Gannett’s last stand: Tribune shareholders meeting unlikely to support takeover effort
Morning Brief: An update to the work-saving Apple News plug-in for WordPress adds more customization options, but monetization remains the issue for the tech-owned news apps
The financial media will keeping one eye open to see if anything interesting comes of today’s Tribune Publishing shareholder meeting, to be held in law offices in Los Angeles early this morning Pacific time (noon on the east coast). The betting money is on “non event” – with Gannett failing to get the necessary support for its effort to prevent the board from getting approved.
It would be an upset should Gannett win this one, but stranger things have happened at Tribune – like it winning Times Mirror in the first place, and then there was the ownership of real estate magnate Sam Zell and the bankruptcy that followed. Then there was the spin-off from the Tribune Company, one that was supposed to result in a vibrant broadcast company and a newspaper company that really no one wanted. But Michael Ferro did, and now he sits on top of a newspaper chain that contains the dominant newspapers in Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore – not that this means much these days.
East coast media observers, it should be said, don’t really understand Midwesterners, and what motivates them. That is why they seem to miss the motivation behind rejecting Gannett’s seemingly attractive offer. Ask Groupon about how easy it is to say “no” to an offer you can’t refuse. That doesn’t mean it always makes sense, of course.
For Chicago newspaper owners, just having the keys to the office matters. Chicago, and the state apparatus in Springfield, is an insider’s game – and owning the largest newspaper the region counts for a lot when the real prize is political power. How else to explain the endless parade of power brokers who move from city hall to the state capitol to the penitentiary with such ease and aplomb.
As Lukas Alpert of The Wall Street Journal put it this morning “insiders say that Mr. Ferro seems keenly interested in the status of being a publisher and that has likely complicated efforts to convince him to sell.”
Today’s shareholder meeting might generate news (though it is closed to the press), but I would guess that come August the real story will be Q2 earnings, as the odds that both publishers report revenue growth are about as good as Gannett winning its shareholders vote today. On second though, Gannett’s chances are probably better than that today.
An update to the Apple News plug-in was released earlier this week. I know that a number of websites loosely associated with TNM employee it.
This update brings the plug-in up to version 1.1.4 and features updates to the default settings for the Apple News template, additional customization options for pull quotes, and some other changes that should continue to make the plug-in invaluable for those who really don’t want to waste much time re-inputting content into the Apple system.
After experimenting with Apple News by manually adding content I soon found it not worth the bother, Apple’s closed ecosystem, combined with their decision to kill off iAd, effectively means the Apple News is not going to drive any revenue for the vast majority of publishers who could participate.
Readership for TNM is minimal, but I have seen spikes with TNM’s new, experimental site – still in beta, and still not really ready to roll. Like Google News, getting significant readership for a story inside Apple News is a crapshoot, but there have been some days were the numbers were fairly impressive.