Media Insider: The Washington Post Foils Apparent Sting, BuzzFeed to Lay Off 100, Is “Pivot to Video” an Industry Joke?

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

Washington Post

Photo by Matt Schwartz used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

THE WASHINGTON POST | SHAWN BOBURG, AARON C. DAVIS, AND ALICE CRITES
A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation.

This week, The Washington Post exposed a fake Roy Moore accuser, in a rare story that included off-the-record conversation with the woman. In a series of interviews over two weeks, the woman claimed she was impregnated as a teenager by the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama. According to The Post, it did not publish her story due to a number of inconsistencies. Upon further investigation, reporters found the woman had ties to a political organization and appeared to be part of an “undercover sting operation” to expose media bias. “We always honor ‘off-the-record’ agreements when they’re entered into in good faith,” says Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor, in the article. “But this so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us.”

In an attempt to build trust with readers, this investigative outlet’s fact-checkers are traveling cross country to take its readers behind the scenes.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE | CHAS DANNER
Meredith, Backed by Koch Brothers, Acquires Time Inc. for $2.8 Billion

The Meredith Corporation announced it closed a deal to acquire Time Inc. for $2.8 billion. The bid, according to New York Magazine, was “bolstered by $650 million from the private-equity firm of conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch.” Meredith claims the Koch brothers will not get seats on the board, saying the deal was strictly a business opportunity for the firm. Time Inc. owns TimePeopleSports IllustratedFortuneEntertainment Weekly, and numerous other print and digital media properties. The company has seen its revenue drop every year since 2011, struggling to adapt to the rise of digital, writes Danner.

Opinion: Why Time Magazine Needs the Koch Brothers.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | LUKAS I. ALPERT
BuzzFeed Plans Job Cuts, Business Reorganization After Revenue Miss

BuzzFeed announced this week it’s cutting 100 US employees and plans to restructure its ad sales operation. In a memo sent to staff, CEO Jonah Peretti writes, “As our strategy evolves, we need to evolve our organization, too — particularly our business team, which was built to support direct sold (or native) advertising but will need to bring in different, more diverse expertise to support these new lines of business.” Peretti called 2017 a “transformational year” and says he’s hopeful the steps taken will reshape BuzzFeed’s future, reports WSJ.

When it comes to hitting revenue targets, it isn’t all bad news in the land of digital media. Bustle is on track to grow its revenue by 50% this year.

COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW | PETE BROWN 
Pushed beyond breaking: US newsrooms use mobile alerts to define their brand


Read more: Is 2017 the year of the push alert?

SPLINTER | DAVID UBERTI
Is Mic’s Pivot to Video Spinning Out of Control?

At its peak in December 2015, Mic.com had more than 21 million unique visitors coming to its site. After a strategic “pivot to video,” Mic’s traffic slipped to 4.6 million, reports Splinter. “What staffers describe as a headlong shift in strategy reflects how Mic, branded as a bellwether of wokeness for young people, is coming to grips with an inhospitable media environment in which outside investors’ patience is wearing thin,” writes Uberti. “Current and former employees, meanwhile, have been left wondering whether some recent moves are intended to shore up finances or otherwise make the company more appealing to suitors.”

Has “pivot to video” become an industry joke? The Atlantic explores in How to Survive the Media Apocalypse.

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Joanna Giannell is a Senior Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire. She is also an animal lover and music enthusiast. Tune into her insights as a social curator at @PRNpets.

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