Media Insider: Gannett ends online comments, Ozy attempts a comeback, NBC/MSNBC employees plan walkout
Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.
Gannett ends online comments for a majority of its news sites
Poynter | Angela Fu
Gannett ended online commenting for most of its news sites, citing difficulties in dedicating staff to moderate comment sections. Some of Gannett’s larger outlets, including the Detroit Free Press, The Arizona Republic and The Cincinnati Enquirer, will retain online comments. However, the vast majority of the company’s roughly 200 dailies will no longer allow readers to post comments directly to their websites. Earlier in the week, several outlets ran versions of a statement announcing the change. They explained that online comment spaces often “quickly devolve” when left unmonitored, leading to off-topic discussions and verbal abuse. In the past, Gannett has asked its journalists to help moderate these spaces, but that will no longer be possible due to “changes in staffing.”
Media company Ozy is attempting a comeback
Semafor | Max Tani
Ozy, the youth-focused media company that imploded in 2021 over a misleading pitch to potential investors, is raising money again – pitching itself as a “fresh,” “hip” media brand for a younger generation. In a 30-minute-long presentation to potential advertisers and investors at the MAGNA Equity Upfronts in Manhattan, Ozy founder Carlos Watson and his team implored brands to invest in the digital media company “if you want the opportunity to spread love.”
NBC, MSNBC employees plan walkout in protest of layoffs
Washington Post | Jeremy Barr
More than 200 employees of NBC represented by the NewsGuild of New York plan to walk off the job for 24 hours to signal frustration with the company’s decision to lay off seven union-covered journalists last month. The NBC News Digital union has filed an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board over the cuts, which it described as abrupt and illegal, as well as a claim that some digital staffers for MSNBC were told by management that they were no longer part of the union. A letter was delivered to NBC management stating the reasoning for the walkout on Wednesday morning. Soon after the action was announced internally, guild-covered NBC and MSNBC staffers began changing their statuses on an internal messaging system to “ready to walk out.”
Jimmy Finkelstein raises $50M for new media venture
Axios | Sara Fischer
Jimmy Finkelstein, a longtime media investor and entrepreneur who formerly owned The Hill, has raised $50 million for his new venture called The Messenger. In total, he’s hired roughly 35 people, with the goal of hiring several hundred more throughout the year. He’s already brought on most of the company’s senior leadership team, including a top editor, as he readies for a launch in the second quarter. Finkelstein began raising money for his new venture in late 2021, shortly after he sold The Hill, a D.C.-based political newspaper, to Nexstar for $130 million.
Also from Axios: Vox Media has raised $100 million from Penske Media Corp., making Penske its largest shareholder
Twitter Blue introduces 4,000 character Tweets, says half ads coming soon
TechCrunch | Ivan Mehta
Twitter announced the ability to post longer tweets for paid users. Instead of being limited to 280 characters, Blue subscribers can post tweets that are up to 4,000 characters long. The same limit applies to quote tweets and replies. Twitter said that along with long tweets, people can post media like images or videos. While only Twitter Blue subscribers can post long tweets, all users will be able to read them. You will see only the first 280 characters on the timeline, and if you want to read more, you can click on “Show more” as shown in the tweet below. Twitter also said on its Blue support page that it will soon reduce ads for Blue subscribers to half. Elon Musk has previously talked about a costlier ad-free subscription plan as well.
Speaking of social media: Google, Meta and large media agencies are increasingly focused on AI-powered advertising.