Links - Wed, Nov 27, 2019

Today's links and notes page is long because of my weather updates. I decided to move the links section to this post.


Sources: theSkimm is profitable and projects $30M in revenue this year as it looks for an investor or buyer amid slowing subscriber growth

If profitable, why search for a buyer or an investor. More investors will mean that the investors probably want a buyer eventually. This sounds like the beginning of the end of theSkimm, although not right away, especially since it's profitable.

Jay Yarow / @jyarow: The Skimm has a 100 people. Seems like a lot. If they hadn't gone the VC route, couldn't the two founders just be printing cash for themselves?

Ashkan Karbasfrooshan / @ashkan: VC/PE money is fuel for UNprofitable revenue growth; scalable but not really sustainable. That said $30M in revenues = Impressive. $28M in funding to get there? Less so. But at least Skimm is profitable. If ask price is reasonable, buyers exist.

The Skimm is profitable, but “its daily newsletter subscriber growth, at around 7 million, has slowed — it's roughly even from a year ago.” ...

Rafat Ali / @rafat: Lots of schadenfreude to ensue after reading this story, Skimm used to be a fave media punching bag though has quieted down a bit. $30mn revenue is impressive, until you realize it's raised almost as much to get to that number, and exit won't be near their valuation hopes.

Dayton Daily News and two other Ohio daily newspapers to be cut to three days a week, as part of FCC approval for Apollo to acquire Cox TV/radio stations

Joshua Benton / @jbenton: This may be the single dumbest act of media regulation ever. “It's bad for the community if the same company owns the local daily newspaper and a local TV station!” “ what if we kill the ‘daily’ part of the newspaper?” “ALL GOOD PLEASE PROCEED”

Matt Sauer / @mattsauer: This is bullshit and what does “daily publication” even mean when you have digital?

I had the same thought.

A daily "newspaper" publishes new content every day on the web, but that same newspaper will cut its print publication to three days per week. Does that make it a three-day-a-week newspaper? No. It's print product will be published three days per week, but it still publishes content daily.

If that same newspaper decided to publish new stories to the web and to its native apps only three days per week, then it could be called a three-day-a-week newspaper.

The problem is mixing digital with analog, the current with archaic. Should print newspapers even exist today? If so, why should they print seven days per week?

The daily print newspaper product seems more rooted in romantic tradition than in utility.

From the story:

The 121-year old Dayton Daily News and two other Ohio newspapers will shrink to three days a week from daily publication to appease regulators who on Monday approved a $3.1 billion acquisition of Cox TV stations and newspapers by private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

This is a bizarre reason to reduce the print product. I can understand cutting the print product due to lack of interest, but this is government and business crap.

The Leon Black-led Apollo proposed cutting back the print editions of the Pulitzer Prize winning Dayton Daily, among others, to get around Federal Communications Commission rules banning the same owner from having a TV station and daily newspaper in the same market.

Block Communications owns the Toledo Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Block family has been involved with the Blade for decades. Being a family-owned business, the Blade can hang on in some areas longer than local newspapers that are owned by huge companies.

Block Communications also manages Toledo area businesses that serve internet access to homes and businesses, and Block Comm provides cable TV access to the area. It's the dominant cable TV provider. These businesses are profitable while the newspapers lose millions each year. The profitable businesses subsidize the newspapers.

Block Communications also owns one more more local TV stations, but none exist in the Toledo market. I think that one of their TV stations exists in Lima, Ohio.

The so-called duopoly rules were all but dead in recent years until a federal appeals court in Philadelphia reimposed them in September — throwing an unexpected wrench into Apollo’s acquisition plans of Cox Media Group.

To sidestep the rules, Apollo in late October proposed cutting the frequency of the three Ohio papers, arguing that since they would no longer be producing a print paper seven days a week and therefore not draw FCC scrutiny.

Uhh, but will those newspapers publish daily to the web? What's the difference, regarding frequency of publication? It sounds like the rules have not been updated to account for the web. It's the government, and it does not mix well with technology.

The duopoly regs did not have an impact on their original owner, Cox, because the company had started the Dayton-based TV station WHIO Channel 7 in 1949 and the duopoly rules to restrict media concentration went into effect in 1975.

The other two papers facing the cuts in print frequency are the Journal-News in Hamilton, Ohio and the Springfield News-Sun in Springfield, Ohio.

None of this makes logical sense.

“Cox must modify the publication schedule of the three daily newspapers in Ohio in accordance with the representations made in the October 2019 Amendment within 30 days of consummation,” the FCC ruled in approving the merger Monday.

I infer that means that the Dayton Daily News can publish to its website only three days per week. If that's not true, then the FCC's rules are asinine.

