Meredith’s Acquisition of Time Inc., BuzzFeed Reorg, Surviving the ‘Media Apocalypse,’ Media Metrics, InDesign Tip: Font List Filters

Welcome to Technology for Publishing’s roundup of news, stories of interest, and tips for media industry pros! This week, we’re sharing posts about Meredith’s $2.8 billion Koch-backed deal to buy Time Inc., a reorganization of BuzzFeed’s business and advertising operations, turmoil in the digital media business and how it might all shake out, and more.

  • Time Inc. photoThere was a lot of buzz around Meredith’s announcement that it’s buying Time Inc. in a $2.8 billion deal that includes $650 million of funding from the politically conservative Koch brothers. While the brothers “will have no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations,” according to a statement, a New York Times report laments, “the deal could represent the beginning of the end for one of the country’s most celebrated magazine publishers.” As NBC News reports, cost-cutting plans are already underway. Wall Street, however, saw the move as positive, enabling the combined company to achieve greater scale and efficiencies. Check out Poynter and Adweek for other insights on the sale.
  • In another sign that 2018 promises more media upheaval—or corrections, as some put it—BuzzFeed announced it’s joining the ranks of other publishers undergoing reorgs to diversify their businesses as advertising revenues fall short (read about BuzzFeed’s affiliate commerce efforts in our Nov. 17 This Week in Publishing post). According to The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed is laying off 100 employees and revamping its ad sales and business operations, after earlier this month putting its IPO plans on hold with an expected revenue shortfall of 15% to 20% of its $350 million target. “As our strategy evolves, we need to evolve our organization, too—particularly our business team, which was built to support direct-sold advertising but will need to bring in different, more diverse expertise,” CEO Jonah Peretti told employees.
  • That’s the premise of a Slate article on the current struggles of BuzzFeed and other online media companies. “Online advertising is looking more and more like a contest that publishers can’t win—not on a large scale, at least,” it notes. While many have made the “pivot to video” and other strategies to boost revenue, it isn’t clear what business models will prove successful in the long term. One thing is for sure: Digital outlets “chasing clicks and video views” aren’t likely to weather the turbulence ahead, the author says.
  • For its part, The Atlantic offered “How to Survive the Media Apocalypse,” calling 2017 “a uniquely miserable year in the media business.” As the above Slate article discusses as well, the author credits three factors: too many publishers and not enough ad money; VC-funded media companies having to face the VC music; and, yes, Donald Trump. However, when it comes to the latter, the point is made that while the current administration has rendered the news “ecosystem uninhabitable for advertisers,” publishers on the flip side have seen record growth in subscriptions. Bottom line, the article says, is that VC-backed companies chasing “nonexistent” advertising dollars won’t survive, while those that balance cost and revenue and use today’s unstable news environment to “establish themselves as vital and irreplaceable” will win.

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Image: Poynter

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Posted by: Monica Sambataro

Monica Sambataro is a contributing editor and copyeditor for Technology for Publishing. Her publishing background includes work for leading technology- and business-related magazines and websites.