This week Chris Waiting, chief executive of The Conversation UK, tells us about the lessons his team is taking forward from its record-breaking corona coverage, why newsletters and live events are its focus for the near future, and what other news publishers can learn from its policy of marrying journalistic flair with scholarly insight.
In the news roundup the team discusses magazine closures and launches, whether the Taboola/Outbrain merger will improve the internet, and ask whether a punk fanzine by a 10 year old is the beginning of the end for newsstand magazines. See you after the summer break!
- Q magazine announced its closure after 34 years, with the editor blaming the pandemic. “We’ve been a lean operation for all of my tenure…I must apologise profusely for my failure to keep Q afloat.”
- Immediate Media is closing 12 magazines and cutting around 113 jobs thanks to COVID. They said they’d seen ‘impressive growth’ in print subscriptions and digital audiences, but had been significantly negatively impacted by the ad market downturn and falling newsstand sales.
- Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK! magazines have all been axed by Bauer Media Australia, with the new owners Mercury Capital citing a catastrophic drop in advertising revenue due to Covid-19.
- Future Publishing is planning to close six print titles, saying it has been “forced into making difficult decisions” as a drop in retail footfall impacts magazine sales. Kelsey Media’s Boxing Monthly magazine, which launched in 1989, will also end next month.
- Monthly magazines Money Observer and Moneywise will close next month after 40 and 29 years in print respectively
- Future plc has launched three new digital brands; Gardeningetc.com, WhattoWatch.com and FitandWell.com. Brought to market “at speed”, the sites respond to and capitalise on growing consumer interest and niches in the gardening, TV and wellness sectors.
- Vogue is set to launch in Scandinavia in spring 2021, as Scandinavian and Nordic design grows in popularity and influence
- Dennis’ Publishing’s Cycling division has launched a new UK title, Cycling Electric, a new brand for e-bikes and e-mobility
- 10-year-old Arlo Lippiatt’s lockdown project was to create a punk music fanzine. He got interviews with people like Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals, and has sold out of copies of ‘Pint-Sized Punk’.
News in brief:
- It’s not just print that’s feeling the pain… Buzzfeed laid off 50 of the 74 employees who were furloughed in the spring due to losing some custom advertising deals in areas like hospitality and travel, as well as Amazon pausing some affiliate deals
- Troy Young, the president of Hearst Magazines, has resigned after being the subject of a recent NYT expose into alleged lewd comments and other inappropriate behaviour. He’s widely credited with turning Hearst around to be an “aggressive online force”. Debi Chirichella, the division’s chief financial officer, will step in after the departure of Mr. Young
- DMGT’s titles have returned to profit in June after seeing a 45% drop in ad revenue during lockdown. Revenue is still down 30% for the quarter, but online growth, especially to Mail Online, has been strong, up 37% year on year
- Morning Brew newsletter will bring in $20 million in revenue this year. The business has 45 staff and publishes four newsletters in four verticals – general business, retail, emerging tech, marketing and a podcast
- Subscriptions are up for Dennis Publishing, with rates across all titles increasing by 9% overall since the start of the pandemic. The Week Junior in particular has benefitted, with circulation growing 23%, as well as Cyclist magazine which has seen subscriptions grow 39% since January
- Podcast downloads have returned to their pre-Covid levels according to Chartable, who tracked 825 million downloads in June, up from 600 million in March. Even better news: ad spend has kept up, with the market expected to grow 15% this year despite the disruption
- The New York Times is acquiring Serial Productions, the maker of the most popular podcast ever Serial, in its latest move to grow its podcast business (there’s a brilliant explainer on this deal from Nick Quah)
- In utterly shocking news you will not believe, the Taboola/Outbrain merger has been allowed to go ahead after the Justice Department decided not to challenge it on an antitrust basis
- eBay has sold its Classifieds business unit to Adevinta, a Norway-based classified ads publisher majority-owned by Norwegian publisher Schibsted. The deal is valued at $9.2 billion, and includes eBay’s marketplace, payment services, and ticketing
- Over 100 news outlets in the US have scaled back their print editions in the face of the pandemic, moving from daily to weekly or temporarily halting production entirely.
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