Why The Los Angeles Times Is Investing In A Social Media Content Creation Team
Los Angeles Times has formed a six-person team to create content on Instagram and TikTok for a young, diverse audience that may not already be part of the news publisher’s audience. Called 404 by L.A. Times, the team includes content creators, artists, filmmakers, writers and even a puppeteer.
But the 404 team’s goal is not to promote the L.A. Times’ journalism, link back to the site or even to create content for the L.A. Times’ website. Instead, 404’s primary onus is to reach people who “don’t subscribe to the Times, don’t know about the Times, that are in L.A. – who are young and people of color and get their news on social media,” said Samantha Melbourneweaver, the L.A. Times’ assistant managing editor for audience, who is overseeing the team.
It’s a combination of “folks who are maybe in their 30s or 40s – a little bit more established, digital-first consumers” and “extremely online, college-age kids,” said Angie Jaime, the L.A. Times’ first head of creator content and the 404’s team leader. The type of people who are “cord-cutters, digital audio listeners – who are almost consuming media exclusively online or on mobile.”
The 404 team members – who are nearly all new, full-time hires at The L.A. Times – are focusing on four main categories of content for Instagram and TikTok, according to Jaime: video (TikToks, Reels, mini documentaries), images (memes, illustrations, comics), creator collaborations (co-created content with writers, actors, editors, musicians and artists based in L.A.) and emerging platforms (AR/VR, audio and livestreams). They post to TikTok once a day (though the goal is to ramp that up to three times a day), and to Instagram three times a day
Gaines Family To Sell Bowling Green Daily News To Carpenter Newsmedia, LLC/Boone Newspapers Inc
After 140 years of local ownership by the Gaines family of Bowling Green, an agreement has been reached to sell the Bowling Green (Kentucky) Daily News to Carpenter Newsmedia LLC, an affiliate of Boone Newspapers Inc., a family owned organization based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, according to Randy Cope, director, Cribb, Cope & Potts, who represents the Gaines family.
The sale is expected to close June 30. The transaction includes the Daily News, along with four other publications — the Country Peddler weekly shopper and three magazines: Bowling Green Home and Lifestyles, South Central Kentucky Homes and Auction Guide.
“It was indeed a difficult decision, and it wasn’t one that was made quickly or easily,” said Pipes Gaines, publisher emeritus of the Daily News and co-owner of the newspaper along with his sons, Publisher Scott Gaines and Editor Steve Gaines. “For 140 years, it’s been an incredible legacy. We look back on it with a lot of pride. “Over the decades we have put out a quality product that has served our advertisers and readers very well. … We didn’t do this by ourselves. The employees who work here now or in the past have had a major part in any success we have had.”
Boone Newspapers owns or manages more than 90 newspapers and other publications in 12 states, according to the company’s website, including several in Kentucky. BNI’s controlling stockholder is Chairman Jim Boone of Tuscaloosa, and his wife and children own all other stock in the company. Todd H. Carpenter, based in Natchez, Mississippi, is the company’s president and CEO. Carpenter said BNI does not take lightly the standard set by the Gaines family in its many decades of Daily News ownership.
Further Challenges For Newspapers
Despite some success growing their business online, U.S. newspapers will continue seeing overall sales decline, according to a new forecast. The bleak outlook highlights the urgent need for federal intervention to help save an industry that’s essential to self-governance and civic engagement.
News publishers are finding some success with digital business models but overall circulation will continue falling through 2026, according to the U.S. Entertainment & Media Outlook released this week by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The forecast shows large trends reshaping the news industry as it adjusts to the wholesale loss of advertising sales to a few dominant tech platforms. “Despite growing signs of digital success for some publishers, the changing habits of readers and advertisers will continue to take a significant toll on the U.S. newspaper market across the forecast period,” the report said.
This stands in contrast to media and entertainment overall. That broader industry is forecast by PwC to see a 4.6% compound annual growth rate from 2021 to 2026. Advertising sales are rebounding from the pandemic downturn. PwC expects ad sales to grow 6.6% on average through 2026, with internet ad sales growing 9.1%.
Yet newspapers in the U.S., the biggest newspaper market by far, will see revenue decline an average of 2% per year through 2026, the forecast said. It said a tipping point will come in 2022 when newspaper circulation revenue, both print and digital, will overtake total ad revenue for the first time. Newspaper owners are “increasingly successful in building digital subscription bases and implementing paywalls” to achieve scale and balance long-term print circulation declines, the forecast said.
Publishers Grapple With Younger Audiences Avoiding The News
The report found a few main reasons. Readers younger than 35 found the news cycle to be too repetitive on topics like politics and COVID-19. The news brings down their mood. The news is hard to understand and follow. And they don’t trust the news: people under 35 are the lowest-trusting age group in Reuters’ report, with 37% of both 18–24s and 25–34s across all markets saying they trust most news most of the time, compared with 47% of those 55 and older.
If these readers are actively choosing to avoid news content, the issue of converting them into paying subscribers becomes even more challenging for news publishers. Just 17% of those under 35 in the U.S. are news subscribers to a digital news service, the Reuters report found.
These hurdles are likely why legacy news publishers are increasingly forming teams dedicated to reaching young people. The Los Angeles Times created a team this month devoted to creating content exclusively on Instagram. The Washington Post formed a task force last August to figure out how to attract more young and diverse readers. The Post’s first Instagram editor, Travis Lyles, was promoted this month to deputy director, social, off-platform curation, moving the social teams under the Post’s Universal News Desk to centralize The Post’s curation and distribution efforts.