Media Insider: Newspaper Circulation Drops 20%, AP Names Executive Editor, Wirecutter Gets a Paywall

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.

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Top 25 US newspapers by circulation: America’s largest titles have lost 20% of print sales since Covid-19 hit

According to an analysis of data from the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM), America’s top 25 largest newspapers have lost 20% of their weekday print circulation since the beginning of the pandemic. The combined circulation of the newspapers started at 4.7 million in Q1 2019, dropped to 4.2 million by Q1 2020, and fell to 3.4 million in 2021. The data shows that the WSJ, NYT, and USA Today together lost more than 500,000 of print circulation between the first quarter of 2020 and the last reported period. USA Today was the worst-performing top-25 newspaper during this period, having lost 303,000, or 62%, of its circulation since March 2020. It recently launched a paywall to build its digital revenues as print sales decline.

In-flight magazines are also suffering, and Airbus might replace Skymall with a digital magazine.

Julie Pace named new Associated Press executive editor

The AP announced this week that AP Assistant Managing Editor and Washington bureau chief Julie Pace has been named the global news agency’s senior vice president and executive editor, effective immediately. Pace is the third consecutive woman to serve as AP executive editor and will succeed Sally Buzbee, who joined the Washington Post in June as executive editor. She has been with the AP since 2007 — she joined as a video producer, moved to chief White House correspondent, and eventually transitioned to Washington bureau chief in 2017. Pace has a forward-thinking plan to break down silos in the newsroom, saying, “We have an opportunity to take all of the fantastic journalism that we do across formats and think of ways we can make it more digital-friendly, to make it more social-friendly.”

More personnel news: Simone Swink was named senior producer of “Good Morning America” and G/O Media announced three new editors-in-chief for AV Club, Gizmodo, and Jezebel.

New York Times’ Wirecutter Product-Review Site Moves Behind Paywall

To diversify its subscription business beyond the flagship news product, New York Times Co. is moving Wirecutter, its consumer product-review site, behind a metered paywall. A standalone subscription will be $5 every four weeks or $40/year. The paywall will give readers access to 10 free Wirecutter articles each month before prompting them to subscribe. Since acquiring Wirecutter for around $30 million in 2016, the Times has reported an increase in revenue for it almost every quarter. And there seems to be an audience for subscriptions since only around a quarter of Wirecutter’s 12 million visitors a month “are also subscribers or registered users of the Times,” WSJ notes.

For those that subscribe to Amazon Music, they may soon have access to live audio including music and conversations, according to Axios.

Vice Raises $85 Million as SPAC Talks End, Smith Yields Control

Vice Media announced this week that talks to take the company public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) had ended. The company instead is raising $85 million from existing investors with a goal to make Vice profitable. As part of the deal, co-founder Shane Smith will give up his voting control but will remain chairman of the board. The news comes less than a week after the outlet let go fewer than 20 people who worked in the company’s editorial division.

In other SPAC news, Forbes announced its plan to go public in the late fourth quarter of 2021 or early first quarter of 2022.

ESPN Explores Sports-Betting Deal Worth at Least $3 Billion

According to sources, ESPN is seeking to license its brand to major sports-betting companies for at least $3 billion over several years. To capitalize on the online gambling industry (expected to generate $4 billion in revenue this year), the sports media giant has reportedly held talks with Caesars Entertainment Inc. and DraftKings, both of which have existing partnerships with ESPN. A deal would mean the ability to use the ESPN name for branding and would also require the sports-betting firm to spend a certain amount of money advertising on ESPN’s platforms, a source said. ESPN has been dipping its toes into sports betting with the launch of a wagering YouTube channel and a special betting-focused broadcast for an NBA game. Even so, network execs want to keep ESPN from being directly involved in gambling deals and betting transactions.

Read next: The wild sports news controversy of how Bishop Sycamore ended up playing football on ESPN.

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Rocky Parker is the Digital Content Lead at Cision PR Newswire. She works with journalists, bloggers, and content creators to create their targeted newsfeeds from PR Newswire for Journalists. Rocky has also counseled on content writing best practices. Check out her previous posts for Beyond Bylines. In her free time, Rocky can usually be found cooking, binge-watching a new show, or playing with her puppy, Hudson. 

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