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Lee Enterprises will manage Berkshire Hathaway Newspaper and Digital Operations in 30 Markets

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DAVENPORT, Iowa, June 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Lee Enterprises, Incorporated (NYSE:LEE), has joined with BH Media Group, Inc, in an agreement for Lee to manage Berkshire Hathaway's newspaper and digital operations in 30 markets, beginning July 2, 2018. The agreement provides Lee with flexibility to implement revenue initiatives and business transformation consistent with how it manages its own newspaper and digital operations in 49 markets, while Berkshire Hathaway continues as owner of BH Media.

Warren E. Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said: "I love our newspapers and am passionate about the vital role they serve in our communities. Although the challenges in publishing are clear, I believe we can benefit by joining efforts. Lee Enterprises' growth in digital market share and revenue has outpaced the industry. Lee also has led the industry in overall innovation and performance, all while faithfully fulfilling its public trust as an indispensable source for local news, information and advertising. Our missions and goals match exactly, our markets are similar, and we both have excellent managers. Operating together will strengthen both of us, and Lee is logical to lead the process."

Mary Junck, executive chairman of Lee Enterprises, said, "Berkshire Hathaway has been a significant investor across our capital structures for years, most recently in the $94 million refinancing of our Pulitzer Notes, which we redeemed in 2015, two years ahead of schedule. Our relationship has been positive for both and has become a foundation for us to come together in this agreement."

She added: "This is an attractive strategic alliance for Lee, as it enables us to generate more cash flow, speed our debt reduction, enhance our industry leadership and further advance our abilities as we introduce our digital and print strategies at BH Media properties. Also, we are honored to be trusted by Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway, among the most admired business icons in history. The publishing business is in transition, to be sure, but we remain positive about our future, as many print opportunities remain and digital audiences and revenue continue to grow and flourish."

Kevin D. Mowbray, Lee president and CEO, said the management agreement has an initial term of five years and that Lee will receive an annual fixed fee of $5 million plus a significant percentage of profits over benchmarks. He said the operating framework gives Lee broad latitude to manage, while strategic decisions will be agreed upon jointly. He noted that BH Media will retain editorial control, consistent with Lee's policy of local editorial decision-making.

"In addition to the primary benefit of deploying Lee's successful strategies at BH Media, this alliance provides a significant expansion of operating scale, adding 30 markets to our own 49," he said. "Together, we will have new opportunities across the board, especially in digital sales, advertising customer relationships, shared services and contracts with vendors and suppliers."

In addition to 30 daily newspaper and digital operations, BH Media Group includes 47 paid weekly newspapers with websites and 32 other print products, reinforcing its position as, like Lee, the primary source for local news, information and advertising. Daily newspapers include:

  • ALABAMA: Dothan Eagle, Opelika-Auburn News
  • IOWA: The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs
  • NEBRASKA: Omaha World-Herald, The Grand Island Independent, Scottsbluff Star-Herald, The North Platte Telegraph, Kearney Hub, York News-Times
  • NEW JERSEY: The Press of Atlantic City
  • NORTH CAROLINA: Winston-Salem Journal, Greensboro News & Record, The News Herald in Morganton, The McDowell News, Statesville Record and Landmark, Hickory Daily Record
  • OKLAHOMA: Tulsa World
  • SOUTH CAROLINA: The Florence Morning News
  • TEXAS: The Eagle in Bryan-College Station, Waco Tribune-Herald.
  • VIRGINIA: Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, The Roanoke Times, Bristol Herald Courier, News & Advance in Lynchburg, Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee, The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Culpeper Star-Exponent, The News Virginian in Waynesboro.

The contract excludes management of BH Media television assets, as well as Berkshire Hathaway's separate newspaper, The Buffalo News.

Conference call

Lee has scheduled a conference call and audio webcast for 11:00 a.m. CDT today. The live webcast will be accessible at http://tinyurl.com/Leecall. The webcast also will be available for replay two hours later. Several analysts have been invited to ask questions on the call. Questions from other participants may be submitted by participating in the webcast. The call also may be monitored on a listen-only line by dialing toll free 800-967-7154 and entering a passcode of 583485 at least five minutes before the scheduled beginning. Participants on the listen-only line will not have the opportunity to ask questions.

