Layoffs at GateHouse Media New England after buyout deadline passes; Tribune Tower sold
Morning Brief: The private equity owned newspaper chain, the parent of which is New Media Investment Group, cut up to 40 jobs in its latest move to cut costs
The saying ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’ originates from Alphonse Karr, editor of Le Figaro (“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”). Things are not changing, just more bitter, angrier. When voters tell pollsters they are looking for change, what they mean is that they want others to change.
A month after a letter came out offering buyouts to employees, GateHouse Media New England has about 40 fewer employees this week versus last, with many longtime journalists and photographers among those laid off, according to sources.
As reported earlier this month, the owner of 620 community and business publications, including 125 daily newspapers across the country, offered its non-union employees in New England a week of severance pay for every year of employment at the company, which is owned by New Media Investment Group (NYSE: NEWM). The deadline to accept the buyout in the New England group was Aug. 12, while the deadline to accept the buyout elsewhere was Aug. 30.
Los Angeles-based developer CIM Group has agreed to buy Tribune Tower for up to $240 million, marking the end of media ownership for the historic North Michigan Avenue building and the beginning of a new chapter, likely as part of a mixed-use redevelopment…
…Built in 1925, Tribune Tower was designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, who won a contest held by Chicago Tribune co-publishers Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Patterson to create the newspaper’s headquarters. It was named a Chicago landmark in 1989….
…The deal to sell Tribune Tower is the latest news in Tribune Media’s ongoing efforts to sell its entire $1 billion real estate portfolio. This month, the company said the Times Mirror Square building and Olympic printing plant in Los Angeles were under contract with nonrefundable deposits, and the transactions were expected to close in the third quarter. Tribune Media also has sold six smaller properties for about $90 million this year.
“Monetizing the significant assets of Tribune Media’s real estate portfolio is a strategic priority for the company and we are extremely pleased with the outcome of this sales process,” Liguori said in the news release.
(Note: Tribune Media is the broadcast side of the former Tribune Company. The newspaper side was spun off as Tribune Publishing, now called tronc. The broadcast side started life with the former company’s real estate assets, as well as its digital assets. The newspaper side started life loaded down with debt.)
Zuckerberg may not want to admit it, but Facebook is one of the largest and most powerful media companies in the world, and getting larger. He said the company he co-founded isn’t a media company because “we do not produce any content.” Instead, it just builds tools that let users interact with each other, which includes sharing news, he said.
But is creating content the best way to define whether a company is a media company? Not even close. To take just one recent example, The Huffington Post didn’t create much of its own content in the early days, before it hired a reporting staff. Users created blog posts and HuffPo distributed and made money from them via advertising…
…The social network may argue that it doesn’t tell its publishing partners what they should be creating for that money, but the fact that it is pushing video—and that its algorithm clearly favors certain kinds of video content over other kinds—helps determine what gets promoted.
What’s surprising is that more than twice as many respondents said they rely on their editorial team for the production of native ads vs. their own native ad studio. And nearly three times as many magazine execs said they involve their editorial team vs. a separate native ad team.
But magazine execs are worried about the lack of division between their editorial and advertising side. Nearly half of respondents said the biggest threat to native advertising was the lack of separation of the editorial and the commercial side. Furthermore, poor labeling was also a concern; 29% of magazine execs said it was.