Media Insider: Gannett sues Google, Bild cuts 200 jobs, ProPublica reporters unionize
Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.
The largest newspaper publisher in the US sues Google, alleging online ad monopoly
CNN | Catherine Thorbecke
Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the United States, is suing Google, alleging the tech giant holds a monopoly over the digital ad market. The publisher of USA Today and more than 200 local publications filed the lawsuit in a New York federal court and is seeking unspecified damages. Gannett argued in court documents that Google and its parent company, Alphabet, control how publishers buy and sell ads online. “The result is dramatically less revenue for publishers and Google’s ad-tech rivals, while Google enjoys exorbitant monopoly profits,” the lawsuit states. Google controls about a quarter of the US digital advertising market, with Meta, Amazon, and TikTok combining for another third, according to eMarketer.
Gannett also announced plans to include generative artificial intelligence in the system it uses to publish stories.
German tabloid Bild cuts 200 jobs and says some roles will be replaced by AI
The Guardian | Jon Henley
Germany’s Bild tabloid, the biggest-selling newspaper in Europe, has announced a €100m cost-cutting program that will lead to about 200 redundancies, and warned staff that it expects to make further editorial cuts due to “the opportunities of artificial intelligence.” Bild’s publisher, Axel Springer SE, said in an email to staff that it would “unfortunately be parting ways with colleagues who have tasks that in the digital world are performed by AI and/or automated processes.” The short-term job losses, expected to be in the region of 200, are due to a reorganization of Bild’s regional newspaper business and are not believed to be related to AI. The moves follow an announcement in February that the publisher was to be a “purely digital media company.”
In more AI news: A new bipartisan bill calls for establishing a commission to explore potential regulations for artificial intelligence.
ProPublica, lauded journalism nonprofit, is latest newsroom to unionize
Washington Post | Will Sommer and Lauren Kaori Gurley
Reporters at investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica announced they are unionizing, bringing an industry wave of labor organizing to a somewhat unexpected corner of the media world. In a statement, staffers said a union “is essential to preserving the best parts of working at ProPublica and ensuring our values do not waver regardless of leadership changes or turbulence within the industry.” The campaign could shift labor relations at ProPublica, which is one of few national news outlets of its size and distinction where staffers do not have union representation. In a memo to staff, ProPublica President Robin Sparkman and Editor in Chief Stephen Engelberg acknowledged the notice it had received from the new union and that “once the details are worked out, we plan to recognize the union.”
The editorial staff at the Athens Banner-Herald and Savannah Morning News, both owned by Gannett, also announced their intention to unionize.
Fortress Investment Group set to acquire Vice Media
Axios | Kerry Flynn, Sara Fischer
A Fortress Investment Group-led syndicate is set to acquire Vice Media, leading to the cancelation of Vice’s bankruptcy auction. The pending deal marks another chapter in the distressed media company’s dramatic history that once included a $5.7 billion valuation. The consortium of investors, which also includes Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital, presented a “stalking horse bid” of $225 million to the court-supervised sale process. Vice said in an email to its employees that it expects the transaction to close around July 7. That bid comes at a lower price than an offer from GoDigital, a privately held holding group that owns Latino digital media giant NGLmitú. GoDigital said in a statement that to its knowledge, its bid was the only outside bid submitted. “The sellers chose to turn down this opportunity even though it was a bid higher than their own,” it said.
Also from Axios: Twitter plans to bring on new ad tech partners to reassure anxious advertisers.
The 2023 Reuters Digital News Report is out, and things aren’t pretty
WNIP | Contributor
Recently, the Reuters Institute published its latest Digital News Report for 2023. As in past years, it provides not only an informative overview of the state of the news industry today, but also offers vital statistics and facts about consumer attitudes towards the consumption of digital content, and their willingness to pay for it. Here are three interesting takeaways from the report: 1) people don’t want multiple subscriptions to news, confirming that subscription fatigue is real; 2) readers, especially younger people, do not want to be “tied down” by one subscription; rather, they want to access multiple brands, with little or no friction, for a fair price; 3) people prefer to access news via alternative routes such as social media rather than the publication’s website or app.