A subscriber strike for Alden Global Capital newspapers may be in order, to nudge Alden to sell its papers to owners who covet both good journalism and profits

Dan Kennedy / Local News Isn't Dying — It's Being Murdered By Greed
David Uberti / @daviduberti: Shitty ownership is a far better reason to cancel a newspaper subscription than shitty columns
Tony Biasotti / @tonybiasotti: I'm not saying anyone should cancel but if I worked for one it would be getting harder to tell people why they should subscribe
Claudia Peschiutta / @reporterclaudia: Must admit I don't want to give my money to any Alden-owned papers. If the reporters started a GoFundMe campaign and I could directly support their work, I'd donate.
Matt Pearce / @mattdpearce: I'd add on a crankier note that this column very quietly relies upon years of research and disclosures by newsroom guilds whose opinions @jackshafer did not appear to seek out before recommending readers cancel their jobs.
Matt Pearce / @mattdpearce: proposal: cancel @jackshafer
Jeff Weiner / @jeffweineros: That this premise arrives in this place — that readers should gamble en masse on the sketchy proposition that tanking their local paper's revenue will lead to its sale, rather than its shuttering — is baffling.
Matt Pearce / @mattdpearce: My one-tweet rebuttal is that if you're a reader hoping to make an impact, you should listen to your local newsroom union about what they think you can do with your hard-earned dollars, because individual choice ain't gonna fix what's wrong with Alden Global Capital.
Ross Maghielse / @maghielse: 2/ Personally, I think people should pay for news based on whether or not they find it valuable enough to do so, not because of some obligation to save it. But if people are subscribing to Alden papers out of some sense of civic contribution, they're probably not helping anything
Ross Maghielse / @maghielse: 1/ Seeing several journos go after @jackshafer for this, but there's a real debate to be had here. Specifically with the focus on Alden Global. Subscriber $$ at Alden papers may in fact be incentivizing Alden to ruin more journalism, because doing so pays.
Ross Maghielse / @maghielse: 3/ The only reason Alden is still in the newspaper business is because they have been consistently financially rewarded for gutting it. When that stops, they stop. I get the thought of that sucks, but it's worth considering.
Susan Gonzalez / @thenewsan: I am very aware my money goes to someone who has twice tried to lay me off and effectively crushed me and my bf's lives over and over again. But not subscribing isn't an option.
Sam Hoisington / @samhoisington: This column seems to encourage people to give up on local news. Please don't. Here are four better ideas: - Share your concerns - Pay for news - Examine alternative news sources (startups? Nonprofits?) - Start something new
James Gibney / @jamesgibney: “if you really care about local news, you might want to think twice about continuing your subscription to one of the 50-plus dailies operated by Alden Global Capital under the Digital First Media nameplate,” says @jackshafer via @politico
Don Seiffert / @bosbizdon: “It's not a popular thing to say, but journalism may be approaching the point where dedicated news consumers might take a hard look at their local newspaper and — in the interest of better journalism — cancel their subscriptions.”
Sarphan Uzunoğlu / @sarphanuzunoglu: A very controversial article that questions people's subscriptions to local newspapers. As a citizen of a country that local press is almost ineffective; I don't agree with him the author but he has some interesting arguments.
Josh Good / @josh_good_: “Newspaper circulation has fallen almost in half from 1994 highs, and ad revenues have dropped from $65 B to $19 B in 2016. With dwindling payroll cash to dispense, publishers have cut newsroom employment by half since 2008...” @craignewmark @PaulGlader
David Plymyer / @dplymyer: His point: If Alden gains control of Tribune, it's all over but the shouting and Alden shouldn't profit from destruction of Tribune papers, incl Sun. “OPINION | Care About Journalism? Maybe You Should Cancel Your Newspaper” via @politico
Jon Harris / @byjonharris: Interesting thoughts from @jackshafer: “When you pay for a newspaper, you're also making a decision to send money to whoever owns it,” he writes, on a day when Tribune Publishing newspapers learn Alden Global Capital has built a 32% stake in the company
Dan Vock / @danvock: This one is sparking some interesting conversations among my journalist friends
David Plymyer / @dplymyer: Worth a read, if only for his history of what Alden Global Capital has done to papers it owns. Moral of story: Not yet time to hit panic button, but make sure you know where it is for when you do need it.
Matt Welch / @mattwelch: Some eye-opening stats in here.
Elizabeth Crisp / @elizabethcrisp: This guts me to think of people canceling subscriptions in protest when reporters are working hard. Very proud to work for locally-owned paper @theadvocatebr @nolanews OPINION | Care About Journalism? Maybe You Should Cancel Your Newspaper via @politico
Mandy Jenkins / @mjenkins: TL;DR Readers can vote for better news with their wallets, and maybe the Aldens of the world will learn (but probably not). Suggestion: Support a news outlet who serves your needs best - or make one yourself.
Michael Socolow / @michaelsocolow: “When you pay for a newspaper, you're also making a decision to send money to whoever owns it.” @jackshafer makes a thoughtful argument about whether our desire to save local news might only enrich vulture capitalists who cannibalize “papers for profit.”
Harry Siegel / @harrysiegel: “When you pay for a newspaper, you're also making a decision to send money to whoever owns it.” You can't talk seriously about the local news crisis without talking about the out-of-towners stripmining much of what remains of it->
Mathew Ingram / @mathewi: This is a fair point — if your money is going to help Alden Global strip-mine local newspapers for cash, maybe you shouldn't subscribe
Jack Shafer / @jackshafer: New @politico: When It's Okay to Cancel Your Newspaper Subscription

I assume that this is a joke because of its silliness. - now that's an admin tax.

[KevinMarks] Good article. Though I did laugh at "it's a lot easier to move between different readers because the RSS protocol is consistent."

I don't get the joke. I wonder what Marks found funny about moving feeds from one feed reader to another.

22:50 [fluffy] Kiri is one of the few tech-savvy artists I know who also gives a crap about web standards. Most of my artist friends are like “meh whatever, RSS is dead, I just use facebook lol”

22:51 [fluffy] but they used to be a web developer as their main source of income before they pivoted to making art full-time

I would think that Mark would agree that supporting the open web by using feeds, even RSS, is better than losing more people to the silos only.