About Lee Enterprises

Lee Enterprises is based in Davenport, IA, and is a leading provider of local news and information, and a major platform for advertising, with daily newspapers, rapidly growing digital products and nearly 300 weekly and specialty publications serving 49 markets in 21 states. Lee's markets include St. Louis, MO; Lincoln, NE; Madison, WI; Davenport, IA; Billings, MT; Bloomington, IL; and Tucson, AZ.Lee Common Stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LEE. For more information, please visit lee.net.

Forward-looking statements

Certain statements contained in the news release are "forward looking" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and are based on current expectations. Details about risks associated with forward-looking statements are included in recent SEC filings. Lee does not update forward-looking statements.

Contact: Dan Hayes, IR@lee.net, 563-383-2100

Source: Lee Enterprises Inc.

This article appears in: News Headlines

Referenced Stocks: LEE

Chicago Jewish Star newspaper folds after 27 years

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For 27 years, the Chicago Jewish Star showed up every other week on street corners and synagogues from Hyde Park to Highland Park, a plucky family-owned newspaper with ambitions to be a strong voice for the city’s diverse Jewish community.

Next week, its familiar green news boxes will be empty.

With circulation and revenue waning, the free, advertising-supported tabloid quietly folded last week, ending what co-founder Doug Wertheimer called Chicago’s last independent, for-profit Jewish newspaper.

“The advertising dried up,” said Wertheimer, 71. “It became a tighter and tighter operation until it was no longer feasible to continue with any kind of quality product.”

Put together out of his Skokie house, Wertheimer helmed the newspaper from its inception in 1991, serving as publisher and editor. His wife and co-founder, Gila Wertheimer, was associate and literary editor, and more recently, top ad salesperson.

The only other remaining full-time staffer was their son, Aaron Wertheimer, who served as assistant editor and columnist.

The Jewish Star won journalism awards and developed a loyal following. But it couldn’t survive the digital age.

In its heyday, during the mid-1990s, the Jewish Star had a circulation of nearly 25,000, a staff of five salespeople, a roster of freelancers and a robust business model, Doug Wertheimer said. “Like any startup, we did not make money the first few years,” he said. “But after that, we always made money. We always had to make money.”

The paper was not immune, however, to the revenue declines that have hit the newspaper industry in recent years, as digital competition eroded audience and advertising. The Jewish Star cut back the paper from 20 pages to about eight, while staffing was reduced to the immediate family.

“It was just the three of us at the end,” said Doug Wertheimer, a Chicago native who grew up in Hyde Park and Albany Park.

Wertheimer would not disclose exact circulation, but said “it was less” in its final years.

While he saw the writing on the wall, Wertheimer never created an online version of the Jewish Star, a “conscious decision” to stick with the print-only business plan in an increasingly digital media world.

“We put all of our effort into the print paper and tried to run it as economically as we could,” he said. “I did not ever see that the internet would help or save us.”

With the end of the Jewish Star, Chicagoans can still turn to the JUF News, a monthly run by the Jewish Federation of Chicago, and the Chicago Jewish News, a weekly nonprofit, but loyal readers say the publication will be missed.

Charles Bernstein, 76, a retired lawyer and longtime South Side resident, said he picked up his copy of the Chicago Jewish Star at his Hyde Park synagogue.

“I’m going to miss it,” Bernstein said. “It was a little more independent than other newspapers. It was well-written and they take controversial topics and handle them well. It was quite independent.”

The demise of the Jewish Star is an increasingly familiar story. The ranks of the American Jewish Press Association, a not-for-profit group, are down to 51 member publications.

“We have seen a decline in our members,” said Cathy Herring, the association’s executive director. “We have seen some publications close in recent years.”

Wertheimer and his wife, a Canadian whom he met in Israel, launched the original Jewish Star in 1980 in Calgary, where they lived at the time. They brought the paper with them when they moved to Skokie 10 years later.

