Media Insider: OpenAI Funds Journalism Ethics Project, New York Times Reports Q2 Results

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

OpenAI funds new journalism ethics initiative
Axios | Sara Fischer

ChatGPT parent company OpenAI will use a $395,000 grant to fund a new journalism ethics initiative at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. “The initiative will provide workshops and discussions on existing and emerging journalism ethics issues,” said Stephen Adler, former editor-in-chief of Reuters, who will lead the initiative. The initiative will produce articles and papers for its own website and other outlets. The funding is OpenAI’s first-ever academic grant focused on journalism – which it relies on to train its algorithms. “As trust in the media declines, and advances in technology pose fresh challenges, practicing journalism ethically is more important than it’s ever been,” Adler said in a statement.

Read next: LocalLens is an AI-driven website that “wants to be a kind of metal detector for local news — claiming to surface stories that might otherwise remain buried.”

New York Times grows digital subscribers, reports $46.4 million profit
Poynter | Angela Fu

In its second quarter, The New York Times grew its digital subscriber base by 180,000 and reported a profit of $46.6 million. Higher subscriptions and a strong quarter from review site Wirecutter were largely to thank for a 6.3% increase in revenue year over year, to $590.9 million. The Athletic reported a loss of $7.8 million during the second quarter, an improvement from last year’s $12.1 million loss. “We view the quarter’s subscriber results as a testament to our broad and valuable product portfolio, which continues to attract a large engaged audience despite the ongoing reality of less traffic from the platform and a news cycle less dominated by singular stories that capture unprecedented attention,” CEO Meredith Kopit Levien said. The company hopes to eventually get at least half of its total subscribers on the bundle, which includes journalism on, Wirecutter, and The Athletic, as well as the Cooking and Games verticals.

More earnings news: Dotdash Meredith reported a 15% decline in Q2 2023 revenue YoY and a 35% improvement in operating loss over the prior year. 

Media startup Puck raises more than $10M
Axios | Sara Fischer

Media startup Puck has raised over $10 million in a Series B growth round. Given the slowdown in dealmaking across the media industry, any funding at all is significant. The funding will be used to grow the staff at Puck, which currently has 31 employees, and expand its subscription and ad businesses. “As a result of this fundraise, we’ll be hiring more great authors, operators, and marketers; building out our I.P. business; and expanding our footprint into Hollywood and Washington, D.C., in particular,” Puck co-founder and editor-in-chief Jon Kelly told Axios. Puck’s unique business model allows journalists to take a cut of the subscription revenue their newsletters bring in within a broader Puck-branded subscription bundle. “We’re more committed than ever to redefining the business model of journalism, and ensuring that the creators remain in the middle of the equation,” Kelly said.

Read next: Report for America co-founder Steven Waldman writes for the Atlantic that “funding local news would more than pay for itself.”

ESPN is jumping into sports gambling in a $2 billion deal
CNN | Ramishah Maruf

Casino owner PENN Entertainment has agreed to a $2 billion dollar deal with ESPN to create ESPN Bet. ESPN Bet will replace Barstool Sportsbook and will be promoted by ESPN talent. “ESPN Bet will be deeply integrated with ESPN’s broad editorial, content, digital and linear product, and sports programming ecosystem,” Jay Snowden, CEO and president of PENN, said in a statement. PENN will make $1.5 billion in cash payments to ESPN over the next decade and grant ESPN around $500 million worth of its shares. ESPN also gets to designate a Penn board member after three years.

Related: As part of the deal, PENN sold Barstool Sports back to founder David Portnoy in exchange for “non-compete and other restrictive covenants.”

Newmark J-School launches data journalism ‘equity’ campaign
Editor & Publisher

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York is launching a major effort to train students from underrepresented backgrounds to become highly sought data reporters. The Equity Through Data Project recently secured more than $600,000 in grants that will send selected students to work in local newsrooms. “The Equity Through Data Project is the embodiment of the J-School’s mission: bringing greater representation to our profession while leading the way in an area of journalism that’s only become more crucial with the explosion of Artificial Intelligence technology,” said Dean Graciela Mochkofsky. Students in the J-School’s incoming Class of 2024 can apply for the Equity Through Data Project during their first semester.

Finally, in case you missed it, Paramount has agreed to sell publishing powerhouse Simon and Schuster to private equity firm KKR in a $1.62 billion deal.

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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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