Media Insider: Red Ventures Explores CNET Sale, Condé Nast Folds Pitchfork Into GQ

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

Red Ventures explores sale of CNET
Axios | Sara Fischer

Digital media and marketing juggernaut Red Ventures has approached strategic buyers about offloading tech news and reviews site CNET. Red Ventures acquired CNET, along with a few smaller websites, from ViacomCBS, now Paramount Global, in 2020 for $500 million. It’s hoping to get at least half of that for CNET alone. Red Ventures has been quietly approaching strategic buyers, mostly other large media holding firms, for several months to gauge their interest in CNET, but talks began to ramp up before the holidays. The process, for now, is still informal, as the company looks to boost earnings before a possible sale.

Also on Axios: Sheryl Sandberg is leaving Meta’s board of directors.

New Baltimore Sun owner insults staff in meeting, says paper should mimic Fox45
Baltimore Banner | Cody Boteler, Lee O. Sanderlin, Giacomo Bologna

In a tense, three-hour meeting with staff, new Baltimore Sun owner David Smith told employees he has only read the paper four times in the past few months, insulted the quality of their journalism, and encouraged them to emulate a TV station owned by his broadcasting company. Smith’s acquisition of the paper from the investment firm Alden Global Capital was announced publicly Monday evening. While the terms of The Sun sale are private, Smith told staff he paid “nine figures” for the paper, along with several community publications, including the Capital Gazette in Annapolis. Smith, who is the executive chairman of Sinclair Inc., which operates more than 200 television stations nationwide, told New York Magazine in 2018 that he considered print media “so left-wing as to be meaningless dribble.” Asked during the meeting whether he stood by those comments now that he owns one of the most storied titles in American journalism, Smith said yes. Asked if he felt that way about the contents of his newspaper, Smith said, “In many ways, yes,” according to people at the meeting.

Read next: Baltimore Sun staffers react to their first meeting with Smith.

Pitchfork Is Being Folded Into GQ, as Condé Nast Seeks ‘Best Path Forward’ for Music Publication
Variety | Todd Spangler

Condé Nast is merging Pitchfork, the digital music publication it bought in 2015, with men’s magazine GQ — a move that will result in layoffs at Pitchfork, including the exit of editor-in-chief Puja Patel. Anna Wintour, Condé Nast’s chief content officer and global editorial director of Vogue, announced the changes in a memo to company staff. Pitchfork, which has cultivated a brand geared around music criticism doling out spare praise, was founded in 1996 by indie-music fan Ryan Schreiber. A rep for Condé Nast did not have information on how many Pitchfork staffers are being let go. Staff members will “hear more about their reporting structure in meetings this week,” according to Wintour’s memo.

ICYMI: The news-sharing platform Artifact is shutting down after less than a year.

Page Six’s Video Studio Launch Separates It From the NY Post
Adweek | Mark Stenberg

Page Six, the celebrity and gossip arm of the New York Post, has spent one year building a new video studio, Page Six Studio, to help the entertainment title dramatically increase the volume of its video content. The project is the latest in a series of efforts undertaken by the Post to position Page Six as a standalone brand to diversify its advertising business, expand its audience, and strengthen its non-news products. “This was not fully motivated by the fact that news has become a pariah for some advertisers,” said Chief Operating Officer Brad Elders. “It was that, coupled with the fact that we had this huge opportunity in front of us.” Page Six could reach a larger, different demographic, providing the Post — a regional news publisher with reporting that skews conservative — a degree of insulation against the cyclicality of news media, said Andrew Becks, chief strategy officer at media agency 301 Digital Media.

In more video news, Bloomberg TV is making changes to its lineup and content.

Thomson Reuters buys World Business Media
Reuters | Kenneth Li

Thomson Reuters has acquired World Business Media Limited, a subscription-based provider of news and analysis on the insurance and reinsurance market. The London-based company of about 25 employees will join the Reuters News division of Thomson Reuters. Its products include The Insurer, a digital news operation for editorial and data, Insurer TV, and an events business, reaching 45,000 professionals. World Business Media is the latest in a string of acquisitions undertaken by Thomson Reuters as part of its plan to expand offerings for its professional clients. In August, the company closed its $650 million cash acquisition of Casetext, a California-based AI company that helps legal professionals conduct research and analysis, and prepare documents using generative AI.

Also announcing an acquisition: ProMedia Group, which acquired WorldCargo News and Bulk Materials International.

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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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