The new publication came on the scene just as Chicago’s legacy Jewish newspaper, The Sentinel, was nearing the end of an 85-year run. The Sentinel ceased publication in 1997 after the death of its longtime editor and publisher, Jack Fishbein.

The Jewish Star tackled local, national and international issues of interest to the Jewish community, Wertheimer said. It also successfully grappled with the city of Chicago, which tried to remove and relocate its news boxes more than 25 years ago.

In 1994, after years of denials from the city, a Jewish Star staffer caught what was described in the Chicago Tribune at the time as “a beefy Streets and Sanitation worker” using bolt cutters to snap the anchoring cable of a news box at Michigan Avenue and Adams Street. A photo was splashed on Page 1 of the Star’s next edition, and distributed to other media.

The newspaper also enlisted the help of the Illinois Press Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, eventually getting a sit-down with then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. The city agreed to pay the Jewish Star $1,600 for moving and destroying its news boxes, Doug Wertheimer said.

“One of my regrets as a journalist here is that we did not sue the city,” he said. “I wish we would have sued them.”

Penthouse in line for third bankruptcy

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Penthouse Global Media Inc. is undertaking another bankruptcy, the third for the adult entertainment brand. The brand began with Bob Guccione’s Penthouse Magazine in 1965. Chapter 11 papers were filed in California court in mid-January.

Kelly Holland runs the brand’s current, Los Angeles-based owner. Before Holland’s bought it, the brand was owned by FriendFinder Networks Inc. and underwent a bankruptcy in 2013. Another bankruptcy happened in 2003.

The company falsified records and made misleading statements to hide financial losses in recent years, according to a lawsuit filed this week in California Superior Court, Bloomberg reports. Plaintiff Dream Media Corp. claims the company defaulted on loans to ExWorks Capital Fund. Dream Media Corp. now has the loans, and claims Penthouse Global Media owes it more than $10 million. Holland and a lawyer for the company didn’t return calls and emails for comment to Bloomberg.

Holland told the LA Times that Penthouse isn’t trying to compete with free online porn. “We need to offer distinct content that is different from the free stuff out there,” she said.

Japanese turn to digital news

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More Japanese people are reading news on their smartphones or computers than in morning newspapers, a survey by the Japan Press Research Institute and reported by the Japan Times showed. It was the first time for that result.

In a 2008 survey, some 90 percent of the respondents said they read morning newspapers, but that fell to 68.5 percent in this year’s poll.

Print, however, beat the internet in terms of credibility. On a scale of 100, the reliability score for newspapers edged up to 68.7, while that for online sources fell 2.1 points to 51.4.

This year’s survey addressed “fake news” for the first time. About 40 percent of respondents said they knew the term, and the same percent said they consider whether material they read is fake.

Harrisburg-area Sentinel paper to move

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The Sentinel of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, will move to a new building, the Wheelhouse building at the corner of North College Street and B Street in Carlisle, the newspaper announced in early January.

The paper, owned and operated by Lee Enterprises, will relocate to the new place in April at the earlier, according to Sentinel interim Publisher Kim Kamowski.

The Sentinel announced in late 2017 that a deal had been reached for the sale of its current building at 457 E. North St. to pretzel-bread baker Amish Country Bakehouse.

The Sentinel serves the Harrisburg metro area.

Current Newspapers files for Chapter 11

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Current Newspapers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the first week of January, according to court records, Washingtonian magazine reports. The company publishes five weekly community papers around Washington D.C. Davis Kennedy has owned the Current since 1994.

Current owes more than $1.25 million to creditors, including lenders, printers, software vendors, and others. The Wall Street Journal first reported the filing.

In addition to delays in paying vendors, recently there’ve been reports of withheld paychecks, a health-insurance policy lapse and major staff turnover at the troubled publisher. Chris Kain, managing editor for 26 years, resigned in December. Former Prince George’s Sentinel managing editor Shawn McFarland will now head the news staff, the magazine reports.

Two printers, Gannett and Bartash Print Media, are suing Current, and the paper reportedly owes $60,000 to another printer, Maryland-based APG of Chesapeake.

