The New York Times Announces A New Weekly Interview Franchise
We are excited to announce the creation of a new weekly New York Times interview franchise that will provide readers and listeners with intimate, in-depth conversations with notable people from all realms of public life. It will be cohosted by David Marchese, the Magazine’s Talk interviewer, and Lulu Garcia-Navarro, a veteran and well-known audio journalist who hosted “First Person,” an interview show for Opinion Audio, after 17 years at NPR.
We’ll publish this new franchise as a podcast for those who want to listen to the interviews, and also as a text Q. and
A. for those who prefer to read. It will launch next year and be based at the Magazine.
The creation of this new franchise stems from our belief that rich interviews that engage with public figures in their own words are central to helping our audience understand the world. It will build on the success of David’s Talk column, which has been one of the most popular features on our site over the past five years.
We’re excited to bring together two master interviewers for this new venture. Lulu joined The Times in 2021 from NPR, where she held one of the most prominent jobs in audio journalism, as one of the hosts of “Weekend Edition.” The winner of two Peabody Awards, she is known for the empathy, range and rigor of her many interviews, all of which were on vivid display in the recent interview she did with the Israeli writer Etgar Keret, which appeared as both a crafted longform Q. and A. and an audio interview.
David took over the Magazine’s Talk column in 2018. Since then he has conducted more than 130 interviews, with figures including Jane Goodall, Yo-Yo Ma, Rosie Perez, Paul Ryan, Bono and Tom Hanks. His interviews are often marked by surprising revelations, deep research and a probing, conversational quality that disarms his subjects (a common refrain is “No one’s ever asked me that before!”). His recent interview with Jann Wenner made headlines around the world.
This new franchise has been conceived and developed as a partnership between the Magazine and the Audio team. It will be overseen by Allison Benedikt, formerly the editorial director at Opinion. Allison joined The Times last year from Slate, where she was executive editor. Audio editor Anabel Bacon and producer Wyatt Orme will be part of the team, which we’ll continue building in the coming months.
Why Moving Public Notices To Government Websites Is A Bad Idea
Last year, the FL Legislature passed a public notice bill (HB 7049) that went into effect Jan. 1. The new law gives counties the option to place public notices solely on their own government website and dispense with any such notice in the traditional format — newspapers and newspaper websites.
The reasons given for county websites vary — saving the government money, newspapers are dying, it’s a newspaper subsidy, no one reads public notices, etc. But a closer look reveals another side to the story, one that casts doubt and reveals the downsides of such a plan.
In fact, government website-only notice will push government actions further into the shadows and make it less transparent. And it will make it harder for Floridians to monitor their local government and hold their leaders accountable.
Public notices cover a host of government activities, ranging from local millage rates and zoning changes to delinquent taxes and school board decisions. They can herald an important hearing by elected officials on matters crucial to everyday lives. The notices are, in fact, a form of basic constitutional due process protecting the rights of citizens and their property in a functioning democracy.
Under the traditional process, the notices are not just placed in the printed newspaper. They are also required by law to be posted visibly on the newspaper’s website. In addition, the notices are required to be uploaded to a searchable FPA website that aggregates all Florida government notices at.
If a citizen wants follow-up notices to those posted to the site (or the newspaper’s site), he or she can request email alerts of the new notices. These services – required by law – are free to the public; there is no paywall. What’s more, the aggregated site continues to be modernized and upgraded to serve Florida’s state government, as well as its towns, municipalities, businesses and taxpayers.
If this traditional process is discarded and notices move to the county website, they no longer will be posted in newspapers or on the statewide website. The result will be a county-by-county patchwork of notices around the states
— making public notices less visible and accessible to the public.
What about the claim that newspapers are dying? While print circulation in daily papers has declined, weekly newspapers are growing, and our dailies are seeing increases in digital subscriptions and page views. In some cases, newspapers are experiencing double-digit online growth.
Newspapers in Florida alone reach 5.6 million readers in any given week, and our newspaper websites typically reach more audience than most city or county websites and draw a minimum of 53 million unique online users in any given month. The claim of newspaper irrelevancy is simply not true. They are more relevant than ever.
So, what about cost savings the government websites will produce? In the counties considering this change, no specific savings have been outlined, including Volusia County. If county websites replace newspapers, the local governments will be required to recreate the same infrastructure newspaper have already have — increasing the cost of government.
In addition, without an investment in marketing to direct citizens to hundreds of government websites, the public will not know where to find public notices. Also, on the expense front, county government public notice websites will also be required to provide citizens, if requested, a copy of notices via email or first-class mail — another new cost.
As for the charge that the notices are a newspaper subsidy, it’s true newspapers derive some revenue from them but calling it a subsidy ignores the fact that newspapers perform a service just as other county vendors do. This issue is not only about the money. It’s about an independent publisher helping to ensure government transparency and honesty. Public notices belong in a public forum – newspapers – where citizens are most likely to see them. Public notices should remain in newspapers, not placed on hundreds of different government websites with the hope that people will find them.
Digital Revenue Profitability Confusing For Local Media Companies
Reaching digital revenue profitability for local media companies varies based on many factors.
A survey of financial executives released Friday shows 41.5% as the average gross margin and 32.8% as the average earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).
The results of the survey — How Profitable Is Digital Revenue — found the greatest challenges are accurately tracking and maintaining profitability of digital products, and points to the entanglement of digital with broadcast media products, because they are not clearly differentiated.
The main challenges among the top five included:
• Ensuring revenue and expenses are appropriately identified, as well as the volume of tracking multiple vendors
• Revenue is bucketed by web apps, offsite, and programmatic, while expenses, other than commissions, are not broken down, and it is labor-intensive to track third-party costs to digital campaigns
• Accumulating all costs and getting the information in a timely manner
• Separating digital-only expenses when packages are sold with legacy print products – and no segregated costs for digital media
The online survey with email solicitations was fielded between October 24 and November 2, 2023, and targeted the executive members of the Media Financial Management Association, as well as Borrell Associates clients. All but one of the 58 responses were from U.S. media companies representing newspapers, radio, TV, cable, outdoor, and magazines.
Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell pointed to adjusted Q3 2023 operating margins for digital revenue from several companies including Townsquare at 31.8%, iHeart Media at 30.9%, Gannett DMS at 11.4%, and Entravision at 14.4%.
While executives expressed a high degree of confidence in the calculations, some expenses associated with digital operations were excluded. Some 81% said they were calculating digital profitability, while 71% of survey participants said their companies have a formal framework for calculating digital profitability.
The survey asked executives to cite company estimates for individual profit margins on a variety of products and services While search engine marketing came in at the very bottom with 23%, the average top four included banner display advertising at 65%, followed by mobile app advertising at 57%, whle targeted display advertising and email both came in at 53%.
Website development also ranked low on average at 38%, with social-media advertising at 35%.
On average, companies report revenue 11 digital products, and profit margins are calculated for an average of seven digital products. Interestingly, the highest profitability reported was for email newsletters, mobile advertising, banners, and geofenced ads. When calculating expenses for digital operations, most do not include shared resources with the core product, including production staff, equipment, and office space.