Media Insider: U.S. Restricts Chinese Journalists, NY Times Looks to Acquire Serial, AAP Shuts Down

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

Media Insider - March 5, 2020 - U.S. Restricts Chinese Journalists

AXIOS | BETHANY ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN
U.S. Places New Restrictions on Chinese Journalists

Senior Trump administration officials announced a set of restrictions to be placed on Chinese journalists operating in the United States. The unprecedented restrictions are aimed at upholding “reciprocity” in U.S.-China relations amid a deteriorating media environment in China, the officials said. They said that two types of restrictions will be put into place in the coming weeks: 1) The administration will place a duration of stay on all Chinese nationals who are in the United States on I visas, the visa type given to foreign media workers; 2) The five Chinese state-run media outlets that were recently designated by the State Department as “foreign missions” will now face a limit on the total number of Chinese nationals working for them in the United States at any given time. The new restrictions come in the aftermath of China’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters in China.

Meanwhile, some of the magazine world’s leading fashion editors are in self-imposed quarantine since returning from fashion shows in Europe.

RADIO & INTERNET NEWS | BRAD HILL
NY Times ‘In Exclusive Talks’ to Acquire Serial Productions, Potential Cost of $75M

The New York Times is interested in buying Serial Productions, the podcast house which makes Serial, the most successful true crime podcast franchise of the last six years. Ben Smith, the new media columnist at the Times, wrote in his first column that the Times “is in exclusive talks to acquire Serial Productions, the breakthrough podcast studio that has attracted more than 300 million downloads.” The article cites two anonymous people saying that Serial is valued at $75 million, but that the Times “is expected” to pay less (for unstated reasons). Perhaps most interesting, Smith speculates that a Times-acquired Serial, along with The Daily (the Times’ morning news podcast and one of the most successful podcasts in the world), “could form the basis for an ambitious new paid product.” Smith says that Times executives believe that business could be the start of an “HBO of podcasts.”

Another media giant looking to enter the podcast space: BBC Studios, which announced an investment into Pocket Casts.

SACRAMENTO BEE | RYAN LILLIS
Sacramento Mayor Steinberg Recruiting Ownership Group Effort to Buy Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is working to form a local ownership group that could purchase The Sacramento Bee, separating the 163-year-old publication from its parent company. The Bee’s current owner, McClatchy Co., is moving through Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure its debt and shed pension obligations. If the restructuring plan proposed by McClatchy is approved by a judge, the likely owner of The Bee and 29 other publications would be Chatham Asset Management LLC, a New Jersey-based hedge fund. Purchasing The Bee during those proceedings would be a complicated, but not unprecedented, maneuver. It would involve gathering a team of well-heeled investors willing to share ownership of a local publication in an industry in steep decline. That investment team would have to convince the bankruptcy judge and the company’s creditors, which includes Chatham, to sell the property.

In more newspaper news, Tribune Publishing reported year-over-year income growth along with significant growth in digital subscribers.

ASSOCIATED PRESS | ROD MCGUIRK
Australian Associated Press to Shut Down After 85 Years

The national news agency Australian Associated Press said this week it will close in late June, its 85 years in business vanquished by a decline in subscribers and free distribution of news content on digital platforms. Based in Sydney, AAP was started in 1935 by newspaper publisher Keith Murdoch, father of News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch. The agency is renowned for its fair and impartial reporting and its extraordinary reach across rural and urban Australia. The surprise decision by its owners to close the agency comes amid a brutal consolidation in the industry and raised an outcry both from its staff and many Australians who view it as a pillar of a free and fair press. 

More than 50 AAP reporters are likely to be offered jobs at News Corp. and Nine Entertainment Co. amid the closure.

DIGIDAY | KAYLEIGH BARBER
How Meredith Is Investing in Tech to Connect Ads to Sales

Meredith Corp. has gathered years’ worth of information on what its readers are interested in. This year, the women’s publisher hopes to finish implementing the system that gathers it, which will allow Meredith to use that information more efficiently as it seeks to grow its video offerings and commerce business, while continuing to invest in its data platform. The platform, which includes a content management system, relies on an unusually deep taxonomy of keywords, which Meredith’s data team assembled for all the content published by its brands. While the typical digital article carries 600-800 tags on it, a Meredith article is tagged with upwards of 12,000 words. This additional information allows brands to easily track how consumers are clicking, reading, sharing, or adding items to their cart.

Read next: Politico grows its UK team as it expands its post-Brexit policy coverage.

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. In her spare time, she runs Bags of Love Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides cancer patients with care packages aimed at making their treatment more comfortable. She also enjoys kickboxing, baking, and cuddling with her dog Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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