• Chris DeWolfe is out as the CEO of News Corp.-owned MySpace. [CNN]
• More on Peter Kaplan's split from Jared Kushner's Observer, and the rumor Kaplan is now heading to Condé Nast Traveler. [NYT, WWD, DHD]
• ABC has renewed 12 series, including Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, Grey's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives. [THR]
• Viacom, the parent company BET, is planning to start up a new cable TV channel for middle-aged African-Americans. [NYT]
• Barry Diller is looking to shed his email newsletter Very Short List. Bob Pittman and Jared Kushner have taken a look; co-founders Kurt Andersen and Michael Jackson are considering a management buyout. [NYP]
• The New York Times Co. foundation is suspending its grants and no longer matching employees' charitable donations. [Gawker]
• Marty Peretz, former owner of the New Republic, is buying back the mag with a group of investors led by former Lazard exec Laurence Grafstein. [Politico]
• The New York Times Co. has successfully raised $225 million by selling off 21 floors of its Eighth Avenue office building. [NYT]
• "Was last week the worst one in CNBC's 20-year history—or the best?" asks the Times today. Thanks in part to Jon Stewart, we're pretty sure it was its worst, but ratings are up so CNBC execs aren't complaining. [NYT]
• Carl Icahn is stepping up his effort to take control of Lionsgate. [Variety]
• McClatchy, which publishes 30 daily newspapers, says it plans to slash 1,600 jobs, or 15% of its work force, as well as cut salaries across the board. [WSJ]
• Mag covers with Barack Obama have performed well, by and large. [NYP]
• Watchmen was No. 1 at the weekend box office, grossing $55.7 million. [EW]
• The Tribeca Film Festival announced its May lineup today. [THR]
Here's our theory: Daily deadlines did in the newspaper industry. The pressure of getting to press, the long-practiced art of doom-and-gloom headline writing, the flinchiness of easily spooked editors all made it impossible for ink-stained wretches to look farther into the future than the next edition. Speaking of doom and gloom: Online ad revenues at several major newspaper chains actually dropped last quarter. The surprise there is that they ever managed to rise. The newspaper industry has a devastating history of letting the future of media slip from its grasp. Where to start? Perhaps 1995, when several newspaper chains put $9 million into a consortium called New Century Network. "The granddaddy of fuckups," as one suitably crotchety industry veteran tells us, folded in 1998. Or you can go further back, to '80s adventures in videotext. But each tale ends the same way: A promising start, shuttered amid fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Online advertising revenues declined at newspaper publishers Tribune, Lee Enterprises, and E.W. Scripps during the last quarter. While online newspaper ad revenue grew 31 percent in 2005 and 2006, it only expanded 19 percent in 2007. The problem? Besides an awful overall ad market, newspaper analyst Randy Bennett told AdAge that some papers don't build a enough of a wall between their Web sales and print sales. The temptation for many newspapers is to sell advertisers on print first and throw in online as a bonus. McClatchy newspapers, which managed to grow its online revenues 12 percent last quarter, only relies on its print advertisers for 50 percent of its online ads.
Gannett-the largest newspaper company in America and owner of USA Today-said today it plans to cut 1,000 jobs from its smaller local papers. That amounts to about 3% of the total workforce. Six hundred of those cuts will likely be in the form of layoffs. It's a rough message, coming on the same day that rival McClatchy announced a wage freeze, Cox announced its desperate newspaper fire sale, and Sam Zell's Tribune Company lost its daily $20 million. Nobody seems able to find a competitive advantage in their rivals' misfortune. A month ago, a rash of cuts at print publications made us declare Print's Black Wednesday; today, Black Thursday, has been even worse. Soon the newspaper industry won't have any days left.
McClatchy, the struggling newspaper chain that made an ill-fated purchase of Knight Ridder in 2006, has just sent out a memo announcing that it is freezing employee wages across the entire company for the next year. The message that is increasingly going out to newspaper employees: accept wage freezes (or cuts), buyouts, and layoffs, or face total extinction. The full McClatchy memo is after the jump:
This seems like a turning point of some sort. A tipster says the McCatchy-owned Kansas City Star just laid off the entire ad services department. And outsourced the jobs to India! Even more fun: before everyone's last day this summer, their Indian replacements will be flown in so the outgoing ad team can train them. McClatchy's already done this at some of their other holdings, including the Miami Herald, the Sacremento Bee, and the Raleigh News & Observer. Everyone please continue panicking. (Of course, journos didn't care so much when all the printing plant jobs disappeared, but still. The ad people work in the same building.)
Yesterday Knight Ridder finally agreed to sell itself. The pricetag is $4.5 billion and the purchaser is the McClatchy Company, a much smaller newspaper chain heretofore concentrated in California and the Southeast. For editorial types, this is good news: People who value journalism would rather see a newspaper company win an auction like this one than a soulless private-equity firm, and, even, McClatchy is considered to be one of the best newspaper chains. (Its papers spend money on reporting and win awards and — even better — almost always see circulation gains, which is basically unheard of.)