Herald salaries made public in bankruptcy filing

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The salaries of Patrick J. Purcell, publisher of the Boston Herald, and other officials at the paper were listed as part of the Boston Herald's Chapter 11 filing, the paper reports

Purcell got $970,092 in the year before the Herald filed for bankruptcy in December 2017. Purcell also received membership to a golf club and clearance to use a company vehicle.

“I continued to pay myself what I was earning previously at News Corp.,” Purcell told the paper. “I took some raises, same as everyone else. When there were no raises, I took no raises.”

Finance and operations executive Jeff Magram received $652,904 over the same time, the filing says. Purcell said Magram’s pay was gauged given “the outstanding job he did in negotiating various contracts.”

Purcell’s daughter, Herald advertising executive Kathleen Rush, got $155,320 in the year before the filing, including a monthly $1,100 “cash auto allowance.” Purcell daughter Kerry Stanton, a Herald food writer, got $68,009. Erin Purcell Gallo, another Purcell daughters, was paid $41,992. Purcell’s son, Patrick J. Purcell Jr., was paid biweekly amounts of $160 for the six months prior to the bankruptcy.

The company owes $31 million. Among other debts, it owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid payments to its employee pension plans, the paper said.

In December, Purcell said the company had an agreement from GateHouse to buy the paper in a court-run auction that’s expected to drop the paper’s pension and severance obligations.

The auction has been set for Feb. 13.

Denver Post adds paywall

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The Denver Post is asking its readers to support local journalism. Starting Jan, 15, any online reader who hits a per-month threshold will be asked to buy a digital subscription, writes Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett.

The cost of a digital subscription will be $11.99 a month for those with no subscription.

The move comes amid other changes at the paper. In January, the Post newsroom is moving out of its building at 101 W. Colfax, across from Civic Center at the top of the 16th Street Mall. Most of the newsroom will work from the paper’s printing plant in Adams County.

Parent company Digital First Media will stay in the well-known building on Colfax. The paper’s editorial board, city hall reporter, politics team and others will be next door in the Petroleum Building.

Newsday may change printing, distribution

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Long Island-based Newsday is reportedly negotiating with The New York Times to use the Times's printing plant and have Times transport carry Newsday to Long Island, the Long Island Press reports

The move could mean layoffs of 100 or so of Newsday's unionized employees, according to the Long Island Press. Union contracts expired on Dec. 31 and negotiations resulted in a tentative deal in January.

The paper may relocate from its longtime Melville office, on Long Island, the Long Island Press says.

"We are in the early stages of conversations with the union leadership about exploring possible changes to our business," says Newsday spokeswoman Kim Grabina-Como, told the Long Island Press, without providing details. Newsday is the sixth largest newspaper in the nation, according to Agility PR Daily print circulation has fallen to less than 175,000, according to the latest Alliance for Audited Media report.

McClatchy adds regional editors

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McClatchy has made changes in the company’s leadership structure, Poynter reports.

Starting in the Carolinas and California, McClatchy is adding two regional editor positions to help newsrooms reshape as a group rather than individually. McClatchy will add regional editors as the year goes on. 

Robyn Tomlin, managing editor at the Dallas Morning News, will be the regional editor for the Carolinas. Lauren Gustus, executive editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, will be the regional editor for McClatchy’s newsrooms in California and Boise, Idaho. 

John Drescher, executive editor of the News and Observer, will be Opinion and Solutions Editor in Raleigh. Sacramento Bee executive editor Joyce Terhaar is departing the company.

“Our current system, with each newsroom operating separately from the others, discourages cooperation in favor of competition and duplication,” the company said, according to the News and Observer. “By working together, we will marshal all the resources and talents and expertise from each region, and across the company, to produce local journalism that is ever more essential to the communities we serve.”

Like many in the industry, McClatchy’s 30 local newsrooms saw cuts last year and have struggled to turn profits.

Meanwhile, a few other job moves at McClatchy: Modesto Bee editor Joe Kieta will become the editor of the Fresno Bee. Colleen McCain Nelson, the Kansas City Star’s editorial page editor, will become McClatchy’s opinion editor. 

