Media Insider: Tribune CEO Exits, New App Helps Female Journalists Fight Harassment, Spotify to Acquire The Ringer

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

Media Insider - 2/7/20 - Cup of coffee on a desk next to a folded newspaper and smartphone

NIEMANLAB | JOSHUA BENTON
A ‘Management Transition’ Is the Latest Gloomy Sign to Come out of Tribune Publishing

Less than three months ago, Alden Global Capital bought up about 32% of Tribune Publishing, the newspaper chain that owns the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Baltimore Sun, and a handful of other metro newspapers. Two months ago, Tribune employees brought their battle into the public eye with a union petition and a public plea for new ownership. Less than one month ago, Alden was already operating within Tribune HQ, “guiding” the company through cuts and buyouts. This week, Tribune Publishing announced a leadership transition plan that will “continue a strategic effort to streamline the company’s operations and position it for the future,” according to a press release issued through PR Newswire. Terry Jimenez, the company’s EVP and CFO, has assumed the role of president and CEO and joined the board, succeeding Timothy P. Knight, who stepped down from the board and will leave the company at the end of February.

Related: A Tribune executive has staffers up in arms after saying they should be happy about the voluntary buyout packages being offered.

DIGIDAY | MAX WILLENS
Quartz Sees Video as a Subscriptions Driver

Quartz is betting that its high-end video series will become a leading driver of membership revenue. The company recently announced the premiere of “Risk,” a new video series exclusively available to people enrolled in the publisher’s membership program. For 2020, Quartz’s nine-person video team will have six other member-exclusive series in production, said Jacob Templin, an executive producer at Quartz. Some will be new seasons of established shows, such as “Because China,” which examines China’s impact on the global economy, while other series will be new. Quartz management sees video as an important driver of member acquisition and retention, said Quartz Membership Editor Walter Frick. Twenty-five percent of last year’s membership acquisitions that came through content can be attributed to videos; that share is second only to the percentage credited to the in-depth field guides on emerging hot-button topics like cannabis or blockchain.

While Quartz’s strategy is unusual, it’s not the only media company investing in high-end video for its subscribers.

AXIOS | SARA FISCHER
Dotdash Acquires Another 2 Publishers

Dotdash, the IAC-owned digital publishing company, has acquired two new digital publishers, TreeHugger and Mother Nature Networkto create a new sustainability vertical within its portfolio. Dotdash is a rare breed in the digital media industry. It’s profitable by a hefty margin and unlike other digital media companies looking to diversify revenue away from ads, Dotdash has found that its formula of scaling ad-based websites with evergreen content is working. While deal terms were not disclosed, Dotdash CEO Neil Vogel says each acquisition is analogous in size to Brides, the wedding-focused outlet that it purchased in May from Condé Nast. Vogel says that he’s acquiring 10 people, the full editorial teams of both websites. Both sites are currently owned by Narrative Content Group. Their sales and operational staffs will remain with the larger holding company.

Dotdash seems to be taking over the internet; just last month, the company acquired beauty-focused sites Byrdie and Mydomaine.

REYNOLDS JOURNALISM INSTITUTE | JENNIFER NELSON
JSafe App Empowers Female Journalists to Take Action in Threatening Situations

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute this week announced the launch of JSafe, a new app built to help female journalists fight against harassment, bullying, and assault. App users can document incidents by uploading the attacker’s email or social media handles. They also can store any photo or video evidence and indicate the level of threat they are experiencing. The journalists can request a follow-up for resources from the Coalition for Women in Journalism, whether it’s to seek out a lawyer, therapist, or other assistance. Kat Duncan, interim director of innovation at RJI, said she came up with the app idea after a long discussion with other female journalists about the abuse and harassment they often face online and in the field. “As technology advances, so do the opportunities and methods of harassing female journalists,” says Duncan. “Female journalists overwhelmingly face more harassment and assault than male journalists online and in the field.”

According to a 2019 survey of female and gender-nonconforming journalists, 70 percent of respondents experienced safety issues on the job.

THE NEW YORK TIMES | KATIE ROBERTSON AND NOAM SCHEIBER
Spotify Is Buying The Ringer

In its fourth podcast-related acquisition in two years, Spotify announced this week that it is purchasing The Ringer, the sports news website and podcasting network founded by Bill Simmons. In addition to producing more than 30 podcasts, including the popular shows “The Bill Simmons Podcast” and “The Rewatchables,” The Ringer also publishes original articles and houses a video network and film production division. Simmons, who created The Ringer in 2016 after leaving ESPN, said in a statement, “Spotify can take us to another level.” The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter; terms were not disclosed.

In other acquisition news, Cards Against Humanity bought Clickhole from G/O Media (no, that’s not a Clickhole headline).

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. She founded Bags of Love Foundation, 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 blind Maltese, Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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