July 5, 2017 Last Updated 7:31 am

WSJ cuts print edition in Europe, Tronc goes weekly with Chicago Spanish language paper

Morning Brief: The NY Post’s Keith Kelly says big time supporter of both Donald Trump and Steve Bannon has taken a small stake in struggling Time Inc.

Two weeks is not exactly a long time to be off exploring the ruins of the Roman empire. Still, with the way the news cycle has been for the past year, the last thing I expected was that I would return to thing pretty much as they were. That’s incredibly disappointing because the state of things is not good.

The Financial Times (no link due to paywall) reported last week that The Wall Street Journal will be “scaling” back its print edition in Europe, moving to digital-only. News Corp is actually doing better than many of its counterparts, that is due to its divisions other than print newspapers — books, digital real estate, in-store marketing.

Still, it is hard to sell an international edition unless one can generate enough ad revenue or paid subscriptions when those traveling abroad are reading the news on their mobile devices rather than via print.

The “giornali” store at the train station in Florence was typical of what I saw in Italy. It was crowded with both tourists and locals, but everyone was buying water and trinkets, not newspapers. I old man in front of me was the exception, he was buying up most of the Italian newspapers to read on the train. I joked to him “you’re the most informed man in Italy” and he nodded sadly. I bought the Telegraph and couldn’t get past the first few pages as it seem to me to be a tabloid hiding in broadsheet format.

The NYT ran a story on the move, but so did Breitbart. That’s scary, is this wackadoodle website morphing into a media news site? The newest comment on their story is worth reproducing here:

“Leftists clearly are too stupid to run businesses without big gov assistance in all matters. If leftists were as intelligent and enlightened as they claim to be then the light of enlightenment should go off in their microbe sized brains that everyone with a real brain views them as POS’s and they should just retool and make toilet paper with their tripe filled articles printed on it.”

Either the reader (or troll, but there what is the difference) doesn’t know the WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, or even the old Australian is too liberal for the tastes of the new voting public.

News Corp is not the only print publisher cutting back, of course.

Robert Feder reported last week that tronc would be cutting back Hoy, its Chicago Spanish language tab to weekly. The publisher also has editions in Los Angeles and other cities, and the move, while disappointing to some, is not unexpected as its LA edition is also printed weekly.

Still, it goes almost without saying that tronc is the wrong company to be publishing Hoy.

In this morning’s NY Post, Keith Kelly tells us that Robert Mercer, the rich supporter of Donald Trump’s presidency, the backer of Breitbart News, has taken a small percentage ownership of Time Inc.

Expect much more of this kind of thing as it is fairly common on Europe for the old guard news organizations to be owned by political interests. But that doesn’t mean that they know how to run them.

In 2011, real estate businessman Doug Manchester, and another Trump supporter, bought the San Diego Union-Tribune in hopes it would prove of help in his local business ventures. It didn’t, and he sold it off to Tribune Publishing only a few years later. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson recently acquired the Las Vegas Review-Journal, though I think his real goal was simply to shut it up.

That’s probably the goal here, too — just to stop those TIME Magazine front covers that so annoy the president, though since the investment, as Kelly reports, too place this spring, it hasn’t worked so far.

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Another big-time Trump donor eyes buying up Time

Robert Mercer’s Renaissance Technologies bought nearly 2.5 million shares of Time Inc. in the first quarter, according to a recent regulatory filing — a 2.51 percent stake valued on March 31 at $48.1 million…

…The second Trump booster possibly eyeing Time Inc. is David Pecker, who runs American Media, parent of National Enquirer.

New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin thinks Pecker is angling to buy Time Inc. — although the longtime publisher would seem to have much less financial firepower to back up such a purchase than Mercer.

Of course, Renaissance’s new stake in Time Inc. — also publisher of People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and a large stable of other titles — could be a passive, long-term investment.

Obviously, there was much more that occurred during the 13 days in which TNM went dark. But that is enough of a recap for now. The break was very much needed, though to be honest, I could have used a few more weeks in Italy to get recharged. I’m not sure if I really am ready to face the future that awaits publishers, are you?

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