Florida Times-Union to cut staff

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The Florida Times-Union will cut its non-production workforce by about 10 percent, or around two dozen, the paper reported.

The cuts will include advertising, circulation, newsroom, accounting and administration.

Many of the have disappeared through attrition or transfer, Mark Nusbaum, president of the Times-Union, told the paper.

In December, the paper announced the cutting of more than 50 production positions, as its outsourced its printing and production to Gainesville and Daytona Beach, starting Feb. 12.

“The combined reductions are in response to declining print revenues, particularly from major and national retailers, that have plagued the newspaper industry throughout the country,’’ said Nusbaum. “The Times-Union’s digital revenues have been increasing in recent years, but unfortunately, not fast enough to yet offset the print decreases.

The Times-Union was bought by GateHouse Media in fall 2017, with 10 other dailies the Morris Publishing Group owned.

LA Times newsroom votes for union

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Employees in the LA Times newsroom have voted to form a union. The National Labor Relations Board counted the ballots; the final vote count, according to the union, was 248-44.

“For the first time since the Los Angeles Times printed its inaugural edition in 1881, our journalists have voted to form a union,” organizers said in a statement. “We’ve long been a proud voice for our readers. Finally, we can be a proud voice for ourselves.”

Tronc, which owns the paper, opposed the move.

“We respect the outcome of the election and look forward to productive conversations with union leadership as we move forward,” a Tronc statement said. “We remain committed to ensuring that the Los Angeles Times is a leading source for news and information and to producing the award-winning journalism our readers rely on.” 

The paper has been roiled recently by management turmoil, including NPR’s playing of audio recordings of Editor-in-Chief Lewis D’Vorkin criticizing an employee for giving audio of a meeting to The New York Times and an NPR story that included allegations of “frat house” behavior by Publisher and CEO Ross Levinsohn.

Financial Times offers students free access

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The Financial Times, in partnership with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, has extended its free access to FT.com for all 16-19 year old school students globally. Individual schools can register at ft.com/intlschools

The project is designed to help supplement classroom study and better prepare students for college and work, according to the paper. In addition to being able to read content on ft.com, students will get a weekly curated email with content that is relevant to their school curriculum. “We are thrilled to be in a position to offer free FT journalism to students around the world,” said Caspar de Bono, the FT’s B2B managing director. “We hope to emulate the success of the UK schools initiative which has resulted in over 1,400 secondary schools and colleges and over 13,000 students gaining free access to FT content.”

Wisconsin paper to move printing

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Printing at Post-Crescent Media in Appleton, Wisconsin, will move to a regional facility in Milwaukee owned by parent company Gannett, the paper reported.

The move is expected to take place in spring and will affect some 140 employees in Appleton.

“The decision was made to create operational efficiencies within Gannett,” said Chris Stegman, President of USA Today Network-Wisconsin. “Consolidating our Appleton printing operations into Milwaukee enables us to fully use the resources of Milwaukee’s Burnham Facility and its state-of-the-art equipment.”

Stegman said the company will help workers apply for other Gannett positions for which they are qualified, including in Milwaukee. Separation packages are available for eligible employees.

Stegman said the move is not likely to meaningfully alter delivery times of products.

Oklahoma paper closes office

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The Sand Springs Leader office was closed permanently on Jan. 22, Tulsa World reported

The Leader will continue to publish a weekly paper and will operate out of the Tulsa World office in downtown Tulsa.

"When BH Media bought the Leader several years ago, they immediately upgraded our equipment, providing us with the tools we needed to be successful," Managing Editor Kirk McCracken told Tulsa World. "I see this as the same thing. We will have so much more technology within our reach and we will be able to focus more on proving great coverage for Sand Springs."

In in 2015, BH Media Group acquired the Leader and six other newspapers from Community Publishers Inc. In the buy, BH Media bought the Broken Arrow Ledger, the Sand Springs Leader, the Coweta American, the Wagoner Tribune, the Owasso Reporter, the Skiatook Journal and the Tulsa Business & Legal News. The Broken Arrow Ledger has stopped printing a paper, but offers content online on the Ledger website, and the Coweta American and the Wagoner Tribune merged to form the Wagoner County American-Tribune.

