Media Insider: WSJ Plans Layoffs, New York Times Explores AI in the Newsroom
Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.
Wall Street Journal plans layoffs, restructuring in D.C.
Axios | Sara Fischer
The Wall Street Journal is planning to restructure its Washington bureau this week, sources told Axios. The changes will include a small number of layoffs, as well as some new roles. The reorganization will also move some Washington-based economics coverage to New York. Some of the people whose roles are eliminated will be able to apply for new jobs. The long-planned restructuring will be announced before the Journal’s new Washington coverage chief, Damian Paletta, officially starts next Monday.
Perhaps the Journal should take a page from the New York Times, whose puzzle and games are helping the company thrive.
The New York Times is building a team to explore AI in the newsroom
The Verge | Emilia David
The New York Times will begin building a team to explore the use of generative AI in its newsroom. Zach Seward, who was recently hired by the publication to head AI initiatives, said the team will be “focused on prototyping uses of generative AI and other machine-learning techniques to help with reporting and how the Times is presented to readers.” Seward said the Times plans to hire a machine learning engineer, a software engineer, a designer, and a couple of editors to round out the AI newsroom initiative. In a memo posted after Seward’s hiring, the Times said that while it’s excited to bring AI tools to the company, it is firm in its belief that “Times journalism will always be reported, written and edited by our expert journalists.”
Speaking of artificial intelligence: Bloomberg is now providing AI summaries of companies’ earnings calls on its terminal.
TechCrunch to Shutter Subscription Service TC+ After Layoffs
TheWrap | Eileen AJ Connelly
Silicon Valley news site TechCrunch is ending its subscription product after laying off eight staffers this week. The subscription product TC+ will wind down as the site aims to refocus its coverage around the investors, founders, and startups of Silicon Valley. “We are making strategic changes at TechCrunch to strengthen our core product and set up the business for the long term, including leaning more heavily into original reporting and content as well as sunsetting TechCrunch+ in the coming weeks,” a TechCrunch spokesperson said in a statement. “This shift is driven by our commitment to align team structure with forthcoming business needs and is not about cost-cutting.” About half the affected staff members at TechCrunch were in business operations.
Sports Illustrated draws interest from 2 more bidders – including Jeff Zucker’s Front Office Sports
New York Post | Josh Kosman
The license to publish Sports Illustrated is drawing interest from at least two fresh bidders, including Jeff Zucker-backed news site Front Office Sports. In addition to Front Office Sports, Sports Illustrated’s publishing rights could also get a bid from Minute Media, which in 2019 acquired the Player’s Tribune blog founded by Derek Jeter. The rights to publish SI went up for grabs earlier this month after its current licensee, The Arena Group, failed to make a $3.75 million quarterly fee, prompting SI’s owner Authentic Brands Group to terminate its license. Arena — which made headlines Jan. 19 by telling all of Sports Illustrated’s staffers they would lose their jobs because of the blowup — is still publishing SI under a 60-day contract provision, even as it scrambles to negotiate lower fees, sources said.
More on Sports Illustrated: The union representing SI staff filed a labor grievance against the magazine’s publisher over mass layoffs.
Oregon Newspaper to Resume Printing After Embezzlement Forced Layoffs
New York Times | Livia Albeck-Ripka
A weekly newspaper in Oregon that laid off all of its workers in December after an employee embezzled tens of thousands of dollars will resume its print edition on Feb. 8 after raising enough money through donations. The newspaper, The Eugene Weekly, abruptly stopped printing after it discovered financial problems, including money not being paid into employee retirement accounts and $70,000 in unpaid bills to the newspaper’s printer, leading it to lay off all 10 of its staff members just days before Christmas. Over the past month, however, its editor, Camilla Mortensen, has continued publishing articles online with the help of interns, freelancers, and retired reporters and editors — many of whom were willing to work without pay to keep the paper afloat. As of this week, Mortensen and three other staff members will be brought back onto the payroll in preparation for the Feb. 8 edition, she said, noting that the return to print was made possible by readers and members of the public who raised at least $150,000 after the financial problems were reported.