Media Insider: Meredith Sells Fortune, Tribune Stocks Tumble, Der Spiegel Files Criminal Complaint Against Reporter

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

Businessman reading the business section of a newspaper

DEADLINE | BRUCE HARING
Fortune Magazine Sold for $150M to Thai Businessman

Publishing giant Meredith has finalized the sale of Fortune Magazine for $150 million to Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon. Jiaravanon surfaced in October as a buyer after Marc Benioff and his wife pivoted to a purchase of Time magazine instead of buying Fortune. The Time deal for $190 million closed in November. Meredith previously stated it would sell Fortune, Time, Sports Illustrated, and Money, titles it acquired in its $2.8 billion Time Inc. acquisition. Meredith will use the proceeds to pay down debt. Fortune will become part of the new Fortune Media Group.

In more Meredith-related news: Health magazine, will reveal a new look with its January/February issue.

AL JAZEERA
Spiegel to File Criminal Complaint Against Cheating Reporter

Influential German newsweekly Der Spiegel has said it would file a criminal complaint against a disgraced reporter after it emerged he may have embezzled donations intended for Syrian street children. Claas Relotius, 33, was fired this month after admitting to making up stories and inventing protagonists in more than a dozen articles in the magazine’s print and online editions. Spiegel said it now had information that Relotius allegedly launched a campaign for readers to give money to help subjects of an article he wrote, but that the bank details he gave directed the funds to his own account.

Since news of the scandal broke out, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, called for an investigation and used the scandal to take aim at journalists.

NEW YORK POST | KEITH J. KELLY
Tribune Stock Tumbles After McClatchy Bid Dies

News that the McClatchy bid for Tribune Publishing is dead as a doornail sent the stock spiraling to another new 52-week low on Tuesday, Dec. 18, slumping to $12.40 a share before closing at $12.45, down 4.1 percent. Will Wyatt, a former hedge fund operator, has been looking at the books in recent days to see how much, if anything, he may bid now that he appears to be the sole surviving potential bidder. If he lands the deal, he is planning to bust up the company that includes the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, and the struggling New York Daily News, among other titles, and sell it off in pieces. He’s said to be in the process of lining up buyers.

Other media companies, especially new digital media, saw sharp stock declines in what’s being considered the worst market week in 10 years.

DIGIDAY | MAX WILLENS
Salon Tacks Back to Subscriptions in an Effort to Revive Revenue

San Francisco-based publisher Salon recently launched a feature that allows visitors to try out an ad-free version of the site for small windows of time — just an hour for 50 cents. More committed readers can also pay higher amounts for longer periods of time, up to $99 for a full year of ad-free reading. The ad-free offering is a small test designed to serve a known reader demand, according to Salon Media Group CEO Jordan Hoffner. But starting next year, Salon will begin putting content behind a paywall, too — a further step toward diversifying away from the programmatic ad revenue that drives most of its business. It also will continue investing in new content categories, such as food and health — a strategy it launched this spring.

Pueblo Pulp, an independent publisher in the Southern Rockies, is using a similar model. This allows readers to buy individual articles or weekly passes.

CNN BUSINESS | BRIAN STELTER
Media Year in Review: All the Big Changes From 2018

Every corner of the media industry was touched by 2018’s frenetic pace of change. The streaming wars escalated. So did a very different kind of war: President Trump’s assault on news outlets he doesn’t like. Meantime, a wave of media consolidation continued to build, and all sorts of websites explored new subscription-based business models. And through the news media, we all learned names like Jamal Khashoggi, Christine Blasey Ford, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stormy Daniels, and Karen McDougal.

In more media news round-ups: Columbia Journalism Review offered a look on its take of the seven biggest media stories of 2018.

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at PR Newswire. An animal lover, she curates content for @PRNPets – that is, when she’s not busy cuddling with her 10-year-old blind Maltese, Toody.

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