Week of media mergers, turnover, other surprises comes to a close
Meredith and National Geographic changes ownership, a publisher is fired in LA and one from Baltimore named as a replacement – it was a short but wild week in media
It has been a week of turmoil in the offices of news organizations, both print and digital. Who would have thought? Wasn’t this week supposed to be all about iPhones? Instead, after the Labor Holiday, a bunch of unexpected announcements were made.
The week started with the rumor, quickly confirmed, that Tribune Publishing would be firing its publisher at the Los Angeles Times, x. A replacement, Tim Ryan, currently the publisher at The Baltimore Sun was named that same day.
Beutner had previously been part of an effort to buy the paper and was seen as far more interested in a career in politics than toeing the Tribune line. Beutner, the co-founder of Evercore Partners, was an odd choice to begin with, as he had no background in newspapers. But some would say that was an advantage as newspaper companies are very insular and usually hate to hire from outside the industry – better that everyone go down together, I suppose.
The week continued with several Beutner hires deciding that now would be a good time to leave, they are probably right.
By the time one could digest the news from Los Angeles came news from Des Moines that <strong>Meredith was being bought by Media General. The publisher of iconic magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens was actually targeted because of their local TV station holdings. The new company that will result will be called Meredith Media General and Meredith’s Stephen M. Lacy will lead the company CEO and President.
Speculation immediately began concerning the fate of the magazines, would they be spun-off in the same way as Time Inc. was separated from Time Warner, or the Gannett and Tribune and News Corp newspapers were separated from their less-than-excited-about-print media company owners? Probably not right away, but if the company runs into trouble…
Yikes, then we hear that Rupert Murdoch will be the majority owner of National Geographic. What’s next, will Larry Flynt buy Consumer Reports?
Murdoch’s deal is for his broadcast and film company, 21st Century Fox to own 73 percent of the National Geographic media brands – that is the magazine and the branded TV channels – while the National Geographic Society becomes the minority owner. What will be created is a new company, National Geographic Partners, to manage the media properties and be a for-profit company, while the National Geographic Society remains non-profit concentrating on its mission of funding science, education and the like, but now with an endowment approaching $1 billion.
Lots of observers found it ironic that the climate change denying Murdoch would invest in National Geographic, but what better way to get an illustration of dinosaurs and humans frolicking in the Garden of Eden on the front cover of the magazine?
The week featured a few hirings – such as the just announced bring of Aaron Task to Digital Editor of Time Inc.’s Fortune – and a bit of turnover, as well – such as the news that Kathy Savitt is leaving Yahoo for STX Entertainment.
There are also transitions such as Dylan Byers, who is leaving Politico after four years and will soon be joining CNN.
Well, Apple did hold its iPhone event, and though they seemed pretty excited about it, many who watched it wondered if they actually saw anything new. Bigger iPad? Yeah, Microsoft has already done that. New Apple TV with voice commands? Yeah, doesn’t Amazon and Roku already offer that? New iPhones that shoot 4K? Yeah, so does many others? Hmmm, maybe Apple is grateful there was a lot of other news this week.