Meara said he was “extremely pleased that we could come to an amicable agreement with the company, despite the challenging times facing the print industry."

“I believe our agreement gives Time Inc. the sort of flexibility that is going to be required to insure its success in this rapidly changing world of communications,” O’Meara said. “And, in return, Time Inc. has given our members an added measure of job security."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

LAPC honors SoCal journalists

The 2010 Los Angeles Press Club SoCal Journalism Awards included members of both our Daily News and Press-Telegram units, and we'd like to congratulate not only the winners, but everyone in each newsroom for producing the quality journalism that's so vital to local communities.

Tracy Manzer and Kelly Puente shared top honors in the Hard News category, followed by Press-Telegram reporter Greg Mellen in second place.

Read the article

In sports, the Daily News' Jon Gold was recognized for his coverage of Skid Row's Midnight Mission basketball team.

Read the article

In photography, our members again grabbed the spotlight. For news photography, Jeff Gritchen took first place, followed by David Crane. Honorable mention went to Stephen Carr.

Features photography honors went to John McCoy, and second place went to Mike Baker. Brittany Murray received honorable mention.

Sports photography was also capped by the DN's John McCoy, followed by Stephen Carr in second place and Hans Gutknecht with an honorable mention.

We tried to find the photos to showcase them here, but it's been difficult to locate them. We'll update the post if we can track the pictures down.

Again, congratulations to all our winners on a job well done. You, and the rest of your newsrooms, deserve it all. Bravo!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bankruptcy brings new owners, new business models

As the newspaper industry reels from bankruptcies among some of its most powerful players, a new class of investors have quietly stepped in, seeking to capitalize on rock-bottom stock prices.

Michael Oneal of the Chicago Tribune suggests that this isn't a takeover of the industry, but it will have an impact - the scope of which remains to be determined.

The natural tension for funds like Angelo Gordon, however, is that they don't have unlimited time to wait for their investments to bear fruit. Their compensation and fee structure is generally based on raising a fund, investing it to generate 20 to 30 percent annual returns and then monetizing those returns over a period of a few years.

That tension may have led to a parting of the ways between the firm and Brad Pattelli, who gained attention this year as the architect of Angelo Gordon's extensive newspaper investments. Neither Pattelli nor the firm would comment for this story. But John Johnson Jr., who runs a company called Foamex International Inc. and has sat on a number of boards for Angelo Gordon in the past, said Pattelli was interested in business-building in the media industry, not just trading in and out of distressed companies.

"Brad wants to move up and have more of a say in how companies are managed," said Johnson. "But funds have a time limit on them."

Despite their time constraints, many believe the hedge funds will be forced to remain patient if they want to reap what they've sown in newspapers. Johnson believes the funds may not have a firm exit strategy in mind, and it will take sure signs of a recovery to grease deals and provide liquidity. For that reason, Dunning thinks any real shuffling is probably months away as financial players continue to learn what's possible and wait for exit opportunities to present themselves.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bankruptcy may spur growth, profits

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett told his annual meeting that it "blows your mind" how quickly the newspaper industry is losing the fight for readers and advertisers.

Despite dire warning from Berkshire Hathaway, many in the industry say that bankruptcy, and the attendant release of enormous debt structures, will enable many newspapers to preserve, and even grow advertising revenue.

In this article from Reuters, experts like Alan Mutter suggest that reinvestment will allow titans like MediaNews to reverse declining fortunes.

"These companies are trying to come up with new products beyond yesterday's news in tomorrow's paper," said newspaper consultant Alan Mutter. "They get that the business is declining and wasting."

He pointed to MediaNews Group, which recently introduced a glossy lifestyle magazine to supplement its 54 dailies and their circulation of more than 2 million.

"The fact is, that's something they could not have done before bankruptcy," said Mutter.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Eve of destruction

Sumner Redstone, Chairman of Viacom, says newspapers are not only dying, they're dead. And in two years, they'll be extinct.

According to BusinessWeek, the comments came as part of a dig at News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch.

“He lives in ink, and I live in movies and television,” Redstone said. “Ink is going to go away, and movies and television will be here forever, like me.”