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Johnston Press delays reporting financial results as it negotiates with lenders

March 28th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Local media

Johnston Press has delayed the reporting of last year’s financial results while it negotiates with lenders.

The local news publisher of around 260 titles, which is based in Edinburgh, was due to report its full-year results for 2011 on Tuesday (3 April).

It is describing discussions with lenders as “constructive”.

In a statement JP says it is changing its preliminary results date to 25 April.

The company has been in constructive discussions with its lenders regarding the extension of its credit facilities for a further three years from their current maturity on 30 September 2012 and will provide a further update to the market as part of the preliminary results announcement.

Last week Ashley Highfield, who started as JP’s chief executive in November signaled that the publisher is adopting a “digital first” strategy.

During the same appearance, at the Guardian Media Summit, he stated that “every one of our newspapers is profitable”, but added that to “make more money out of digital we still have a long way to go”.

He said the local newspaper group aims for profit margins of 20 per cent.

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Is CNN about to buy Mashable?

March 12th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business

Reuters is reporting that CNN is expected to buy social media and technology site Mashable for more than $200 million (£128 million).

Felix Salmon, a Reuters blogger reporting from the annual South by Southwest technology conference held in Austin, Texas, says in a video posted last night (Sunday) that the broadcaster is expected to make an announcement tomorrow (Tuesday, 13 March).

In the video Salmon states:

Mashable is this huge website, it’s got the same kind of consumer focus that CNN does, it’s not aimed for the tech insiders, it’s aimed at the masses.

Mashable was set up in Scotland by Pete Cashmore who was then 19. It now has bases in New York and San Francisco and has more than 20 million monthly readers, according to the Reuters video.

However, paidContent suggests that a deal is far from being announced and suggests the story based on Salmon’s single, unnamed source is merely rumour.

Staci D. Kramer writes:

A source familiar with the situation describes the report of a deal as a rumour and tells paidContent no announcement is scheduled.

Well-known acquisitions of online-only news sites include AOL buying TechCrunch, and its Huffington Post purchase last year on which is spent £195 million.

CNN responded to a request by Journalism.co.uk for comments saying:

We do not engage in speculation about our business and we aren’t commenting on these reports.

Salmon’s video is below:

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#jpod – Crowdfunding for journalism: is it working?

In the past few years a number of projects have cropped up which are trying to use crowdfunding as one mean to finance individual journalism pitches as well as journalism-related companies.

In this week’s podcast we speak to those who have ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt’ when it comes to crowdsourcing revenues and can share the lessons learned along the way, as well as hearing from those taking their first steps on this path.

Interviewees included in the podcast are:

  • David Cohn, founder, Spot.Us
  • Bobbie Johnson, co-founder, Matter
  • Henry Peirse, founder and CEO, GRN
  • Karim Ben Khelifa, co-founder and CEO, Emphas.is
  • Rachel Howells, director, Local News South Wales/Port Talbot MagNet

For some background reading you can see more about the launch of Emphas.is last year at this link, as well as the launch of Matter just last month. GRN has also blogged about the launch of Matter on its website.

Journalism.co.uk has also reported on Port Talbot’s crowdfunding ventures with Pitch-in! at this link.

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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#ftmedia12: FT content revenues could overtake advertising in 2012

March 7th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Advertising, Business, Journalism

Image copyright Chris Young/PA

This year “could well be” the first year in its history that content revenues, including print and digital, overtake advertising revenues at the Financial Times, its chief executive, John Ridding, told the news organisation’s Digital Media Conference today.

The latest figures show content revenues for the FT accounted for 41 per cent in 2011, while advertising revenues accounted for the majority.

Speaking on a panel debating “the future of digital journalism and news”, Ridding said the FT’s relationship with its readers has helped to “sustain” quality journalism.

Having that understanding about what readers want is very helpful in continuing to improve the quality of journalism we provide.

We are confident in the business model and confident it will not just sustain quality journalism but enable us to further build quality journalism.

The site currently offers free registration which gives users access to eight articles a month, after which they would need to pay a subscription to access further content.

