Media Insider: Apple Unveils News Subscription Service, Americans Prefer Broadcast for Local News, Facebook Weighs in on News Deserts

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

Apple logo sign in front of a building

Apple Unveils Subscription News, Video Streaming & Game Subscription Services

After months of fevered speculation, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced plans for a new, paid subscription news service called Apple News+ launching next week as part of the existing Apple News application. Roger Rosner, Apple’s vice president of applications, said the new service will cost $9.99 a month and include content from more than 300 magazines, spanning a range of topics. Rosner said the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal are participating in the new service. The Washington Post and The New York Times reportedly are sitting it out. Some publishers reportedly have been concerned by the amount of money Apple will keep from the revenue-sharing partnership.

ICYMI: Google announced it is giving Asia-Pacific Innovation Challenge news organizations $3.2 million to stem media decline.

Pew Research Finds Broadcast Is the Favorite Source for Local News

Television remains the most popular outlet for local news, with digital sources a close second, according to a huge new survey released by the Pew Research Center. The study finds broad satisfaction with local news — but simultaneously a reluctance to pay for it. Only 14 percent of those surveyed said that they directly have paid for a local news source, while, strikingly, 71 percent think their local news media are doing well financially — a very different perception than journalists have in an era of buyouts and layoffs. In terms of the overall landscape, television is the preferred source (38 percent often get news there), as past Pew studies have shown, but various digital sources are moving up fast to parity. Radio is used often by 22 percent of those surveyed, and local daily newspapers by just 17 percent. Also, of the 35,000 adults surveyed, 81 percent expressed a strong preference that those providing local news live in or be personally engaged in the community.

What’s next for TV? Check out this list of TV “revolutionaries”: 15 people remaking the television industry.

Facebook Says 1 in 3 Users Live in Local News Deserts

Facebook announced this week that it would provide select researchers access to information about news deserts, which are places with little to no local news coverage. The research sharing is part of the Facebook Journalism Project, the company’s initiative to enable the spread of high-quality journalism and news literacy on Facebook. Facebook found that one in three users live in an area without a significant amount of local news coverage. The company made this determination by judging whether an area produced enough local news to participate in Facebook’s local news dissemination program, “Today In.” In January, the company pledged to invest $300 million into “news programs, partnerships and content.” The company also pledged to fund the Facebook Journalism Project Community Network, a program that offers grants to newsmakers beefing up local coverage, in partnership with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. According to Poynter, Facebook will “give out just over a total of 100 grants for between $5,000 and $25,000 for projects that build community through local news.”

Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that the U.S. has lost more than 1,800 newspapers since 2004.

Bidding War for Sports Illustrated Starting to Heat up

The bidding for iconic magazine Sports Illustrated is heating up. Private equity giant TPG, which owns Creative Artists Associates, one of the biggest sports talent agencies in the world, is hot and heavy in the hunt to buy the magazine from publisher Meredith Corp. Meredith put Sports Illustrated on the market last year for $150 million and is said still to be hoping for that amount even though the sales process has now dragged on for a full year. Just last month, Meredith Executive Chairman Steve Lacy described the biding process as a “horse race,” saying there were two parties vying for the mag. One of them was former Milwaukee Bucks star Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, who built a successful post-NBA career as a fast-food franchisee and Coca-Cola bottler. News Corp. was also said to be looking at Sports Illustrated, but was more interested in its digital property FanSided, sources said. TPG and Meredith declined to comment but Meredith had said earlier that it hoped to be able to announce deals by the end of its fiscal year on June 30.

In more magazine news, Dan Peres, formerly with Players’ Tribune, has been tapped to head the Gawker relaunch.

Circa, Sinclair’s Millennial-Focused Site, is Shutting Down

Citing an “onerous” environment for a “smaller publisher,” Sinclair says it’s shuttering Circa, its video-heavy, platform-focused news property that was aimed at millennials. “While we see new business opportunities with digital video and OTT, they do not require the daily publishing of a website,” Sinclair said, in a statement to The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple. Circa launched in 2012 as a news app that broke traditional news articles into bits. Despite being widely lauded within the industry, it wasn’t able to find a large audience and shut down in 2015. Sinclair then relaunched the property, primarily as a website, but struggled to gain an audience.

Over at The New York Times, the company just released its 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Report.

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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 11-year-old blind Maltese, Toody.

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