Media Insider: Protocol Shutters, Jonathan Swan Heads to NYT, BBC Has Plans to Crack U.S. News

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

Protocol, the tech-news website, will shutter and lay off its entire staff
CNN | Oliver Darcy

Protocol staffers were told in an all-hands meeting that the tech news website would stop publishing on Thursday of this week. While its flagship newsletter, Source Code, will live on for several more weeks, the rest of the outlet’s newsletters will stop after Tuesday. The technology news startup was launched in early 2020 by former Politico owner Robert Allbritton and was immediately hit with cuts to staff due to the onset of the pandemic. “The reality is that the ad market tightened, particularly in the tech space, which exacerbated some existing challenges that are typical of a new startup,” one person explained. The closure will affect 60 staffers, who will remain active employees through Dec. 16 and will be eligible for eight weeks of severance.

Read next: Bloomberg reports that media companies are having their worst year in three decades.

Axios’ Jonathan Swan heading to NYT
Axios | Sara Fischer

Political reporter Jonathan Swan is leaving Axios and will join the New York Times to cover politics and the 2024 election. “Axios has been my home and family for six years,” Swan told Axios.”I will forever be grateful for Jim, Mike and Roy taking a chance on me and for all of my supportive colleagues.” During his tenure at Axios, Swan developed a reputation for getting big scoops and providing detailed and accurate reports of the inner workings of the Trump White House. He won an Emmy for a viral 2020 interview with then-President Trump. “[W]hat makes Swan special is his heart and values,” Axios CEO Jim VandeHei wrote in a note to staff. Swan will start at the Times in January.

Speaking of the Times, here’s a look at how the newly-created role of Wordle editor actually works.

How the BBC plans to crack US news (without getting sucked into the culture wars)
Press Gazette | Bron Maher

In recent months, the BBC has ramped up investment in its North American operation, doubling its journalist headcount and hiring two new editorial executives. The digital director of BBC News, Naja Nielsen, told Press Gazette that the publisher’s culture of impartiality will make it likely to attract audiences in the U.S., where the BBC sees “distrust in a lot of information.” Nielsen said, “Because we have no dog in the fight, because we’re not fearful of anyone… It would almost be an antidote to the disinformation that is really kind of free flowing in the American market.” Nielsen said the BBC now reaches 50 million people weekly in the U.S. She expects criticism of the BBC’s work to grow as the audience does, but she says that she welcomes the debate.

Also making their way across the pond, London’s Sunday Times editor Emma Tucker is expected to take the top editorial job at the Wall Street Journal.

CVC, Group Black partner on bid for Vox Media
Axios | Sara Fischer

In their second potential transaction announced this month, CVC Capital Partners and Group Black are reportedly pursuing a joint bid to buy Vox Media. Vox, which was valued at around $1 billion in 2015, runs popular digital media brands like Eater and SB Nation. CVC and Group Black sent Vox a term sheet outlining details for a potential deal, even though Vox is not looking to sell at the moment, according to a source. CVC, a European private equity giant, is eyeing a consolidation move into more media assets across the U.S. Group Black is trying to get marketers and ad agencies to shift more of their ad spend to Black-owned media outlets. All three companies declined to comment.

On the nonprofit news front, Signal Cleveland launched this week with $7.5 million in funding, 15 staffers, freelancers, and a newsletter.

Elon Musk gives Twitter staff deadline to commit to being ‘hardcore’
The Guardian | Dan Milmo

The remaining Twitter staffers were given a Thursday deadline to either commit to working “long hours at high intensity” or leave the company with three months’ severance pay. New owner Elon Musk asked employees to commit to this “extremely hardcore” mindset in order to build the next iteration of Twitter. Staffers needed to make their decisions by 5 p.m. ET on Thursday. In his message to staff, Musk added that Twitter would be “much more engineering-driven” under his ownership and that “those writing great code will constitute the majority of our team.” The ultimatum comes after Musk laid off 50% of the company’s workforce and more than 4,000 contractors.

On the flip side, as tech giants like Twitter, Meta, and Amazon are making huge cuts, TikTok plans to double its staff.

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Rocky Parker is the Manager of Audience and Journalist Engagement at Cision PR Newswire. She's been with the company since 2010 and has worked with journalists and bloggers as well as PR and comms professionals. Outside of work, she can be found trying a new recipe, binging a new show, or cuddling with her pitbull, Hudson.

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