Monday, September 28, 2009

'Accidental' owners

As newspaper fortunes decline, the banks that financed the ambition of chains like MediaNews will increasingly find themselves the new owners of media properties, said MediaNews CEO Dean Singleton in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune.

"Whether by supervision of the courts or by negotiation to convert some debt to equity, America's banks will own a large position in the newspaper sector going forward. Get used to it."

In a surprisingly candid moment, Singleton also suggested that the eventual denouement of corporate newspaper empires might be the best thing that could happen to the industry.

"Is this all bad? Probably not," Singleton said, predicting the result could be that newspapers are eventually owned once again by people wanting to cover news and shape opinion through editorial pages instead of being publicly owned corporations forced to meet Wall Street's profit expectations.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Breeze Names New Top Editor

Management of the Torrance Daily Breeze announced Friday that Managing Editor Toni Sciacqua has been named to fill the top editor position at the paper. Sciacqua has been filling the top position on an interim position since the departure of former editor and publisher Phillip Sanfield in August.

The announcement was made by new Breeze and Long Beach Press-Telegram publisher Linda Lindus, who joined the MediaNews Group-owned papers last month.

Lindus highlighted Sciacqua "soccer-mom" bonifides in making the announcement, saying that Sciacqua "is from a different constituency than the Breeze's traditional newsroom leaders. Her perspective will allow the Breeze to broaden its coverage, not only in print, but online as well."


Sciacqua is an 11-plus year veteran of the Breeze, moving from copy editor and designer to city editor and then to managing editor. She previously worked on the copy desk of the Press-Telegram.

MNG Decides to Charge Online

Dean Singleton, CEO of MediaNews Group which includes the nine newspapers of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, said Thursday that MNG has decided to start charging for at least some online content on each of the MNG websites.

The comments from the typically media-shy Singleton came in a short interview with the Salt Lake Tribune (another MNG outlet).


In previous statements, Singleton had said that MNG was considering charging for some online 'premium' content.

"We can't continue to give everything away for free," Singleton told the Salt Lake Tribune. "When you give it away for free, it has no value. When you begin charging for it, it has some value."

Singleton said that each MNG paper would most likely move into the future with two sites, one for free that offers breaking news and some user-generated content, and one that charges, populated with what Singleton describes as the "most valuable content" -- sports, hyper-local news, and maybe even entertainment news.

Monday, September 21, 2009

President "happy to look" at nonprofit bill

He's not familiar with the legislation yet, but President Barack Obama told the Toldeo Blade he'd "be happy to look at" bills like the Newspaper Revitalization Act.

"What I hope is that people start understanding if you're getting your newspaper over the Internet, that's not free and there's got to be a way to find a business model that supports that."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Can it work?

According to Alan Mutter, a recent survey shows 51% of newspaper publishers support fee-based online content. 49% are either unsure if the plan will work, or believe it will fail.

Losing faith in the news

Confidence in the accuracy of the media is at a two-decade low, according the the Pew Research Center.

Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate. In the initial survey in this series about the news media's performance in 1985, 55% said news stories were accurate while 34% said they were inaccurate. That percentage had fallen sharply by the late 1990s and has remained low over the last decade.

The impact of diminishing variety in coverage that comes with so many mergers and acquisitions of media properties is never addressed by the study, but many groups like Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting suggest that the two are closely intertwined.