Media Upheaval - Globe’s Labor Strife, Weekly Standard Shuttered & Big Local Advertising Changes

Monday, December 17, 2018


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Labor unrest at the Boston Globe

This past week was another week of upheaval in the media industry. The Boston Globe is facing major labor unrest, Nexstar -- which owns Providence’s CBS affiliate WPRI-12 -- has settled anti-trust charges with the U.S. Department of Justice, and one of America’s top conservative publications was shut down under a cloud of controversy.

And, Patch, the hyper-local news platform which once employed more than 20 in RI, no longer has a single reporter in the state. 

See Six Big Transformations Below


Related Slideshow: Media Upheaval - Globe Labor Strife, Weekly Standard Shuttered, and Big Local Adv. Change Direction

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Globe Labor Trouble

The Boston Globe’s guild and the paper’s management led by Red Sox Owner billionaire John Henry are now in the midst of a new labor dispute. For Henry, the Globe ownership was supposed to be a reinvention of the newspaper, but in many ways has turned into a house of horrors.

The latest is a brewing dispute between the union and ownership. In the past few months the Globe has been hit by an exodus of top reporters, sexual harassment charges against its editor (determined by the paper to be without merit), and the suspension of a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for falsifying a column.

This all comes on top of distribution problems and printing problems -- the bright spot under Henry’s ownership has been the growth of digital subscriptions with topped 100,000 this past summer.

But, now the Globe faces a union battle. According to Dan Kennedy, Professor at Northeastern, the Guild’s negotiating committee sent the following to its membership:

Dear Guild members,

We need your help — The company has hired a prominent attorney from D.C. known for union-busting in the media industry.

During negotiations for a new contract with the Guild, the company has presented a ridiculous and draconian proposal that would strip away essential protections and provisions in the contract like overtime, seniority, pay scales, job descriptions, severance as well as limit the time and scope of issues members can grieve and  arbitrate, and more. The paltry offer of 2 percent raises, an increase to 401k and paid parental leave (by reducing sick time for everyone) is frankly insulting.  We are offended by their offer and we know many of you are too.

We’ve told them as much, now they need to hear it from you.

To show our disgust with their offer and our unity in fighting for a fair contract, we’re asking all members to wear your bright red BNG T-shirts on Tuesday. If you’re out of the office, drape it over your desk chair. After Tuesday, keep your shirts visible around the office.

If you don’t have a T-shirt already let us know and we’ll get you one by Monday. Boxes are on their way to State Street and Taunton so we can hand them out.

Also, please follow and stay tuned to the Guild’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This is just a first step. More actions are being planned and we’ll send you information about those soon.

We need to show the company their proposal is unacceptable.

In Solidarity,
BNG Negotiating Committee & BNG Action Committee

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Patch Staffless in RI

The hyper-local news platform which was first launched in 2007 and then was purchased by AOL is now staffless for its sites in RI. At the height of the staffing in RI, Patch had more than 20 full-time employees and dozens of freelancers. AOL lost hundreds of millions and spun the company off to the workout company Hale Global. Staffing in RI has plummeted since.

"Unfortunately, our RI correspondent just left and we're currently looking for another one. We do have folks who are posting regular content on the blog space across the state with updates about what's happening in their neighborhoods," said Jenna Fisher, reporter, Boston Metro Editor in an email to GoLocal.

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Conservative "Weekly Standard" Is Closed

Was it bad business or Trump’s revenge?

Phil Anschutz, the billionaire owner of the Weekly Standard, also owns the Washington Examiner — a pro-Trump digital news organization in D.C. and depending on whose version you care to accept, the Weekly Standard was closed for political reasons.

Two of the founders -- William Kristol and Fred Barnes -- voiced frustration that the publication was not shopped to potential buyers.

David Brooks, a former contributor and now a NY Times columnist wrote in his Sunday column:

I’ve only been around Phil Anschutz a few times. My impressions on those occasions was that he was a run-of-the-mill arrogant billionaire. He was used to people courting him and he addressed them condescendingly from the lofty height of his own wealth.

I’ve never met Ryan McKibben, who runs part of Anschutz’s media group. But stories about him have circulated around Washington over the years. The stories suggest that he is an ordinary corporate bureaucrat — with all the petty vanities and the lack of interest in ideas that go with the type.

This week, Anschutz and McKibbin murdered The Weekly Standard, the conservative opinion magazine that Anschutz owned. They didn’t merely close it because it was losing money. They seemed to have murdered it out of greed and vengeance.

Read More Here

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Big Local Advertisers Are Shifting Digital - Says Borrell

According to media consultant Gordon Borrell, "Social media tops the list of marketing methods for big local advertisers.  But when you average out what they're spending, this list is almost reversed.  They average $29,561 on social media, and four to almost 10x that amount on newspapers, radio, & TV advertising."

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Cooke Outlines the Challenges to Print and Cites GoLocal as the Potential Solution

Media consultant Holland Cooke outlines the quickening demise of newspapers -- and that GoLocal is one of the emerging models to provide local news.

Watch video below

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WPRI-12's Parent Company Reaches Settlement with Dept. of Justice

The Department of Justice announced Friday that it has reached a settlement with Nexstar Media Group Inc.  — the parent company of WPRI-12  — and one of the largest owners of television stations in the country, as part of its ongoing investigation into exchanges of competitively sensitive information in the broadcast television industry. 

Justice filed an amended complaint today in the case United States v. Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., et al., adding Nexstar Media Group Inc. as a defendant.  Sinclair is the parent company of WJAR-10.

At the same time, the Department filed a proposed settlement with Nexstar that, if approved by the court, would resolve the competitive harm alleged in the complaint.  The Department filed its original complaint in the case on Nov. 13, 2018, along with proposed settlements with six other television broadcasting companies said the DOJ.

“The Antitrust Division continues its efforts to stop the unlawful exchange of competitively sensitive information in the television broadcast industry,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “Robust competition among broadcast stations allows American businesses to obtain competitive advertising rates.  The unlawful sharing of information reduced that competition and harmed businesses and the consumers they serve.”


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