Media Insider: X’s Value Cut, The Messenger Plans Layoffs, Cheddar News Furloughs Workers

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

X now worth 71% less than when Musk bought it, Fidelity estimates
Fox Business | Anders Hagstrom

X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, is worth 71% less now than it was when Elon Musk bought it in late 2022 for $44 billion, according to Fidelity. The investment group made the valuation on Monday, the second time it dropped the value of X in 2023. Fidelity was part of the investment group that helped Musk take over Twitter in a deal consisting of $33.5 billion in equity, with the remainder financed with debt to convert it into a privately held company after the deal closed in October 2022.

Speaking of X, the network briefly brought back headlines to user posts containing links, but appeared to revert back the next day.

Oregon newspaper said it’s laying off staff after an employee embezzled thousands of dollars
Business Insider | Rebecca Ungarino

Staff at Eugene Weekly, a local newspaper that had recently celebrated 40 years of publishing, said in a statement on its website that “someone we once trusted” embezzled “thousands upon thousands” of funds that belonged to the paper, which prints about 30,000 free copies each week. The paper learned that vendors it works with hadn’t been paid in months. It had to lay off its entire 10-person staff three days before Christmas, the statement said, and its printer will publish the paper again only if they pay for it upfront. “EW employees who thought they were paying into retirement accounts have learned the money never arrived at its destination,” staff members James Bateman, Todd Cooper, Camilla Mortensen, and Rob Weiss wrote. They reported the theft to the local police, and a team of private forensic accountants is examining the paper’s books, according to the statement.

ICYMI: Hearst CT Media finalizes deal to acquire RJ Media Group in Meriden.

The Messenger Plans Layoffs Amid Hunt for Cash
New York Times | Benjamin Mullin

The Messenger, a digital news startup that launched last year with big ambitions, will cut about two dozen employees this week as it faces dwindling cash reserves. The employees are expected to be laid off this week as part of a cost-cutting measure. The company is facing financial headwinds in a tough digital ad market that has put a squeeze on its operations. Richard Beckman, a former executive at Condé Nast who served as The Messenger’s president, announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the company, citing “short-term health issues.” Beckman was a key early hire of Jimmy Finkelstein, a longtime media executive who founded The Messenger.

Sources say the company is seeking to raise around $20 million.

Cheddar News furloughs workers days after being sold to Altice USA
New York Post | Ariel Zilber

Financial news channel Cheddar News reportedly laid off several staffers just days after cable company Altice USA sold the network. It is unclear how many employees were laid off by new owners Archetype, the media company whose holdings include Army Times and Defense News. Last week, Altice USA, the fourth-largest cable provider behind Comcast, Charter, and Cox, announced the sale of Cheddar, which had an estimated 130 workers. Altice USA is the parent company of Optimum, the brand name of what was once James Dolan-owned Cablevision. In 2019, Altice USA bought Cheddar, billed as “CNBC for millennials,” for $200 million.

More bad news: After 180 years, a small daily newspaper in the US Virgin Islands is closing.

New Luxury Lifestyle Publication to Debut in Florida
MediaPost | Ray Schultz

Wellington, Fla., will soon be home to a luxury magazine called Lux Wellington. It will appear in February and will serve the Wellington-Palm Beach area. The product is the latest glossy print edition being offered by Luxury Lifestyle publications. The initial digital edition will cover travel, men’s/women’s fashion, dining, the local home market, VIP profiles, luxury autos, health and beauty, and the equestrian lifestyle. The company claims to reach over 30,000 high-net-worth individuals interested in luxury.

Read next: Publishers are out of touch with state privacy laws, according to a study by Compliant.

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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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