During the panel Ridding also spoke about mobile, which he said has been “a complete game-changer” for the FT.

One of my issues to start with was will the kind of content we do work on mobile? The answer is yes.

He added that one question to consider is whether there are ways publishers can reach out to “large continental economies” via mobile and tablet devices, such as by using “incentives … to stimulate that demand”.

Last month the FT’s parent company Pearson reported in its end-of-year results that FT Group revenues increased by six per cent to £427m in 2011.

Digital subscriptions to the FT were said to be up 29 per cent year-on-year to 267,000 and registered users on FT.com had risen by 33 per cent.

Last week paidContent reported that “in the US, to where its online chief recently relocated, digital subscriptions have now overtaken print subscriptions”.

The interview with Riddings also revealed that content revenues are expected to overtake ad revenue in 2012.

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Note to staff from News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch in full

February 17th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Journalism, Newspapers

The note from News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch to staff, which announces the due launch of the Sun on Sunday and the lifting of suspensions, in full:

Dear colleagues:

I’ve worked alongside you for 43 years to build The Sun into one of the world’s finest papers. It is a part of me and is one of our proudest achievements.  The Sun occupies a unique and important position within News Corporation.

I have immense respect for our heritage, your exceptional journalism and, above all, you, the talented women and men who work tirelessly every day to ensure our readers have access to such a trusted news source. I believe this newsroom is full of great journalists and I remain grateful for your superb work and for the stories you uncover to inform and protect the public. None more so than over the last three weeks.

My continuing respect makes this situation a source of great pain for me, as I know it is for each of you.

We will obey the law.  Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated – at any of our publications. Our Board of Directors, our management team and I take these issues very seriously.

Our independently chaired Management & Standards Committee, which operates outside of News International, has been instructed to cooperate with the police. We will turn over every piece of evidence we find — not just because we are obligated to but because it is the right thing to do.

We are doing everything we can to assist those who were arrested — all suspensions are hereby lifted until or whether charged and they are welcome to return to work. News Corporation will cover their legal expenses.  Everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise.

I made a commitment last summer that I would do everything I could to get to the bottom of our problems and make this Company an example to Fleet Street of ethical journalism. We will continue to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to protect legitimate journalistic privilege and sources, which I know are essential for all of you to do your jobs. But we cannot protect people who have paid public officials.

I am confident we can live by these commitments and still produce great journalism.

We will build on The Sun’s proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday very soon. Our duty is to expand one of the world’s most widely read newspapers and reach even more people than ever before.

Having a winning paper is the best answer to our critics.

I am even more determined to see The Sun continue to fight for its readers and its beliefs. I am staying with you all, in London, for the next several weeks to give you my unwavering support.

I am confident we will get through this together and emerge stronger.

Thank you,

Rupert Murdoch

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Media release: Piano Media raises paywall price with ‘steady revenue’ in place

February 14th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

Piano Media has announced that it is raising the price of the national paywall it established in Slovakia last year, a move its CEO Tomas Bella says in a release had been the plan for once the platform was “accepted”.

The decision to raise the price follows the launch of the company’s second joint national paywall in Slovenia last month, involving nine publishers in the country.

In Slovakia the price will go up from 1 March, the release adds, from €.99 to €1.39 a week, €2.90 to €3.90 a month and from €29 to €39 for a year.

With steady revenue and reader growth established, Piano’s pricing structure moves into its next development phase after gaining broad acceptance by Slovakia’s digital readers.

In the release Bella adds: “The number of our subscribers is still going up. More and more people are telling us that they were against the concept at first but now have gotten used to the idea and already feel comfortable with paying.”

The company confirmed in the release that it “is in negotiations with publishers in 11 European countries and has plans to launch in more European markets by the end of 2012″.

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Financial Times: Sunday version of the Sun on hold due to arrests

January 31st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers

Sean Dempsey/PA

The Financial Times is reporting that the launch of a Sunday newspaper “to replace the News of the World” has been delayed due to the arrests of News International journalists at the weekend.

On Saturday (28 January), four current and former Sun journalists were arrested by officers working on Operation Elveden, the Met team looking into illegal payments to police.

