Media Insider: Facebook to Launch ‘News’ Tab, New York Tries to Save Local News, HuffPost Reportedly on Auction Block

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

Pictures of the Facebook logo

Facebook to Offer ‘News’ Tab for Users – and Pay (Some) Publishers for Their Work

Facebook plans to launch a “News” tab on Friday that will offer stories from hundreds of news organizations, some of which will be paid fees for supplying content to the service, people familiar with the plan say. The move, which will put the social media giant squarely back into the news delivery business after having de-emphasized it last year, is seen as a step toward the long-sought goal of having technology companies pay for the content they deliver to users. The News tab also will put Facebook into direct competition with the news aggregation services offered by Silicon Valley rivals Google and Apple. Facebook’s service will include some human curation but will mostly rely on computerized algorithms that seek to match user interests with offerings from a wide range of reports on varying subjects. The list of participating news organizations, initially totaling about 200, will include The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, BuzzFeed News, and many local news sources.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg hinted at the News tab during his testimony before Congress this week.

Local News Is Dying. New York May Try to Pass a Law to Save It.

Hardly a week goes by, it seems, without another death blow for local journalism — another beloved newspaper slashes its staff, another longtime radio program goes silent. In New York, there might now be a novel solution: government intervention. Two state lawmakers are proposing a requirement that any cable company operating in New York offer a local news channel with “news, weather and public affairs programming,” according to a draft of the bill. The programming would have to be independently produced; companies could not simply rebroadcast others’ existing news shows. The bill, if passed, would be the first of its kind in the country. Policymakers elsewhere have considered other forms of intervention to save local news, but New York’s bill would be perhaps the most aggressive attempt by government officials to sustain local news in the long term.

More than 1,300 communities in the U.S. have totally lost news coverage.

HuffPost Is Reportedly on the Auction Block

HuffPost, part of Verizon Media Group’s network of media properties, is up for sale, according to a Financial Times report. Verizon has been shedding media properties in a retreat from the strategy that it had begun to execute with the acquisition of AOL for $4.4 billion back in 2015. Through the AOL deal, then-chief executive Tim Armstrong became the architect of the telecommunications company’s media and advertising strategy. Armstrong’s vision was to roll up as much online real estate as he could while creating a high-tech advertising architecture on the back-end that could better target consumers based on their media consumption. Now it appears Verizon has a multibillion-dollar case of buyer’s remorse. Verizon announced layoffs across its media properties at the beginning of the year, cutting roughly 7% of its staff — or around 800 jobs — including 20 at HuffPost.

Verizon Media is also reportedly looking to shift its publishing strategy to focus on commerce.

Meredith Sells Money Personal-Finance Site to Digital Advertising Firm

After previously failing to find a buyer for Money and shutting down the print edition, Meredith has found a new home for the personal-finance brand. Meredith announced that it closed the sale of the Money brand to Ad Practitioners, a digital advertising and media company. It’s the latest in a string of recent M&A deals in which struggling print brands are pairing off with digital media companies looking to build on their brand equity. Last month, Vox Media acquired New York Media and Condé Nast sold the Brides title to Dotdash. Meredith acquired Money as part of its January 2018 acquisition of Time Inc. and it’s the fourth “non-core” property the company has sold off in the U.S.

Meredith also announced it is shutting down Family Circle and cutting 70 jobs.

What Publishers Like BuzzFeed, Hearst and Vice Are Learning From Being on TikTok

TikTok is attracting a small but growing group of publishers eager to master the short-form video platform and its young and growing audience. While most are still in an experimentation phase when it comes to using TikTok, they’re learning what works and what doesn’t on an app that doesn’t yet have publisher-friendly resources like discovery tabs or the sharing of ad revenues. Vice is finding its TikTok followers crave exclusive content. Next month, Vice is planning to launch a Munchies by Vice account and Vice Chief Digital Officer Cory Haik said it will feature exclusive content made specifically for TikTok by Vice’s own social innovation team. BuzzFeed isn’t creating exclusive content for TikTok just yet but said reception to its repurposed video content has been positive. Hearst Magazines also repackages content from other platforms onto TikTok. It’s found certain types of content to be the most engaging: namely, anything featuring celebrities and “mesmerizing” content.

The Chinese-owned social networking app is also getting some attention from Congress, with two senators asking for a federal review over “privacy concerns.”

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. She founded Bags of Love, a local nonprofit that provides cancer patients with care packages aimed at making their treatment more comfortable. In her spare time, she loves nothing more than cuddling with her dog Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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