Media Insider: Talks of a Gannett/GateHouse Merger, BuzzFeed Recognizes Employee Union, NYT Obits Get More Diverse

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

Stack of newspapers with blue background

COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW | JON ALLSOP
Two newspaper giants plan a massive merger

Late last week, it was announced that Gannett and GateHouse are close to finalizing a merger deal. An official announcement could be made in the next few weeks. If the merger goes through, the combined company would own 265 daily titles — one of every six daily newspapers in America. While the two companies are staying quiet, experts expect GateHouse’s owner, New Media Investment Group, will acquire Gannett because of its access to “serious money.” According to the article, “By joining forces, Gannett and GateHouse hope their titles will become more attractive to advertisers amid an industry-wide decline in revenue.”

A recent study from UNC’s School of Media and Journalism looked at the growing trend of consolidation in the newspaper industry.

THE DAILY BEAST | LLOYD GROVE
The New York Times Is Out to Make Its Obituaries Less White and Less Male

The New York Times has developed a new software called the “Obits Diversity Analysis Tool” to help promote diversity and end the dominance of deceased white males on its obituary pages. The goal is to assure that at least 30% of its obituaries feature women in addition to raising the obit percentage for racial and sexual- and gender-identity minorities. According to an internal document published by The New York Times, “We wanted to focus on a project that would be immediately useful to the company at large while also improving the bottom line of diversity inside the company as well as the wider public.”

To help jump-start this initiative, check out the Times obit feature titled “Overlooked,” 

NIEMANLAB | CHRISTINE SCHMIDT 
Will enough readers pay for hyperlocal journalism — over text? Cleveland.com and Project Text will find out

Cleveland.com is experimenting to see if readers would be willing to pay for hyperlocal journalism via text. Through a tool called “Project Text,” those who have signed up for the month-long free trial have been receiving twice-a-weekday texts from Cleveland.com reporter Emily Bamforth. The texts include everything from road closures to city council ordinances, restaurant shifts, and more. After the free trial ends, the monthly subscription for the texts-only plan will be $3.99. Cleveland.com is not the first to try something like this and acknowledges that the odds may be stacked against it. However, Cleveland.com president Chris Quinn told NiemanLab, “Everybody who’s tried hyperlocal has done it with traditional stories. This isn’t that. This is a completely different approach to connecting people with the community and engaging with them.”

Learn more about Project Text here.

BLOOMBERG | GERRY SMITH
BuzzFeed Agrees to Recognize Union After Monthslong Standoff

After months of negotiations with management, the standoff over recognizing BuzzFeed’s union with the NewsGuild of New York has finally come to an end. BuzzFeed Inc. has agreed to voluntarily recognize an employee union and a third party has already begun conducting a card check. Although employees expressed disappointment that the recognition took so long, members of the group call this a win, saying, “We see this as a new opportunity for BuzzFeed to do right by its workers.”

ICYMI: BuzzFeed Employees Stage Walkout Over Stalled Union Recognition

CNN BUSINESS | CLARE DUFFY
Snapchat tops 200 million daily users for the first time

After experiencing a decrease in user growth, Snapchat is on its way to making a comeback by reaching 200 million daily users for the first time. After a poorly received redesign cost the company millions of users in late 2017, Snap has been working tirelessly to regain its audience and has attributed the recent spike in growth — 13 million daily users added in the last three months — to better quality exclusive content. In a society where privacy is a main concern, Snapchat executives feel their focus on privacy gives them a competitive advantage. Jeremi Gorman, Snap’s chief business officer, told CNN Business, “We’re confident in our position because of the regulatory concerns and privacy conversations happening … These values have been baked into our products from the beginning.”

Related: Snapchat tests Netflix-like home page for shows

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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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