Tribune Centralizing Online Entertainment Coverage

inside papers. metueOperational efficiency is important for any well run business.  It’s essential for those trying to work from struggle to success. The Tribune Co, still under the protective umbrella of bankruptcy, will try and get leaner by sharing resources across its properties.  The first focus: entertainment.

A joint online entertainment news bureau, apparently to be called “the syndicate” is being created from assets at the LA Times and Zap2it.

According to the company, this new bureau will focus on expanded coverage of movies and TV.  “It will leverage writers and reporters from across [Tribune] properties to bring readers constantly updated blogs and other multimedia news on more than 60 top TV shows,” Click to Read More

New York Times Co Settles Link Aggregation Lawsuit

copyright crosshair metueOn December 22nd, Gatehouse Media  filed suit against a Goliath charging the New York Times Co. with a host of copyright and trademark violations for practices at Times’ owned website and its affiliated properties.  At issue was’s aggregation and reprinting of headlines and their lead sentences (called “ledes”) from Gatehouse owned local news sites without Gatehouse’s approval.  The case was due to begin today with high stakes for the Internet news industry on the line. A settlement was announced instead.

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Billionaire Bailout: Inside the Times Co.’s New $250m Loan

times carlos slim loanThe Tribune Co. got into trouble, ultimately seeking protection through bankruptcy, because it wasn’t able to sell off assets fast enough, or at high enough prices, to service debt. The New York Times, though carrying a far more management debt load, wasn’t going to risk making similar mistakes.

The venerable media company, which has struggled along with its industry,  agreed this week to borrow $250m from Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim Helú (bio).

Upwards of 90 percent of the Times Co.’s revenue comes from its news media businesses. The relative lack of diversification, and simultaneous dependence on advertising in the currently weak market, has squeezed operating profits heavily. Click to Read More

2008: The Changing Face of Newspapers

digital news transformationAs years end and the holiday cycle takes over, the pace of events downshifts to a crawl.  People rest, taking time with friends and family to reflect and recharge.  Vacation’s take over, businesses shutter.  Business events and politics, pause.  Similarly, the news industry reporting on it all, retrenches. In papers and on websites around the world, pages and mastheads usually dotted with zippy headlines and urgent ledes loan space to nostalgic recaps and forward projections; accounts of the year that was and prognostication for the year that will be.

It’s that time of year.

The lists of 2008’s highlights and shortcomings promise to be long.  Many will emphasize the historic U.S. elections and the plight of the global economy.  There will be talk of Wall Street’s upheaval and the auto industry’s implosion, Madoff’s mess and fortunes lost. There will be assessments of the Mideast, reference to oil and gas and the environment. There will be summaries of mergers and acquisitions, those that succeeded and those that failed, highlight reels and shames, box office booms and busts.

So goes the year end process.

In this fervent generation of lists, hopefully,  the news media won’t overlook reviewing itself.  History has yet to write the footnotes, but 2008 is a year that could end up standing out as a part of a watershed period in the evolution of print media, a year when Internet news became a more relied upon source than print (according to a recent Pew Internet survey), a time when digitally rooted upheaval may have finally reached such a pinnacle that it will begin to force the transformation of the industry.

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Books on the DS, Magazines on Google

google-magazines.jpgGoogle’s library is growing.  In addition to serving as the card catalog for the ever-changing mass of digital content on the net, the search giant’s archived rare books and snagged Life Magazine’s photo catalog. They’re also now playing host to a collection of magazine back issues – full spreads, not just links.  

So far, Google has quietly made copies of more than one million articles.    According to a company blog, this is part of a broader initiative to bring more magazine archives and current stock online.  According to Google financials, it may serve another purpose too.

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Broken Printing Press: Tribune in Bankruptcy

tribune bankruptcy smallLast March, the Newspaper Association of America singled out 2007 as the worst downturn in the newspaper print ad business in over 50 years. That was three months into 2008, well before the continued deterioration of the economy this summer and fall, before the banking and automotive industries imploded. 2008 is guaranteed to register as worse.

Newsprint costs have been up. Income down. (Newspaper ad sales were off 18% in Q3(Bloomberg)). Classified ads have further migrated to the Internet. Consumption habits are changing. Traditional local ad buyers (like car dealers) are spending much less.

Punctuating how bad it’s become, the history books will record 2008 as home to the first substantial newspaper bankruptcy in years, decades.

Monday, hindered with debt from last year’s leveraged buyout, the Tribune Company, parent to the Chicago Tribune, The LA Times and the Baltimore Sun, made truths out of early rumors and sought the protection of the Delaware court.

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Cash for Huffington Post

huff financingIt takes strength or ingenuity to swim upstream and navigate a strong current.  More often than not, companies raising sizable venture rounds in this economic climate are relying on their strength (at least when measured by the scale of prior capital commitments).   Last week it was hopeful television visionary Sezmi confirming reports of a $33m round.  This week, it is aspiring media empire Huffington Post that’s claiming their due.

In a series C round committed singly from Oak Investment Partners, Huffington Post has reported a $25million draw.

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