The BizBeat – October 6, 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

Making Headlines

  • The scoop that was (and wasn’t): On Saturday, The New York Times broke a sought-after scoop: Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns. The returns came by way of Times’ reporter Susanne Craig, who found the returns in her mailbox  on Friday the 23rd. Although there have since been questions about the editorial decisions to publish the returns, the Times was seemingly the sole proprietor of this exclusive information. Except – they weren’t. CNN’s Dylan Byers reports that New York Daily News editor-in-chief Jim Rich received the same packet of returns (also via snail mail) at the same time as Craig, but was unable to find anyone to verify them before the Times’ story published. Maybe next time, Daily News.
  • A Twitter buyout has become increasingly likely over the past week, as a number of potential suitors have gotten serious in evaluating offer options. While Salesforce Inc., Disney, and Google all emerged at one point as prominent potential bidders, Salesforce is the current front-runner for a deal as the other two suitors have now backed out of contention. Twitter is expected to begin fielding bids as early as the end of this week, but there are no guarantees any bid will be enough to entice Twitter to sell.

Getting Down to Business

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that The New York Times will be moving away from standard banner advertisements on their website in favor of its own cross-device “Flex Frame” native ad display. The flex frame ads will appear at the top of webpages, between paragraphs, and throughout content in other places on the site, following native ad trends set by tech giants like Facebook and Google. Sebastian Tomich, senior vice president of advertising and innovation at the Times says the new system will eventually allow advertisers to purchase spots through automated programs, and the Times’ in-house agency “T Brand Studio” will also help companies create ads.

  • The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) announced that its membership structure will begin to focus more on web traffic instead of print circulation numbers, according to Poynter. Previously, news editors and execuitves paid for membership to ASNE based on their publication’s print circulation. Now, membership will be based on monthly unique visitors, with membership tiers ranging from over 10 million unique visitors to under 500,000 visitors. Announced in an e-mail to ASNE members, the change is what ASNE President Mizell Stewart III is calling a “long overdue” acknowledgment that “digital media is a primary platform for storytelling.”

On the Radar

  • Vice News Tonight, a new nightly news television program from HBO and Vice, premieres on Monday at 7:30 PM ET on HBO. The premiere comes after a two-week delay, caused by what network producers say was the desire to “make sure all of its creative elements work.”  The show will be targeted toward a more millenial audience, and those, the show website says, who are “skeptical of the daily broadcast news format.” Toward this end, the show will not have an anchor, sponsors, or censors, but instead mirror Vice’s documentary-news style.

  • Media conglomerate Gannett’s quest to buy Tronc may soon be coming to a close, Politico reported last weekend. According to Politico’s sources, a deal could have been imminent as early as last Monday morning, but no final agreements have been announced. On Tuesday, Bloomberg noted that the talks have made a small step forward, as Gannett and Tronc have apparently bridged a “valuation gap” that hindered progress for months. Sources close to the deal say the two parties have yet to reach any final conclusions, but movement could be expected sooner rather than later.


  • Assistant managing editor of Time magazine Sam Jones was promoted to the role of executive editor of Time Digital, according to an internal memo. The memo states that Jones will steer “day-to-day online coverage” as well as “oversee the digital desk” as Time aims to integrate it’s namesake magazine’s digital presence with its other titles. Prior to coming to Time, Sam was a national political correspondent for Reuters, an associate editor at Newsweek, and a reporter at The Daily Beast.


  • @BuzzFeedAndrew no more: CNN has poached BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski and three other members of his “K-File” team, Kyle Blaine, Nate McDermott, and Christopher Massie, for the final stretch of the 2016 Presidential election. In what some are calling a “coup” by CNN, the group’s hiring comes after tensions between Buzzfeed Editor Ben Smith and CNN network chief Jeff Zucker. As the announcement and employment changes have all happened within the last week, the New York Times reports that the team’s sudden jump was surprising and will leave BuzzFeed short-handed in the month leading to the election. Kaczynski, however, feels otherwise, stating that being a part of “the biggest name in news” is simply a “great opportunity for me and everybody on our team”. Already, the K-File team is making moves at its new home.

  • Meerkat, a live-streaming app that debuted at South by Southwest in 2015, is dead, Mashable reports. The app, that for long battled with Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live was taken down from the Apple and Android app stores last Friday. In March, Meerkat’s CEO Ben Rubin sent an e-mail to investors, suggesting that development of the app would start to pivot. While at the time, the end result of the pivot was unknown, it’s clear now that the “pivot” was toward shutting down the app altogether. Rubin will now be focusing on a new project called Houseparty, which is an app for group video calling.

Taking Stock

The following stocks are for companies that were in media news, influencing media news, or affected by media news in the past week.

  • Walt Disney, Co. (DIS): $92.45
  • Twitter, Inc. (TWTR): $24.87
  • CBS Corp. (CBS): $56.41
  • Viacom (VIA): $42.71 (up $0.41)
  • The New York Times Company (NYT):  $12.02
  • Gannett Co. (GCI): $11.87
  • Tribune Media Company (TRCO): $36.13

In Other News

  • Politico announced that it will call upon Slate’s podcast network, Panoply, for distribution and streaming of its podcasts Off Message and Nerdcast. Grace Mausser, MediaFile’s podcast and public media correspondent, has the full story.
  • New reports have surfaced that Yahoo scanned all users’ incoming e-mails by request of U.S. intelligence officials beginning in April. The revelation, which many are calling an invasion of privacy, comes after news broke two weeks ago that a “state-sponsored” hack of Yahoo in late 2014 stole over 500 million users’ account information and passwords. As Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan – and many others – have said, it may be time to finally delete that Yahoo account.

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