Discover more from Business Side
Weekly Briefing: Friday, October 13th
WaPo job cuts, Threads won’t “amplify” news, and more
Happy Friday! And welcome to Business Side.
This is the first edition of our new Weekly Briefing, where you get context on the biggest moves of the week, see benchmarks from other publishers, and hear what other operators are saying. All with a new design and logo (thank you, Natalie!!).
With that, let’s get to it.
WaPo’s cuts. The company hopes to cut 240 jobs with voluntary buyouts, which were offered to about 700 staff this week (out of about 2,500). According to interim CEO Patty Stonesifer, cuts will be spread evenly across the newsroom and the business side.
The company is on track to lose about $100 million this year.
In part, this is a revenue problem. Since 2021, print revenue is down 10%, and digital ad revenue is down 30%. Subscriptions are also down 15% to 2.5 million.
It also appears to be a cost problem. At a companywide meeting earlier this week, Stonesifer said, “This is a really good business that we overshot on expenses.” Per reporting from Puck, she was also “stunned by the lack of responsible financial management” after taking over four months ago.
WNYC’s pivot. The organization is moving away from podcast-only shows, shifting to a “broadcast to podcast” model.
The audience reach of broadcast radio is still much greater than podcasts. According to WNYC CEO LaFontaine Oliver, “part of what the strategy is about is saying that we are still having material success in reaching people from traditional media broadcasting.”
WNYC sees its reach across platforms as a key differentiator. “Putting a focus on these multiplatform shows is where we see a competitive advantage in a very crowded, competitive, and disruptive podcast environment,” according to WNYC’s vice president of communications, Jennifer Houlihan Roussel.
News on Threads. In response to a post noting that “Israel-Palestine news has brought lots of people on [Threads] in recent days,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri responded, writing that, “We’re not anti-news. News is clearly already on Threads…. We’re not going to get in the way of any either. But, we’re also not going to amplify news on the platform.”
Several months ago, shortly after Thread’s launch, Mosseri explained the app’s position on politics & hard news: “From a platform's perspective, any incremental engagement or revenue [politics & hard news] might drive is not at all worth the scrutiny, negativity (let's be honest), or integrity risks that come along with them.”
Despite the flood of recent news, Threads is sticking to this original position, staying focused on surfacing conversations around lighter topics like sports, music, and fashion.
Meanwhile, LinkedIn is taking the opposite approach. According to LinkedIn’s editor-in-chief Daniel Roth: “News is essential to us. You cannot get ahead in your business or your career without knowing what’s going on in the world…. So you’re just going to see us increasingly find ways to be able to support newsrooms and high-quality news content and journalists, and make sure that they’re being successful on Linkedin.”
Event revenue (Digiday):
Axios expects to increase 60% YOY
Bloomberg is up 48% YoY
At Semafor, half of its revenue comes from events
1440 newsletter (The Rebooting):
3 million subscribers
60% average open rate
$0.75 average monthly revenue per subscriber
$3-4 average CAC
North American publisher referral traffic trends, Q3 vs. Q2 (Chartbeat):
Search rose from 19% to 20%, resilient despite all the AI fears.
Social fell from 17% to 16%, after starting the year at 18% in Q1.
Mobile fell from 71% to 69%, its lowest level in the last year.
US Latino podcast listenership (Edison):
Listenership has increased by 52% since 2020, nearly 4x faster than the rate among the general US population
38% listened in the last month vs. 42% general population
31% listened in the last week (23% to English-language, 13% to Spanish-language)
NPR has seen only a 1% drop in traffic as a result of leaving Twitter six months ago.
Texas Monthly expects to bring in around $1 million in entertainment-related revenue next year and has 50 film & TV projects in the works.
The Boston Globe now has more than 245,000 digital-only subscriptions.
The New York Review of Books Editor Emily Greenhouse on the publication’s mission:
We follow the passions and enthusiasms and sometimes outrages of our writers. That is the project, and that is the job: to reach out to writers whose minds seem acutely alive to the world around us, to ask them to examine, ransack, and record. To find people who understand something that I do not, and then to ask them to explain it, to teach me.
Head of Bloomberg Live Experiences Jessica Webber on doing fewer & larger events:
We were very bullish going into 2023 because we wanted to anchor around a new strategy, which is a strategic decision actually to reduce the number of events that we do … in order to have each event have its own impact and scale.
WSJ editor-in-chief Emma Tucker on reaching new audiences:
We need to make our journalism more accessible without in any way diluting the standards or integrity of the reporting. And I think it’s possible to do both.
1440 co-founder Tim Huelskamp on what the newsletter boom means for his business:
When we started five or six years ago, [newsletters were] just getting going. Now you have Substack and beehiiv and ConvertKit and all these new places where the creator economy can write content and then deliver it to the user. But I think at the end of the day that helps us, believe it or not, because in a world where there’s information overload and more sources coming, we believe the user wants one source that has as much information as possible that they can use as a guide to navigate it all.
The AP announced five new AI-powered products developed in partnership with local newsrooms.
The BBC outlined generative AI principles and has “taken steps to prevent web crawlers like those from Open AI and Common Crawl from accessing BBC websites.”
A new Sunday newspaper, La Tribune Dimanche, launched last weekend in France. The paper’s president Jean-Christophe Tortora explained, “We found there’s a demand for a paper whose tone is calm and not anxiety inducing … and is sincere and independent.”
Venture capital activity in media decreased significantly in Q3, according to Pitchbook data published by Digiday.
The president of Condé Nast Entertainment, Agnes Chu, is leaving the company at the end of the month.
The Information hired Matthew Resnick, former COO of Morning Brew, as its new COO.
Crypto news outlet The Block promoted Tim Copeland to EIC.
Staff at Gannett’s product review site, Reviewed, staged a one-day strike during Amazon Prime’s Big Deals Day on Tuesday.
Google is testing a new version of its Search Generative Experience (SGE), which displays a few lines from an AI-generated answer with the option to expand to see the full result. SGE is also now able to generate images from prompts.
X updated its public interest policy, which defines which posts are considered newsworthy and therefore exempt from takedowns. The policy now no longer requires that accounts be verified or have more than 100k followers to be considered newsworthy.
Separately, X appears to have rolled out a new ad format that can’t be blocked, has no “ad” label, and doesn’t identify the advertiser.
OpenAI is generating $1.3 billion in annualized revenue, up 30% from the summer.
Negotiations between the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, and major Hollywood studios collapsed yesterday, with further discussion suspended.
The creator startup Jellysmack acquired the media company Law & Crime for a reported nine figure sum.
A group of comic book writers and artists announced Ghost Machine, a new creator-owned media company.
Thanks for being a part of Business Side’s public beta. Have a great day!
Was this forwarded to you? Subscribe here.