Five on Friday: Gutting, Growing and Grouping

Featuring Alden, App Annie, Pew Research and Hearst

In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, Alden Global Capital guts 10% of Tribune Publishing staff in just six weeks, App Annie shares highlights from their 2021 state of mobile report, and Pew Research shares their annual state of the news media report. Also, Hearst grows by launching a statewide news platform in Connecticut, CTInsider.com, and LinkedIn posts top subscription jobs for those seeking new opportunities.

Alden Guts 10% of Tribune Staff in Six Weeks

Alden Global Capital, which officially acquired Tribune Publishing in May, is already gutting staff at the newsrooms now under its purview. Consistent with the company’s past behavior of drastically cutting staff and overhead, Alden has reduced the total workforce by at least 10%, reports Rick Edmonds for Poynter. Some of those staffing losses were due to buyout offers accepted by newsroom staff.

Poynter estimates that the Chicago Tribune newsroom staff was reduced from 111 to 87, The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press staff dropped from 46 to 38, and The (Allentown) Morning Call employee count decreased from 32 to 25. At the Chicago Tribune, what was once Tribune Publishing’s flagship property, also offered buyouts to non-union staff. Sixteen non-union staff are also leaving that newspaper. The Baltimore Sun is, so far, holding steady at 54.

Last month we reported on the voluntary buyouts at the Chicago Tribune, including nearly 40 journalists, editors and support staff. At that time, Greg Pratt, a reporter and Chicago Tribune Guild president, said, “We are sad to be losing outstanding journalists at the Chicago Tribune but we respect and honor those who are leaving. It’s important to know that outstanding journalists are going to stick around, too, and we will continue doing vital work for our readers.”

As we said then, the drama never seems to end with Alden Global Capital. They seem to go to great lengths to make a buck, regardless of how their efforts hurt employees, communities who lose good journalists or journalism as an industry. What will they do next?

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App Annie’s State of Mobile 2021 Report: Highlights

Last year was anything but typical, App Annie’s latest “state of mobile” report bears that out. Their executive summary makes that clear in terms of downloads, spending and time spent per user. Here are highlights:

  • New app downloads*: 218 billion, a 7% increase year-over-year
  • App Store spending*: $143 billion, a 20% increase year-over-year
  • On Android phones, daily time spent per user was 4.2 hours, representing 20% growth year-over-year.
  • Mobile ad spending: $240 billion

*iOS, Google Play, and third-party Android store in China

Other highlights from the report include the following:

  • Android users spent a total of 3.5 trillion hours on their phones annually. App Annie said that mobile is the only channel that has this level of reach and depth of engagement.
  • In 2020, the amount of time spent on mobile devices daily (4 hours) surpassed that spent watching live TV (3.7 hours per day).
  • 25% more publishers earned over $2 million per year in the App Store or Google Play
  • Last year, Gen Z’s top apps were Snapchat and Twitch, millennials’ top apps were Discord and LinkedIn, and Gen X and baby boomers favored Ring and Nextdoor.

App Annie’s advise to app creators and publishers: “Focus on your key demographics: Understand the varying demographic opportunities behind mobile categories, countries, and design styles to identify latent demand and key partnership opportunities.

View the full State of Mobile 2021 report at AppAnnie.com.

Pew Research: State of the News Media

Last week, Pew Research Center released its State of the News Media annual report. It is broken down into various segments including newspapers, audio and podcasting, public broadcasting, Hispanic and Black media, digital news, local TV news, cable news and network news. Here are a few highlights from the reports:

  • Since the fourth quarter of 2014, the number of unique visitors to newspaper websites has steadily grown from about 8.2 million to about 13.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.
  • However, the average minutes per visit for that same time period have declined from 2.59 minutes per visit to 1.82 minutes per visit for the top 50 U.S. newspapers by circulation size.
  • From 2011 to 2020, the share of newspaper ad revenue coming from digital advertising has increased from 17% to 39%.
  • Between 2008 and 2020, the percent of Americans ages 12+ who had listened to a podcast in the previous month grew from 9% to 41%, a sizable increase.
  • The average number of weekly unique users who downloaded NPR podcasts grew from 2 million in 2014 to nearly 14 million in 2020.
  • Between 1995 and 2015, the percentage of the TV news workforce for Hispanics increased from 4.2% to 10.8%. For African Americans, the percentage grew from 10.1% to 11.7%.
  • For digital news, the number of employees in digital-native newsrooms has grown from 7.4K employees in 2008 to 13.5K in 2018.
  • Though the numbers are dropping, most people who watch local TV news, watch late night news. In 2016, that was 4.2 million. In 2018, 3.4 million people watched ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox news.
  • People are most likely to watch cable news during prime time (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.). In 2016, the number of TVs tuning into CNN, Fox News or MSNBC was 1.3 million during prime time. In 2018, that number dipped slightly to 1.2 million.
  • The average audience for network TV evening news (ABC, CBS and NBC) was 5.6 million in 2016 and 5.3 million in 2018.
  • Network TV newsmagazine audiences like 20/20, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes and Dateline has dropped from 3.9 million in 2016 to 3.2 million in 2018.

Much of the newspaper data includes 2020 figures, but TV news data is not as up to date. It will be interesting to see if newsmagazines and an interest in TV news went up in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. For the full report, visit Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media report online at Journalism.org.

Hearst Launches Statewide News Platform in Connecticut, CTInsider.com

The Hearst Connecticut Media Group is expanding its news coverage in the state with additional staff and a new website, CTInsider.com. HCMG says that CTInsider.com will include the biggest and best news from across the state including breaking news, investigations, features, business news, sports, politics and trending stories. This expansion grows the HCMG newsroom to 160 staff and the launch of six newsletters which include a morning briefing with top stories across the state and themed newsletters (e.g., food, UConn sports, business, real estate and things to do). This expansion will benefit readers as well as advertisers will have access to a larger audience.

CTInsider.com will use the freemium model, offering both free content and subscriber-only content. HCMG has been experimenting with that model since September 2019. Since then, digital subscriptions have increased 1,103%, along with overall digital and print subscription growth of 18%.

Mike DeLuca, group publisher and president of HCMG, commented on the new site.

“We could not be more excited to announce the expansion and launch of CTinsider.com. Our state is so bustling with news, business, sports, arts and entertainment, and we aim to vibrantly tell those stories and so much more. Our commitment to serving Connecticut and our readers has never been stronger and this is only the beginning,” DeLuca said.

Wendy Metcalfe, vice president of content and editor-in-chief, is excited about the changes.

“We are passionately committed to quality journalism that serves our communities well. Now, we also want to take that adept journalism across the state. We want to tell your stories, drive positive change through robust reporting and keep our readers informed on topics they care about. We have seen huge growth in our current markets which tells us readers value the work our newsrooms are doing — we are immensely grateful for their support and look forward to engaging with new audiences this year as we double down on our commitment to both local news and coverage which has impact across Connecticut,” Metcalfe said.

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