Media Insider: Gannett Forecasts More Newspaper Sales, Texas Observer Avoids Closure
Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.
Gannett CEO forecasts more daily newspaper sales
Axios | Sara Fischer
More newspaper sales could be on the way for Gannett, which has lost roughly half of its workforce since merging with GateHouse in 2019. Gannett’s strategy in the wake of the merger has been to shed assets and focus on fewer, more lucrative markets. CEO Mike Reed said on last month’s earnings call that the company “would entertain bids on any of our markets.” Gannett’s top 100 or so daily newspaper markets bring in roughly 90% of its newspaper business revenues. While it’s unclear how many more daily papers the company will shed, Reed suggested that the company would ultimately land somewhere between the 217 daily newspaper markets it’s in today and its top 100 performing markets.
Also from Axios: Monumental Sports & Entertainment is planning a major rebrand and investment in its regional sports network, NBC Sports Washington.
We Did it, Y’all! Texas Observer Will Remain Open!
Texas Observer | Staff
Just days after plans were announced to shutter the 68-year-old progressive publication, the board of the Texas Democracy Foundation, the nonprofit parent organization of the Texas Observer, voted unanimously to rescind its plan. Shortly after the planned closure was announced, staff organized a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $275,000 on Wednesday from more than 3,000 supporters. “This is wonderful news,” said Editor-in-Chief Gabriel Arana. “The Observer is indispensable to Texas and to democracy.” In addition to the GoFundMe effort, readers, former staffers and former board members, and prominent journalists from around the country expressed their solidarity with the campaign to keep the magazine afloat.
Check out the Texas Observer’s GoFundMe page, which has now raised more than $300,000.
NPR cancels four podcasts amid layoffs
NPR | David Folkenflik, Mary Yang
NPR is canceling four of its podcasts as it lays off 10% of its staff members and tries to close a budget shortfall. The cuts will mean the end of the seasonal podcasts “Invisibilia,” “Louder Than a Riot,” and “Rough Translation” and the comedy podcast “Everyone & Their Mom.” The number of employees being laid off is the largest for the company since the Great Recession in 2008. NPR’s budget deficit is more than $30 million, according to the outlet. The company reported that most of the staff being affected will stay in their roles until April 28. NPR chief executive John Lansing said the layoffs are not affecting National Public Media, which runs ad-services, as it was already downsized earlier this year. Lansing said the company is also combining the newsroom with its programming division, which produces most of its podcasts.
This is interesting: Newsletter platform Substack is inviting creators to invest in the company.
Digital Startup The Messenger Acquires The Grid
MediaPost | Ray Schultz
JAF Communications Inc., publisher of digital news startup The Messenger, has acquired The Grid, a news site. In addition, The Grid’s owner and principal investor, Abu Dhabi-based IMI, will make a minority investment in JAF Communications. “Merging Grid’s brand and exceptional editorial and business team into The Messenger will significantly strengthen our position when we launch in May,” said Jimmy Finkelstein, chairman and CEO of The Messenger. The Grid, which was launched early in 2022, will be integrated into The Messenger prior to launch this May.
Read next: Axios is launching Axios Hill Leaders, a new daily newsletter covering congressional leaders.
Internews, Microsoft, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have announced a new public-private partnership to develop a Media Viability Accelerator. The web-based platform aims to help news media become more financially sustainable by accessing solutions and market insights to inform effective business strategies. Participating media outlets will learn from a community of peers, access a multilingual tool that visualizes media performance data, and receive actionable daily alerts based on thousands of market and media sources – all free of charge. Other organizations supporting the effort include Free Press Unlimited, Global Forum for Media Development, IREX, SembraMedia, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Speaking of Microsoft: The company has introduced plans for additional ads in its AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser, with a goal to drive more traffic to publisher sites.