Media Insider: Gannett Announces Layoffs, Morning Brew Builds Creator Program, Google Wins Defamation Battle
Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media stories from the week.
Gannett lays off more than 70 journalists after dismal second quarter results
Poynter | Angela Fu
Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain with more than 250 papers, executed a round of layoffs a week after the company announced its second quarter results: a loss of $54 million on revenues of $749 million. Gannett Media president Maribel Perez Wadsworth told staff in an email that the company would make “necessary but painful reductions to staffing” and eliminate certain open positions. Those layoffs began Aug. 12, and it remains unclear exactly how many people were let go. As of Thursday afternoon, Poynter had counted at least 70 terminations across 54 newsrooms — including flagship paper USA Today — but there are likely many more. Spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton declined to answer questions about how many employees were laid off, which departments and/or newsrooms they worked in, and whether Gannett had any additional rounds of cuts planned.
Grafton News, a Gannett newspaper in Massachusetts, will cease publication after its only staffer was laid off during the cuts.
26 News Outlets, Press Freedom Groups Urge U.S. Dept. of Justice to Protect Reporters from Anti-Abortion Legislation
Mother Jones | Staff
As the campaign to end abortion gathers speed across the country, conservatives are now pushing state-level legislation that could threaten press freedoms and criminalize news outlets and reporters for posting stories perceived to be helping someone access abortion care, according to a letter signed by a coalition of 26 news outlets, press freedom organizations, and allied groups sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Spearheaded by Mother Jones and Rewire News Group and signed by news outlets and trade associations including BuzzFeed News, HuffPost, and Radio Television Digital News Association, the letter urged the Justice Department to shield news organizations and reporters from model legislation, circulated by the National Right to Life Committee, that they fear could move through states in the coming months. The proposed legislation prohibits “aiding and abetting” someone who is seeking an abortion, including by “hosting or maintaining a website…that encourages or facilitates efforts to obtain an illegal abortion.” In essence, the coalition says, the proposed language could be interpreted to criminalize news organizations and reporters for merely posting stories about abortion on their websites.
Read the full letter here on Mother Jones.
Morning Brew building creator program
Axios | Sara Fischer
Morning Brew, the business media company that caters to millennials, has launched a creator program that allows independent personalities to work for the company full time while maintaining separate and distinct products and brands. The program will help Morning Brew expand into niche areas, like personal finance, entrepreneurship and productivity, said Austin Rief, CEO of Morning Brew. It will also help the company continue to expand into business verticals outside of newsletters. The company currently works with seven creators, all of which are on Morning Brew’s payroll full time. Rief declined to provide details about how the creators are compensated differently from full-time reporters, but he alluded to the fact that they each have unique deals.
In more launch news, The Daily Beast will extend its journalism into a new pop culture brand, Obsessed, that will cover the streaming landscape.
Google wins defamation battle as Australia’s high court finds tech giant not a publisher
The Guardian | Staff
Australia’s highest court has ruled Google is not a publisher of the websites it links to in search results, finding search engine hyperlinks do not amount to publication. A majority of high court justices on Wednesday found Google was not the publisher of a defamatory article by the Age about a Victorian lawyer, as it was a search engine that only provided hyperlinks to such content. “In reality, a hyperlink is merely a tool which enables a person to navigate to another webpage,” a joint statement by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel and Justice Jacqueline Gleeson said. Google took the matter to the high court after Victoria’s court of appeal in 2021 refused its attempts to overturn a defamation finding in favor of George Defteros, a lawyer for underworld figures.
Top 50 most popular news sites in the US in June: New York Times continues strong run of growth
Press Gazette | Aisha Majid
CNN was once again the biggest news site in the US in June (373 million visits, down 5% year-on-year). It was followed by msn.com, nytimes.com, foxnews.com and Google News in a top five largely unchanged from recent months. The New York Times was the fastest-growing top ten news site in the US in June, with visits to the US publisher’s site up 21% year-on-year to 310.4 million. Microsoft’s news aggregator and portal MSN was the only other top ten site by number of visits to see year-on-year growth in June (340.8 million visits, up 1%). Other major sites saw traffic fall or stay static. There were 99.4 million visits to nypost.com (no change year-on-year), 105 million to business news site CNBC.com (down 1%) and 103.3 million to Yahoo News (down 1%).
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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.