Media Insider: Mark Cuban to Launch Podcast App, Three Gannett Newspapers Unionize, NY Times Invests in Digital Games

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

a podcast microphone on a table with podcast equipment behind it

THE VERGE | ASHLEY CARMAN
Mark Cuban Is Co-Founding a Podcast App Where Hosts Can Monetize Their Conversations

Mark Cuban is getting in on the audio and podcasting hype. Alongside co-founder Falon Fatemi, Cuban is planning to launch Fireside, a “next-gen podcast platform” that facilitates live conversation, according to an email sent to possible creator partners. The app idea is similar to the buzzy live audio startup Clubhouse, except with the ability to natively record conversations. A source says the app plans to launch publicly this year. Fatemi, who co-founded and sold the AI customer relations service Node, promises a platform where creators will be able to broadcast, record, and monetize conversations while using Fireside’s built-in analytics tools to figure out what content performs best. The app, according to a now-expired engineer job posting, has raised a “multi-million dollar” seed round to get started. The source close to the company says creators will be offered various deals and ways to monetize, and the app won’t let just anyone speak publicly — it’ll be a highly curated experience. 

The podcast industry continues to boom, with nearly two podcasts launching every minute.

NEW JERSEY GLOBE | DAVID WILDSTEIN
Three N.J. Newspapers Owned by Gannett Form a Union

Seeking job security against reductions in force and greater diversity in the workplace, editorial staffers of three Gannett-owned North Jersey-based daily newspapers have unionized. Employees of The (Bergen) Record, Daily Record, and New Jersey Herald are seeking voluntary recognition of their union after almost 90% of eligible employees – a total of 66 – signed on with the NewsGuild of New York. “In fewer than five years, Gannett has turned each into a shadow of their former selves,” said Bergen Record reporter Terrence McDonald. “We organized to bring more power to the writers, photographers, and web producers who are dedicated to providing our communities with the journalism they deserve.” If Gannett turns down the voluntary request, the employees can petition the National Labor Relations Board to conduct an election.

Journalists at the New York Daily News have also formed a union.

CNBC | SAHELI ROY CHOUDHURY
Australia’s Media Bill Could Become Law ‘Fairly Soon’ Despite Google and Facebook Objections

Australia is on track to push through legislation that would require digital platforms to pay for news, according to the country’s communications minister, Paul Fletcher. The government expects the likes of Google and Facebook to comply with the law, Fletcher told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday. The media bill was introduced in parliament last December. Referred to as the “news media bargaining code,” it would require digital platforms to pay local media outlets and publishers to link their content in news feeds or search results. If both sides are unable to reach a commercial deal, government-appointed arbitrators can decide on the price. Both Google and Facebook have threatened to limit their services in Australia if the law is passed.

In more Google news, the tech giant is going to start paying UK publishers for news.

AXIOS | SARA FISCHER
New York Times to Invest in More Digital Games and Puzzles

The New York Times is planning to double down on digital games. In particular, it’s looking to invest more in puzzles. Games have become a huge part of The Times’s digital strategy over the past few years. NYT said Thursday it added 2.3 million digital-only subscribers last year, with about a third of those new adds going to its cooking, games, and audio apps. “We think it’s a big market,” said CEO Meredith Kopit Levien. She noted that the company will focus more on puzzles in the future as a part of its games strategy, given the success of NYT Spelling Bee. To date, most of its gaming engagement has come from its infamous NYT Crosswords app.

Also from Axios: Bloomberg Media expects to bring in at least $100 million in consumer subscription revenue in 2021.

DIDIGAY | MAX WILLENS
‘A Conversion Monster’: The Live Post Makes a Comeback Among News Publishers

It’s 2021, and live blogging has made a comeback. Fresh off maybe the busiest news year in modern history, publishers are leaning more into the live update formats that many turned to in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, after discovering that the format helps drive subscriber growth. These pages and content formats – which include live blogs, live update or briefing pages, and live chats – drive more content consumption, deliver stronger subscriber conversion, and tend to play an important role in subscriber retention. So even after the coronavirus receded slightly from news publishers’ front pages, publishers used the tools during last year’s protests, presidential elections, and even the unrest that led to the Jan. 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

Read next: Publishers seek new life in the old open web.

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Maria Perez is Director, Web 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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