The FT reports that a launch date of 29 April had “been set in stone”. Journalism.co.uk heard late on Friday, the day before the arrests, that the launch date had been brought forward.

The insiders said that managers of News International had decided that the adverse publicity surrounding the arrests and the suspension of the four journalists while police inquiries were going on would hamper any possible launch of a new title, which earlier reports said would be called the Sun on Sunday.

The article includes a comment from anonymous insiders, plus an interview with former chief reporter at the News of the World Neville Thurlbeck.

Mr Thurlbeck said that an internal group, the management and standards committee, set up at the direction of Rupert Murdoch to co-operate with a police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World, had handed over so much material that it had lost control of the situation.

“The staff [of the Sun] have lost trust in their own management because they [the MSC] don’t believe that they know what is contained in the material that the police now have.”

The FT adds that News International declined to comment.

The full Financial Times article is at this link [part-paywall].

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#jpod – Paywalls: Helping readers over the fence

January 13th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Podcast

A part-paywall will go up on a number of news sites in Slovenia on Monday (16 January), following a group paywall model first introduced in Slovakia by Piano Media.

In this week’s podcast Journalism.co.uk technology correspondent Sarah Marshall speaks to Tomas Bella, the CEO of Piano Media; Frédéric Filloux, managing director for digital operations at French newspaper business Les Echo, who, until recently, was also managing director of ePresse, a consortium of French publishers; and François Nel, founding director of the journalism leaders programme at the University of Central Lancashire and co-founder of the Digital Editors’ Network, an academic who has carried out extensive research on how publishers can make money online.

Filloux talks about the digital kiosk set up by ePresse and outlines his theory shared on his Monday Note newsletter that the Financial Times and New York Times are encouraging readers to take out a digital subscription by raising the price of their print editions.

Journalism.co.uk’s next news:rewired event will feature a panel debate on paid-content models. See the agenda, list of speakers and list of delegates. Tickets are £130+VAT and can been booked using the ticket page. There are just a handful of tickets left so book now to avoid disappointment.

You can hear all our podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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Company finance search tool Duedil receives further funding

Duedil, which describes itself as the world’s largest database of free company financials, has just finalised a second round of investment from Jonty Hurwitz, the founding CTO of loans firm Wonga.

Duedil is a free tool that all journalists should take a look at, as it provides a hugely valuable way to search for information on company finance, directorships and more.

Duedil’s database lists every company and director in the UK and Ireland allowing anyone to access the information for free.

It has recently added new features including alerting you to which of your LinkedIn contacts may be able to provide information on that company.

In a release, Duedil said it “has ambitious plans to revolutionise the way business information is accessed and used”.

Angel investor Hurwitz, who is investing an undisclosed sum and has a minority stake in Duedil, “has built a team and technology platform that have radically altered the short-term finance market,” the release states.

Founded in 2007 with Errol Damelin, Wonga turned over £74 million in 2009, and is growing every year.

The release states:

With an eye for the next big thing, Hurwitz sees the vast potential for business growth in big data analytics. He will bring both his technical and strategic expertise to Duedil, which he hopes will develop into the premier source of business information in the world.

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#news2011: ProPublica model ‘not feasible’ as commercial venture, says editor-in-chief

November 29th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Events, Investigative journalism

A commercial version of ProPublica is not “feasible at present”, its editor-in-chief told the Global Editors Network news summit today.

The US investigative news site, which relies on funding from philanthropic donations, was launched in 2008.

Giving a keynote speech to the event in Hong Kong via video-link Pro-Publica’s Paul Steiger, a former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, said he did not think a commercial organisation would be able to do as ProPublica does and “concentrate on doing nothing but investigative reporting”.

“It is possible that news organisations can have investigative reporting as part of the menu of reporting”, but not to the same extent.

The industry has gone from a high profit margin business model to one with much tighter margins.

As a result news organisations are “much less able to take the risk of sending reporters out on a project that might not produce a viable story,” he said.

I don’t think it is impossible at to make it happen in places outside of the US though. It just requires energy and ingenuity.

Click here for more on ProPublica and how it is funded.

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