Media Insider: NYT Cuts Sports Desk, San Diego Union-Tribune Sold

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

NYT cuts sports desk to focus on The Athletic
Axios | Sara Fischer

The New York Times announced this week that it is shuttering its standalone sports desk and will shift the company’s sports coverage to content from The Athletic, which The Times acquired for $550 million in cash in early 2022. Since the acquisition, although its losses have continued to shrink, The Athletic has yet to reach profitability and cut nearly 4% of its staff – about 20 roles – last month. Prior to the announcement, 28 writers and editors from The Times’ sports department wrote a letter to management voicing concern about the paper’s plans to integrate the sports section with The Athletic. The changes will not result in any layoffs, and “current Sports staff will transition to other desks around the newsroom,” the memo from NYT management read.

In other big news this week, Fox was hit with another defamation lawsuit, this one from a pro-Trump protester.

Los Angeles Times owners sell San Diego Union-Tribune to publishing powerhouse
Associated Press | Staff

The San Diego Union-Tribune has been sold to MediaNews Group, which owns hundreds of papers around the country. MediaNews’ parent company, Alden Global Capital, is a New York hedge fund that has been buying up newspapers across the country and faced criticism for slashing budgets and cutting jobs. The new owner is offering employee buyouts through next Monday and may lay people off, though they will try to avoid newsroom cuts, the Union-Tribune reported. The LA Times and Union-Tribune were purchased in 2018 by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and his family for $500 million.

Speaking of the LA Times, it launched “De Los,” a free, standalone vertical to reach English-dominant Latino news consumers.

The BBC suspends presenter over claims he paid a teenager for explicit photos
Associated Press | Jill Lawless

The BBC has suspended a leading male presenter (later identified as Huw Edwards) after learning of allegations that he paid $45,000 to a 17-year-old in 2020 in exchange for sexually explicit photos. The UK’s publicly funded broadcaster said it was working to establish the facts of “a complex and fast-moving set of circumstances.” The young person has not been identified and before Edwards was identified, several of the BBC’s best-known stars spoke up to say that it wasn’t them. The BBC faces greater scrutiny than other broadcasters because it is taxpayer-funded and committed to remaining impartial in its news coverage.

Read next: New analysis shows a large gender gap among news consumers, with 60.1% of new site visits made by men.

Newsroom unions are pushing management to negotiate AI use
Digiday | Sara Guaglione

As more media companies work to adopt AI, newsroom unions are urging management to agree to new terms on how the technology will affect employees and editorial production. Insider’s union and the company reached a tentative agreement to ensure the newsroom will have at least one union member involved in conversations about using new tech like AI. And Dow Jones’ union proposed new AI-related language as part of their ongoing contract negotiations. “We’re all kind of scrambling to try to figure out how to handle it,” said one editor at G/O Media. If contract negotiations during the pandemic are any indicator, though, the process of adding language around a specific issue like AI to the contracts will be a lengthy one.

Read next: NiemanLab has a look at how 21 newsrooms around the world have laid out their own AI policies and plans.

Instagram’s Threads surpasses 100 million users
The Verge | Jay Peters, Jon Porter

Threads reached the milestone of 100 million users dramatically faster than ChatGPT, hitting the mark after launching only several days earlier. The launch has been “way beyond our expectations,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. The users also appear to be quite active on the platform, with more than 95 million posts on the network within days of its debut. Meta isn’t specifically trying to replace Twitter, and it’s very early days for Threads, but based on the initial looks, it could be the place users go to for conversation-based social media interactions.

ICYMI: Data showed that web traffic to Twitter was “tanking,” down 5% for the first two full days Threads was generally available.

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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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