Minnesota paper launching new website

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The Belle Plaine Herald (Minnesota) website is moving to an enhanced design to be compatible with all browser software and devices, the paper said. The site will incorporate new features and subscription-based access.

The new site uses the TownNews digital publishing and BLOX Content Management System.

"We feel confident the changes being implemented will provide a better user experience," said Dan Townsend, publisher of The Belle Plaine Herald. 

The eEdition of the Belle Plaine Herald will be available to all subscribers, and is optimized for reading on all computers, smartphones and tablets, the paper said.

Byline protest ends at Pittsburgh paper

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Employees of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper have stopped their byline protest, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. The 150 workers withheld their bylines from content in protest of stalled contract negotiations between the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, and the paper's owners, Block Communications of Toledo, Ohio.

On Jan. 28, the Post-Gazette employees ended the four-day byline strike. 

"The byline strike was but one mobilization effort in our arsenal. We are prepared to use others. We hope we don't have to do so," Michael A. Fuoco, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh and a PG enterprise reporter, said in a press release. "We will not — we cannot — approve another concessionary contract offered by a highly profitable parent company." 

All guild members at the paper participated in the protest, Fuoco said. 

In January, the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, contending Block Communications violated labor laws by not paying for a 5 percent rise in health care premiums for 2018. The contract for union members expired March 31.

CNHI launches regional editor system

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Alabama-based publisher CNHI has made change to its news leadership structure, the company says.

Dennis Lyons, editor of the Sunbury Daily Item in Pennsylvania, will add the title of national editor and team up with nine regional editors, who will work with the company's local editors to deliver content.

James Zachary, editor of the Valdosta Daily Times in Georgia, will become the deputy national editor. He will also serve as regional editor for CNHI papers in North Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.

The announcement of the regional editor system was made by Bill Ketter, CNHI's senior vice president for news, and Kayla Castille, CNHI's senior vice president for content and digital operations.

The pair noted CNHI has been working on the structure for the past six months as part of a project to strengthen the quality of print and online content produced by CNHI papers, build a rich multimedia culture and step up digital news growth across the company, the company said. "Great content is key to our future, and this system will help our newsrooms achieve even more success in the digital era," Castille said.

CNHI operates newspapers, websites and specialty publications in more than 110 communities in 23 states. CNHI, owned by Raycom Media, is headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama.

Cision lists top newspaper on Twitter

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The top ten newspapers on Twitter as of January 26, 2018, according to Cision, are The New York Times, with 40,986,005 followers; The Wall Street Journal, with 15,447,462 followers; The Washington Post, with 12,976,647 followers; USA Today, with 3,570,202 followers; the Los Angeles Times, with 3,187,144 followers; the New York Post, with 1,351,520 followers; the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, with 1,017,373 followers; the Chicago Tribune, with 1,017,323 followers; The Boston Globe, with 694,169 followers; and the New York Daily News, with 644,055 followers.

Schumer pushes against newsprint duties

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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) on Jan. 26 urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to reconsider its recent decision to impose duties on the raw material, uncoated groundwood paper from Canada, used by New York's "already at-risk Upstate and local newspaper companies," according to a release from his office. 

Schumer said if the federal government pursues large duties, New York's large and small newspapers, which already operate on tight margins, would suffer, causing workers to lose jobs and diminishing the flow of top-notch journalism to people across Upstate New York. "Declining newspaper demand could, in turn, harm the paper industry, which these duties aim to protect," the release said.

The American Forestry Paper Association, which represents 80 percent of U.S. paper manufacturers, opposes the case, the office pointed out. 

Schumer called on the Commerce Department to "reconsider the impact of these duties on America's paper industry and by extension, newspaper industry, and reconsider their decision that would stave off harmful impacts to an already at-risk, vital American industry."

On Jan. 9, the Department of Commerce assessed preliminary countervailing duties ranging from 6 to 9.9 percent on Canadian imports of groundwood paper, which are currently being collected. Commerce will assess preliminary antidumping duties in early March. The investigations are scheduled to be finalized in July, when the ITC will decide whether there's injury or risk of injury to the domestic industry.

