Media Insider: Washington Post Staffers Strike, Hearst Acquires Puzzmo

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

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Washington Post journalists launch historic 24-hour strike
Axios | Cuneyt Dil

About 750 Washington Post staffers walked off the job Thursday in a historic 24-hour strike. It is one of the biggest labor strikes in D.C. in recent memory, and Posties are asking readers to not cross the picket line — in other words, to not read or engage with any Post content. The strike comes after 18 months of contract negotiations and last week’s warnings that layoffs could be imminent if more staffers don’t take voluntary buyouts. The Post Guild says that “management has refused to bargain in good faith.” The union’s concerns also include pay equity, raises in the face of record inflation, and remote work policies. The strike is worrying some leaders inside the 24/7 global newsroom as they try to fill a homepage and print newspaper.

ICYMI: The Forward drops its paywall and asks for donations.

Media Biz Buffeted by Another Wave of Layoffs
The Messenger | Lily Meier

Vox Media and Condé Nast have laid off employees, according to posts shared on X and a union announcement. The job cuts come after a series of downsizings across major news outlets this fall and show that a sustainable revenue model continues to elude the news industry two decades into a transition toward digital delivery. Vox Media let go of 16 staffers at Vox, a progressive-leaning online news outlet geared toward in-depth explanations of news events, and four from The Dodo, a separate title about animals. The cuts represent about 4% of the organization. Meanwhile, Bloomberg announced it would scale back its weekly business magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, to a monthly print edition in 2024, citing the difficult market for weekly news magazines.

Spotify announced it is axing 17% of its workforce in the company’s third round of layoffs this year.

Paste Magazine acquires shuttered feminist site Jezebel
Talking Biz News | Mariam Ahmed

Last month, G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller broke the news to staff in a memo that Jezebel would cease operations after 16 years in business and the entire team of 23 would be laid off. At that time, Spanfeller said financial constraints and the inability to find a buyer for the site had led to its closure. Now, Jezebel will live to see another day as it has been bought by Paste Magazine in an all-cash deal. Paste founder and editor-in-chief Josh Jackson is in plans for a soft launch for Jezebel, with new content being produced by Paste’s writers until an editor-in-chief is found and new staff is hired for the site. It is also reported that priority will be given to the laid-off staff.

ICYMI: Meta faces a $600 million lawsuit from a group representing 83 Spanish media outlets.

Puzzmo gets acquired as the newspaper games space heats up
The Verge | Andrew Webster

The battle over newspaper-style puzzle games is intensifying. Hearst has announced that it has acquired Puzzmo, a puzzle gaming platform led by indie developers Zach Gage and Orta Therox. The move puts Hearst directly up against the gaming efforts of The New York Times. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Puzzmo launched in a limited beta form in October and is billed as a reimagining of the classic newspaper games page. It features a number of notable Gage-designed titles like SpellTower, Really Bad Chess, and Typeshift, along with a streamlined daily crossword puzzle. The site also features community features like leaderboards and multiplayer options. As part of the deal, Gage and Therox will continue to develop Puzzmo, which currently operates as a website, with a mobile app in the works. Puzzmo will also begin rolling out to readers of more than 50 Hearst publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Popular Mechanics. Additionally, Hearst will be licensing out Puzzmo games to other publishers.

Read next: The BBC relaunched its North American website as part of a broader push to grow in the U.S. and abroad.

BuzzFeed Inc. Granted Extension on Nasdaq Delisting
Adweek | Mark Sternberg

BuzzFeed Inc. has been granted an additional 180 days to raise the price of its stock above $1, according to SEC filings. The publicly traded media company had originally received a notice of delisting from the Nasdaq on May 31 warning the publisher that it had 180 days, ending on Nov. 27, to get its stock above the $1 threshold. Companies have to meet a number of criteria in order to trade on the Nasdaq, one of which is that their bid price must be above a $1 minimum. BuzzFeed Inc. stock is currently trading at 30 cents. The publisher now has until May 28, 2024, to meet the minimum bid requirement. If it is unable to meet the minimum bid requirement by May 28, it will receive another notice of delisting, which it could again appeal.

Another interesting read: News publishers hesitate to commit to investing more into Threads next year despite growing engagement.

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Maria Perez is director of web operations at Cision. In her spare time, she enjoys gaming, watching too much TV, and chasing squirrels with her dog Cece.

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