Media Insider: CNN Reins in Partisanship, Latino Media Network Launches, Gannett Reorganizes
Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.
CNN evaluating partisan talent
Axios | Sara Fischer
CNN’s new boss, Chris Licht, is evaluating whether personalities and programming that grew polarizing during the Trump era can adapt to the network’s new priority to be less partisan. If talent cannot adjust to a less partisan tone and strategy, they could be ousted, sources told Axios. For on-air talent, that includes engaging in respectful interviews that don’t feel like PR stunts. For producers and bookers, that includes making programming decisions that are focused on nuance, not noise. Licht doesn’t want to necessarily shy away from personality programming, especially in prime time, but he wants to ensure that partisan voices don’t dominate in a way that harms CNN, a source notes.
The new boss has another message for staffers: Cool it with the “Breaking News” banner.
Female-led Latino Media Network launches with $60 million acquisition of TelevisaUnivision radio stations
Forbes | Veronica Villafañe
Two Latina social entrepreneurs launched the Latino Media Network (LMN), a new media content creation, talent acquisition and distribution company aimed at reaching the Hispanic market. It will initially focus on audio. Stephanie Valencia and Jess Morales Rocketto raised $80 million – one of the largest capital raises of a Latina-owned and operated startup in the U.S. – from a diverse set of investors. They also tapped a series of high-profile entrepreneurs, media, and celebrity advisors and board members to support the new venture, including actress Eva Longoria, news personality Maria Elena Salinas, and Christy Haubegger, founder of Latina magazine and current WarnerMedia executive. To coincide with its launch, the company also announced it signed a definitive agreement with TelevisaUnivision to purchase 18 radio stations in eight of the top 10 Latino markets in a $60 million all-cash deal.
Read next: On Monday, The Roku Channel launched Espacio Latino, a new dedicated Spanish-language content hub.
Gannett has reorganized with a new emphasis on digital marketing services
Poynter | Rick Edmonds
Gannett announced a strategic reorganization, dialing back on top executive effort devoted to publishing while elevating its smaller but growing digital marketing services business to one of two operating units. Maribel Perez Wadsworth, already in charge of USA Today and the regional USA Today network of 250 newspapers and sites, becomes president of Gannett Media, the publishing division. Two other publishing executives — Kevin Gentzel, the top advertising and revenue officer for the last seven years, and Bernie Szachara, who had been president of U.S. publishing operations — are leaving the company. The move puts a fresh focus on digital marketing, which currently generates only about a seventh of the total revenue of the company, but is growing and profitable.
In more Gannett news, the publisher is cutting back on daily editorial pages at its regional papers.
Vox has launched a new service journalism section focused on giving readers “deeply sourced information, helpful frameworks, and actionable advice to help them live better lives individually and collectively.” The section will showcase reporting on many aspects of modern life, including mental health, relationships, community, work, money and more. The launch includes contributions on how money is emotional, though personal finance advice rarely accounts for that; how to talk to teens about body image; the case for having fewer friends, and how to take action in the climate crisis.
Religion of Sports raises $50M in Series B funding round led by Shamrock Capital
The Hollywood Reporter | Alex Weprin
Religion of Sports, the media production company founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan and Tom Brady, has raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by Shamrock Capital and joined by Elysian Park Ventures and Cerro Capital. Chopra said the raise will be used to help “grow the company from the production company model, which is what we have operated in for a long time, to really controlling our own destiny. To really bet on ourselves, bet on talent we believe in, bet on stories we believe in.” Religion of Sports has leaned on its founders’ relationships with athletes to emphasize sports and sports-adjacent content, but the company says that with its new funding it will be entering new genres and formats, including non-sports content and music.
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Maria Perez is director of web operations at Cision. In her spare time, she enjoys gaming, watching too much TV, and chasing squirrels with her dog Molly.