Canadian papers may get government funding

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Canadian newspapers may get help from the federal government, Toronto-based the National Post reports.

The financing will be detailed in the budget that has been delivered in March for the past two years.

It's thought that the Liberals will dedicate more money and change the rules of the Canada Periodical Fund to expand the circle of funding as the industry as the industry seeks footing in the digital era.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the newspaper Le Soleil that he was concerned with the financial situations of media in Canada and that a decision on funding from Ottawa would show up the next budget, the paper reported.

"We've had an indication from the prime minister's mouth and from the minister's mouth that there will be help for newspapers, so both of those are very encouraging," said Bob Cox, chairman of News Media Canada, a trade association representing some 1,000 newspapers in the country.

California group cuts staff

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The Southern California News Group has begun a round of layoffs announced to staff as imminent "involuntary terminations," earlier in January, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

The group, owned by Digital First Media, operates 11 papers, including the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register.

Employees in sports and photography at some papers had been notified of layoffs, according to an SCNG spokesman, the business journal reported. It was not clear who had been laid off or how many employees lost their jobs.

"Like our counterparts in the industry, Southern California News Group is making some difficult but necessary decisions with respect to our newsroom staffing to find efficiencies in how we operate and better position our organization for its digital future," SCNG President and Publisher Ron Hasse said in an e-mail, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.

New York Times tops $1 billion in subscriptions

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The New York Times Company’s subscription revenues passed $1 billion in 2017 due in part to growth in digital subscriptions, the paper reported.

The company reported strong fourth-quarter earnings and revenues that went beyond expectations.

The Times reported an increase of 157,000 digital subscriptions in the fourth quarter. The over $1 billion in subscription revenues were responsible for 60 percent of total revenue in 2017.

Total revenue for the year was up 8 percent, to $1.7 billion. Revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016 was up 10.1 percent, to $484.1 million, topping a Thomson Reuters survey that estimated $467.3 million in revenue.

For the quarter, the New York Times reported a loss of $56.8 million. One-time pension charges and a rejiggering of tax obligations after an overhaul passed by Congress affected the quarter’s numbers. For all of 2017, the company posted a profit of $4.2 million.

Luxury watch magazine to launch in the U.S.

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America’s luxury watch lovers have a new publication to peruse. 

Lifetime Collectible Watch Stories, already available in Europe, will launch in the United States in March.

The magazine is “born out of the desire to have a proper, exclusive, luxurious watch magazine, for connoisseurs and beginners alike,” according to the publication.

Lifetime was created by Raluca Michailov, owner of two Forbes titles in Europe and a watch journalist.

“Everything is written by our editorial team as seen, tried, felt, experienced,” the publication says. “No press releases, no PR texts, just pure content.”

Florida Keys Keynoter and Reporter to end print

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The Keynoter and the Reporter, community papers in the Florida Keys, will stop print publication as of March 25, the Miami Herald reports. The Miami Herald will stop its home delivery to the Florida Keys at that time, also.

McClatchy Company owns the weekly Reporter and twice-weekly Keynoter, which are subsidiaries of the Miami Herald Media Company.

The website flkeysnews.com will still operate, or readers can get Keys news with a digital subscription to the Miami Herald or el Nuevo Herald. In print, the Miami Herald Neighbors South Miami-Dade section will carry expanded coverage of the Keys, the Herald says.

“As a leading media company, we want to be at the forefront in this exciting era of digital delivery, providing readers not only with the most up-to-date news, but also innovative ways of presenting information,” said Alexandra Villoch, McClatchy’s East region publisher.

Lee closing Indiana call centers

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Iowa-based Lee Enterprises is closing its call centers in Munster and Crown Point, Indiana, at the end of March, according to a notice the company sent to the state of Indiana. Some 93 employees will be affected by the move.

Employees affected include customer service representatives, customer service supervisors, call center analysts, and call center operations managers, Lee says.

In a fourth-quarter earnings report released in December, CEO Kevin Mowbray said, A soft print advertising environment contributed to overall revenue declines.”

