The BizBeat – September 15, 2016

Each Thursday, MediaFile’s Business section publishes The BizBeat, 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@Mediafile.com.

Making Headlines

  • Univision executives voted to delete six Gawker Media pieces, each of which involved in ongoing litigation, on Friday night.  Although Gawker Media’s executive editor, John Cook, voted to keep all of the pieces, interim CEO Felipe Holguin and Fusion general counsel Jay Grant voted to remove them. According to an internal memo, the affected posts will be removed over the weekend. Read the full list of articles and Cook’s entire memo here.
  • This week, Native American-led protests against the Dakota access pipeline received increased media coverage after reports of violence against and arrests of the protestors. On Saturday, Democracy Now announced that an arrest warrant was issued for one of its hosts and executive producers, Amy Goodman on the charges of criminal trespassing. “This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” Amy Goodman said in a statement.

Getting Down to Business

  • Only months after it acquired a number of New Jersey newspapers and assets from North Jersey Media Group (NJMG), publishing giant Gannett is cleaning house. More than 200 current employees in the sales and news departments will be handed pink slips by mid-November, Poynter reports. NJMG claims the move is part of “ambitious restructuring” aimed to make the newsroom “more responsive” to digital demands.
  • Vice announced Wednesday that it is filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the IRS for audits of Donald Trump’s tax returns from 2002 onwards. The suit also called on the FBI to release documents related to two separate inflammatory comments Trump made on the campaign trail. Ryan Shapiro, a research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society who filed the suit jointly with Vice, argues that “if the Republican nominee for President of the United States is currently under federal investigation, this is absolutely something the voters should know.” The filing can be viewed in its entirety below.

On the Radar

  • Virginia Citizens Defense League, a grassroots “pro-gun” group, has sued Katie Couric, along with Stephanie Soechtig and entertainment network Epix, claiming intended malice with Couric’s recent documentary “Under the Gun.” The scene in question, which even Couric herself has recognized as misleading, shows members of the Defense Leage seemingly stumped by one of Couric’s questions about gun ownership. The group, which is alleging defamation, seeks $12 million in “damages.”
  • The launch of “Vice News Tonight,” a new nightly newscast produced by HBO and Vice Media, has been delayed two weeks, reports the Associated Press. We originally reported on the new show in the first edition of BizBeat. The delay is said to be the result of network producers wanting to “make sure all of its creative elements work,” and Vice Executive Josh Tyrangiel reports the show aims to “really make graphics beautiful.” The show will premiere on October 10th and air weeknights at 7:30 PM EDT on HBO.
    According to the network on Tuesday this week, the premiere of HBO and Vice's upcoming news show "Vice News Tonight" has been pushed back two weeks. The half-hour nightly news program, which was originally scheduled to premiere on September 26, will now kick off on HBO Monday, October 10, at 7:30 p.m. ET instead. According to HBO, "Vice News Tonight" will abandon the traditional anchor-based format, but will include traditional field pieces and newsmaker interviews.
  • In more Gannett news, the growing media company recently led an investment round in social news pioneer Digg. In the past year, Gannett has been rapidly bulking up with acquisitions of news companies, especially newspapers, but has recently shown interest in the digital realm. The investments come as Gannett continues to pursue an acquisition of digital publishing company Tronc, Inc., the rebranded version of Chicago-based Tribune Publishing. According to sources familiar with the acquisition, the deal is reported to be in “the seven figure range.”

Arrivals

  • Quite literally, Spotify rocks the vote: This week, streaming service Spotify debuted a millenial-targeted video series on popular issues relevant to the upcoming election. The series, “Clarify,” featured EDM producer and DJ Diplo in its first episode, which is focused on student debt. The videos will be hosted by former Daily Show producer Baratunde Thurston and co-produced by Headcount.org. The series will premiere new episodes weekly, featuring one-on-one conversations on issues with well-known musical artists mixed with “interactive storytelling devices to inspire civic engagement.”

  • Online News Association (ONA) has named former ONA Deputy Director Irving Washington, CAE, as the organization’s next Executive Director effective January 1, 2017. Washington is a media diversity advocate, and has managed a wide variety of programming and initiatives for journalists and students nationwide. Prior to the ONA, Washington worked at the Radio-Television Digital News Foundation as Diversity Education Coordinator and is a 2016 Fellow of the Punch Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program. Washington will succeed Jane McDonnell, who currently serves as ONA executive Director.

Departures

  • After three years, former Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp stepped down, in a move that many have called “surprising.” Ripp, 64, has undergone a number of hospital procedures in recent years, and claims that his health issues were a factor the shakeup. Ripp will be replaced by Rich Battista, who joined the company last year as an executive vice president and was promoted this year to oversee Time’s magazine brands.

Taking Stock

Prices as of closing on Wednesday, September 14. Changes reflect difference from last week’s report. 

  • Time Warner Inc. (TWX): $76.22 (down $2.50)
  • Twenty First Century Fox Inc. (FOX): $23.70 (down $0.68)
  • CBS Corp. (CBS): $52.14 (down $0.48)
  • News Corp. (NWS): $14.43 (up $0.34)
  • The New York Times Company (NYT):  $12.25 (down $0.89)
  • Viacom (VIA): $41.89 (down $3.45)
  • Gannett Co. (GCI): $11.60 (down $0.48)
  • Tribune Media Company (TRCO): $37.31 (down $1.17)

In Other News

  • Dust off your Air Force Ones and start spinning some Nelly. This week, it was calculated that the rapper needs at least 287,176,547 streams on Spotify to pay off his IRS debt. We’ve made it even easier to do your part down below. Hey, must be the money!

  • The premiere of popular celebrity show Dancing With the Stars’ new season did not exactly go as planned. After Olympic swimmer and false robbery report-filer Ryan Lochte’s first performance as a contestant on the show, two protestors rushed the stage. ABC News has an exclusive look below.

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