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There are conflicting reports about whether the LA Times is considering a sale.
Citing anonymous sources, The Intersect reported that LA Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong is discussing a deal with PMC, whose brands include entertainment-focused publications like Variety, Rolling Stone, and The Hollywood Reporter. Soon-Shiong quickly denied the report, calling it “fake news.” This follows recent layoffs at the LA Times, as well as Soon-Shiong’s recent sale of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Setting aside whether sales talks are actually happening, it’s interesting to consider whether the LA Times and PMC are a good match. This train of thought actually points to a potential playbook for other metro papers.
Since Soon-Shiong bought the paper in 2018, he has invested in technology and expanded the newsroom, but subscriptions have lagged behind expectations. Today the paper has around 550,000 digital subscribers, which is well below Soon-Shiong’s initial goals – and the paper is still unprofitable.
From the perspective of PMC, joining forces with the LA Times would be a risky bet. To date, PMC has built a focused portfolio of entertainment brands around a defined advertising market. The Times covers entertainment, of course, but its remit includes many other coverage areas. Buying the Times would risk diluting PMC's strategy and would saddle the company with an unprofitable asset that lacks a clear path to profitability.
But from the perspective of the LA Times, you can see the appeal. Soon-Shiong has said he hopes the paper can become a national and global brand, but the publication hasn't yet found a clear point of differentiation. Leveraging PMC’s resources and reporting, the LA Times could credibly make a run at becoming a must-read source on entertainment. Success in Hollywood, a local industry with broad appeal, could be a wedge to grow readership around the world.
If you squint, it looks like the Wall Street Journal playbook. In The Journal’s case, their deep coverage of the NYC-based finance industry helped the paper build a unique brand and global audience. Today, while the paper covers a broad set of topics, it’s still known for this focus and, arguably, has succeeded in large part because of it.
And here’s the latest news in digital media:
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The NYT Guild is planning a lunchtime walk out this week over the shut down of its sports desk.
On platforms and AI:
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