Media Insider: New York Times Buys Wordle, Apple News Launches Local Newsletter

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

Exterior photo of New York Times office - Media news recap 

The New York Times Buys Popular Word Game Wordle

The New York Times has acquired Wordle, the explosively popular game that gives players six chances to guess a five-letter word daily. The Times is adding the puzzle to its portfolio of word games such as The Crossword, The Mini and Spelling Bee. Purchased for a price “in the low seven figures,” Wordle will initially remain free to new and existing players. “We don’t have set plans for the game’s future,” said Jordan Cohen, executive director at The Times. As of December 2021, the Times had over 1 million Games subscriptions.

The Times also announced it surpassed 10 million paid subscriptions, a milestone for the publisher.

Media Groups Divided Over Bill Targeting Google, Facebook Digital Ad Market Power

A proposal aimed at giving news publishers the power to bargain with dominant tech platforms over the distribution of their content is dividing media groups, with some advocates arguing the proposed solution could actually hurt the small and local outlets it aims to help. Members of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee also clashed over the proposal during a hearing this week, despite a version of the bill being introduced last year with bipartisan support. Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said the proposal would help ensure the survival of local news outlets, but ranking member Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) bashed the proposal as a misguided effort and said the proposal could lead to a news “cartel,” a concern also raised by public advocates who sent a letter to the senators warning against the bill.

In Canada, the country’s heritage minister said the digital giants must pay Canadian media outlets for reusing their news content.

Capital B, Written for and by Black People, Launches as a Nonprofit Newsroom

The new nonprofit newsroom Capital B launched on Monday with a national hub and one local newsroom in Atlanta. The news startup plans to publish investigative journalism alongside practical information (including “how to find affordable housing, apply for benefits, and vote”) that’ll remain accessible (unpaywalled) to all. Capital B’s team in Atlanta — where roughly half of residents are Black — will be the first of a network of local newsrooms anchored by the national hub. It expects to add another local newsroom before the end of the year and another two local newsrooms before the end of 2023.

ICYMI: Univision, Televisa Close Deal, Forming Spanish-Language Media Giant

Apple News Launches Its First Daily Local Newsletter, Targeting Bay Area Readers

Apple News is introducing its first daily local newsletter for the Bay Area and is actively exploring expanding the offering to other cities. The Bay Area daily local newsletter, which is reminiscent of a daily local paper, includes top stories across local news, sports, politics, dining and more. The stories are compiled from numerous publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, SF Gate, Eater San Francisco, KQED, The Oaklandside and others. All of the stories included in the newsletter are curated by Apple News editors, as opposed to being selected by algorithms — a decision that should cut down on the recirculation of clickbait and other low-value content.

Read next: The Austin American-Statesman removed monthly articles limits for non-subscribers.

Hearst Newspapers Plans a New Data and Product Hub for 2022

Hearst Newspapers is kicking off the new year with plans for a shared development hub, hiring 12 product and data specialists and another eight interactive graphic artists. The company says that it’s the single largest digital expansion ever for the newspaper group. The company closed the year with more than 300,000 paid digital-only subscriptions, an increase of 100,000, or 50%, from the year before. It is targeting 100,000 more this year. Tim O’Rourke, who is heading what the company calls its DevHub from San Francisco, says the team will be geographically dispersed and that hiring is not expected to be completed until midyear.

In more newspaper news, CherryRoad Media is acquiring a group of newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma.

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Maria Perez is director of web operations at Cision. In her spare time, she enjoys playing word games, watching too much TV, and chasing squirrels with her dog Molly.

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