The BizBeat – December 1, 2016

Each Thursday, MediaFile’s Business section publishes an overview of the past week’s news in media organizations and industry. Have a tip, see something we missed, or want to put something on our radar? E-mail Shiplett@Mediafiledc.com.

Making Headlines

  • On Monday, Associated Press (AP) Vice President of Standards John Daniszewski provided interesting guidance on how media outlets following AP Style should refer to “alt-right”, or white nationalist, groups that have emerged in the wake of the 2016 election. The guidelines state that references to the groups as “alt-right” should be denoted with quotes or given the qualifier “self-described,” and they should always be followed by a sentence defining the term for readers. Daniszewski says Journalists should not be afraid to explain that the term is synonymous with white nationalism, and to refer to “alt-right” extremists as a “white nationalist group.”

  • It has recently been revealed that the plane that crashed in Colombia carrying members of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team to a championship match was also carrying 21 journalists covering the team’s unlikely rise to its league finals. Of the plane’s 77 passengers, only six survived, and among the survivors was only one journalist, Rafael Valmorbida of Radio Oeste Capital, who hails from the soccer team’s home city of Chapeco. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

Getting Down to Business

  • The New York Post reported on Monday that Time Inc., which owns Time, People, Sports Illustrated, and other major magazines, has rejected a bid from Edgar Bronfman Jr. to purchase the organization for $18 per share. The proposed bid would have netted a 30 percent premium over its closing share value last week at $13.80. Bronfman previously owned Warner Music Group and his possible acquisition of the company caused many to speculate that the stagnating company would turn to a more digitally-based system. Since the rejection of the deal, Time Inc.’s share prices have since risen to $16.30 apiece, due in part to the report. Despite the Time Inc. board’s refusal, talks are still ongoing.
  • The New York Times has seen more than 132,000 new subscriptions to its publication in the aftermath of the presidential election, according to CNBC. However, Times CEO Mark Thompson has cautioned analysts that these subscribers’ allegiance to news subscriptions may change once the post-election coverage draws to a close. While the Times’ new subscriptions are notable, they are part of a larger upwards trend in news subscribership. Other major print organizations, such as The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal all also saw spikes in subscriptions in the days immediately following the election.

  • After heavy speculation that NBC’s Today Show co-host Matt Lauer would retire after the 2016 election, he isn’t going anywhere – at least, not for the next two years. Page Six, a vertical of The New York Post, announced that Lauer re-upped with NBC’s flagship morning program for $20 million a year in a deal that will take him “well into 2018.” The contract was reportedly finalized several months ago, signaling that Lauer will be around for the show for several years to come.

On the Radar

  • CNN announced that it has purchased the social media app Beme. Created by YouTube star Casey Neistat, the sale reportedly cost CNN $25 million, but the company hopes that Neistat’s large social media following will translate over to its own video viewership. However, Neistat himself admitted that, by the end of 2015, Beme “had a harsh realization that we were not such a shining star”, and other experts have questioned the purchase. Consequently, the app technology and production team – not the app itself – is what CNN will be using to enlarge its mobile video outreach.

  • Atlantic Media’s subsidiary Quartz has launched its own Bot Studio this week after receiving a $240,000 grant from the Knight Foundation. The studio reportedly aims to launch three bot initiatives within its first year, including for messaging and voiceover apps like Slack. Quartz also says it will continue investing in its Bot Studio after its first year of operation, though it has not yet decided what specific platforms it will focus on at first.
  • Open government non-profit organization MuckRock announced that it has partnered with the FOIA Machine to make records and files more accessible than ever to journalists and the public. Although MuckRock already guides users through the FOIA process for a small fee, it intends on keeping the FOIA Machine free. In addition to the substantive partnership, the FOIA Machine, which received Knight Foundation money in 2013, will also see its board members become a part of MuckRock’s advisory board.

Arrivals

    • BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins will join The Atlantic’s politics and policy coverage team, per Politico. Coppins will start writing for The Atlantic magazine and its web political content in early 2017. While the magazine has tripled its politics and policy team in the last year, Coppins’ departure is the latest blow for BuzzFeed’s political unit, which saw its entire politics research team head to CNN in October.

  • As part of an effort to reach a worldwide audience of 500 million people by its 100th anniversary in 2022, the BBC has launched four new Indian language services. In what is BBC’s most expansive global outreach since the 1940s, the news conglomerate’s reach could expand by 250 million people following the launch of its Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, and Telugu language formats. In the future, the BBC also plans to launch new platforms in Korean, Nigerian, and Ethiopian languages.

Departures

  • BuzzFeed’s Chief Marketing and Creative Officer, Frank Cooper, is leaving the company after a year and a half. While at BuzzFeed, Cooper’s work largely focused on improving native journalism presence across BuzzFeed’s many branches. While Cooper was on the business end of the company, his departure is part of an alarming trend for BuzzFeed, who has seen a number of exits from major journalists and teams in the past few months.
  • Politico National Editor Michael Hirsh has resigned from the company following his publication of “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer’s address in a public Facebook post. Initially, the intention of Hirsh’s post was unclear, but after a Facebook user asked Hirsh about his motives, he suggested violence in response. The post came on the heels of Spencer’s organization, the National Policy Institute, organizing a conference at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C, during which The Atlantic captured a now-viral video of several attendees responding to Spencer with Nazi salutes. The post has since been deleted.

In Other News

  • The death of divisive Cuban figure Fidel Castro has produced a mixed bag of responses from around the world. Poynter’s round up of front pages from across the globe on the day after his death provides an interesting exploration of the divides in reactions to this historical event.
  • ProPublica recently published a thorough report on claims of voting fraud during the last Presidential election. The article explains that evidence would exist if people had voted illegally, and that if any sort of large scale voter fraud had occurred, it would have been readily apparent on Election Day. Even though an article published on Infowars by Alex Jones, a “conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist,” alleged that as many as three million undocumented immigrants voted on Election Day, he cited only a tweet from voter fraud app VoteStand founder Gregg Phillips as his source. And while any sign of voting inconsistency is worth investigating, ProPublica cautions that unfounded speculation has effects that extend beyond hacking and illegal voting allegations, including voter disenfranchisement.

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