A New Study Shows What Happens When Big Companies Take Over Local News
From Alden Global Capital to Sinclair Media, tales of corporate media takeovers of local news outlets — and their chilling effects — are everywhere. A new study published late last month in New Media & Society journal provides further evidence of the devastating consequences of corporate ownership.
The authors of the study looked at a sample of 31 corporate-owned papers and 130,000 articles published by these outlets before and after they were acquired. The publications they examined ranged from The Denver Post (whose parent company was acquired by Alden Capital in 2010), the New York Daily News (initially acquired in 2017 by Tribune Publishing and then four years later by Alden), LA Weekly (acquired by Semanal Media LLC in 2017), and 28 papers in California published by Digital First Media (also owned by Alden).
Here’s an overview of what the study found:
• Acquisition leads to a significant, but not disproportional, decrease in the volume of local content produced by local newspapers;
• Coverage of local places in the periods following acquisition is significantly more concentrated than coverage in the periods prior to acquisition;
• Articles produced to be shared across regional hubs of newspapers are significantly less local—and discursively more national—than articles unique to a given newspaper.
While these changes weren’t unexpected to the authors of the paper, there were a few surprises. “What was so shocking to me is that all the acquisitions led to staffing changes almost immediately and an almost immediate drop in content”.
Lee Faces Renewed Pressure From Hedge Funds
Newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises is facing renewed pressure from a hedge fund to speed up its transition to digital publishing and consider adding new digital-savvy leaders to its board after successfully fighting off a hostile takeover from a different hedge fund.
Lee’s largest shareholder, Cannell Capital, this week disclosed buying nearly 20,000 more of the company’s shares, giving it a 9.1% stake. The fund’s head, Carlo Cannell, said he thinks Lee needs new board members and executives with experience running a digital publishing business. “I have some confidence in (Lee’s) management — not a lot,” Cannell said in an interview. “I have great or very little confidence in the board depending on which board member you are referring to.”
Cannell Capital has been prodding Lee to make changes for several years. That includes running a 2019 campaign encouraging shareholders to vote against three board members, including Lee Chairman Mary Junck, and announcing last September that it planned to vote against all incumbent Lee board members.
Cannell Capital and another hedge fund that owns a large stake in Lee, Praetorian Capital, also questioned the amount Lee spent on advisors as it was fending off a $24 per share takeover offer from another hedge fund, Alden Global Capital. But the investor who leads Praetorian, Harris Kupperman, has indicated that he is more comfortable with the company’s current direction.
Apollo Global Considers Participating In A Bid For Twitter
Apollo Global Management Inc. is considering participating in a bid for Twitter Inc., TWTR 0.54% › according to people familiar with the matter, after Elon Musk’s $43 billion bid put the social-media company in play. Apollo, one of the world’s largest buyout firms, has held discussions about backing a possible deal for Twitter and could provide Mr. Musk or another bidder like private-equity firm Thoma Bravo LP with equity or debt to support an offer, the people said. Apollo, which owns Yahoo, has also been evaluating potential cooperation between the online-media company and Twitter, the people said. There is no guarantee Twitter would be receptive to that, or any other deal.
Twitter is expected to rebuff Mr. Musk’s offer in the coming days, some of the people said. The company is set to report earnings April 28 and may detail its stance then. Either way, Apollo’s interest adds to a list of Wall Street heavyweights, including Morgan Stanley, lined up to support a deal for Twitter, which despite the popularity of its platform has struggled to grow.
Private-equity firms including Thoma Bravo are circling Twitter, people familiar with the matter said last week after Mr. Musk launched his surprise bid. There is no guarantee any private-equity firm will end up making a firm bid, whether for the entire company or just a portion, and there may well be no deal in the end—with Mr. Musk or anyone else.
Taking Twitter private would rank as one of the largest leveraged buyouts of all time, and the company doesn’t have the attributes of a typical LBO target like strong, stable cash flow.
Navigating The Shifting Political Ad Terrain In 2022
Forget technical expertise. It might be the right relationships that get your digital ads in front of the right voters this cycle. And forging those relationships could require working around the industry’s digital ad resellers. In fact, Mike Adam of the GOP firm National Media advised buyers concerned about quality inventory to cut out those in the middle this cycle. It’s better to go “to the source and [try] to buy the best impressions they have, the best inventory,” Adam said during C&E’s CampaignTech East conference on April 7.
Now, for agencies who need to weather a guaranteed-to-change digital ad environment, working with multiple trusted DSPs is critical, according to Beth Clayton Pierce, a partner and COO of Turn It Blue Digital. “Because at the end of the day, there’s a lot of this that we’re going on faith that we’re all being good actors here,” she said.
Is Your Audience Human Or Bot?
ublishers provide readers with engaging information that encourages them to return for more insights. These readers might visit a publisher’s website directly if they subscribe, or as the result of a Google search or through marketing efforts by the publisher. Publishers want real people to visit their websites and interact with their content, but if steps aren’t taken to protect their sites, a significant portion of a website’s traffic can be robotic.
What is valid traffic? Valid traffic is any human user who visits a website and engages with the content or converts. While bots can click and visit pages, they cannot buy products, request and attend demos or perform other actions of value. Human traffic provides value to marketers, which makes such traffic valid. The Media Rating Council (MRC) defines invalid traffic (or IVT) as “traffic that does not meet certain ad serving quality or completeness criteria, or otherwise does not represent legitimate ad traffic that should be included in measurement counts.”
How to identify invalid traffic Identifying IVT is aided by using sophisticated technology, but it’s also helpful to know your audience and ask common sense questions to determine if traffic patterns look abnormal.
Traffic patterns are unique to each publisher and may be affected by characteristics such as the region in which your readers are located, the times of day they typically view content, or what seasons see the most activity.