Fourth quarter total revenue was down 6.8 percent, a performance very close to last quarter and better than the trend from earlier in the year. Total revenue was down 7.1 percent in fiscal year 2017,” he said.

Digital retail advertising, which represented 61 percent of total digital advertising in the September quarter, grew 7.9 percent in the quarter and 9.4 percent for the fiscal year, driven by advertising from local retailers, Lee reported.

Staff shrinks at California’s East Bay Times

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As many as 28 staff members at the East Bay Times (Walnut Creek, California) took buyouts in late January, the East Bay Express reported. The buyouts were offered by parent company Bay Area News Group as layoffs reportedly loom at the paper.

Neil Chase, executive editor of the Bay Area News Group, declined to tell East Bay Express the number of positions being cut, but he said the cuts would represent a “significant reduction in the news staff.”

The Bay Area News Group is owned by Digital First Media, which is owned by the Alden Global hedge fund. In 2017, East Bay Times staff won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Ghost Ship fire.

In 2017, Digital First Media and the Bay Area News Group cut the paper’s staff by 20. In 2016, 11 copy editors left the paper, which covers Contra Costa County, Alameda County, and Oakland.

Washington Post, Lenfest Institute and PMN create tech partnership

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The Washington Post, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and Philadelphia Media Network (PMN) have created a new technology partnership, The Post announced.

Under the agreement, The Post’s Arc Publishing platform, a content-management system, will help power the digital future of Philly.com, which includes all content from the Philadelphia Inquirer and sister newspaper the Philadelphia Daily News. The Philadelphia Media Network publishes both papers and is owned by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, a nonprofit aimed at finding a viable future for quality local news in Philadelphia and across the nation.

“We hope this collaboration will serve as a model for other major metropolitan publishers making the digital-first transformation. We are especially excited to work with those local news enterprises served by Lenfest’s many industry initiatives,” said Scot Gillespie, chief technology officer at The Post.

The Arc engineering team will help PMN transition Philly.com to the Arc platform this spring, with the entire newsroom implementation finished by fall. PMN will serve as a test lab for some of Arc’s newest tools.

The Institute will help pay for PMN’s migration to Arc Publishing and plans to assist other local news organizations in the evaluation and adoption of digital technologies for news.

The Lenfest Institute currently works with metropolitan newspapers in 12 cities through the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative at Temple University, a partnership with The Knight Foundation.

Virginian-Pilot to outsource page design

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The Virginian-Pilot will outsource much of its newsroom print page design to an outside vendor, Pagemasters North America, a subsidiary of The Canadian Press, the paper said.

The Pilot said that it had been pondering the outsourcing to save money.

Local stories will still be edited in The Pilot’s newsroom and the paper’s front page will still be designed in South Hampton Roads for the Wednesday through Sunday papers.

The outsourcing, which begins in the spring, will lead to layoffs for four full-time and two part-time employees in the newsroom, the paper said.

The paper is based in Norfolk and is the largest daily in the state.

Mississippi papers drop Monday print editions

Three Mississippi papers, the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville, the Greenwood Commonwealth in Greenwood, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, are dropping Monday print editions.

Jackson, Mississippi-based Emmerich Newspapers owns the papers.

Fitchburg, Massachusetts, paper closing office

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Massachusetts daily Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise may close its brick-and-mortar office, which is in Fitchburg, the Boston Business Journal reports. Denver-based Digital First Media owns the paper.

The paper is going to a virtual newsroom by the end of this month or sooner. Jim Campanini, editor of the Sentinel and Enterprise and the Lowell Sun, told the Business Journal. Campanini said the paper is not totally shutting down and is aiming to save money with the move. Campanini told the journal that the paper just hired a reporter and two videographers.

Campanini said that the publisher, Kevin Corrado, may look for a smaller space in Fitchburg.

Campanini said reporters are comfortable working and filing outside the office and already do so in some cases. 

These new journalists coming out of college are well-versed,” he said. “They file from home. They don't need to come into the newsroom,” he told the Boston Business Journal.