The bankers are now hired. Is the early 2019 newspaper chain M&A face-off now getting serious?
It’s reminiscent of an earlier brand of warfare. Newspaper chains — all cutting desperately, each facing a shortening deadline to make a “digital transition” — line up their dealmaking armies, swords sharpened if not yet crossed.
Gannett, having rejected the hostile takeover bid of Alden Global Capital, has decided to hire Goldman Sachs to advise it on the next rounds of dealmaking, I’ve learned. Goldman participated in Thursday’s Gannett/Alden meeting, alongside Greenhill, its ongoing deal-advising firm.
As that meeting happened, Alden, with its bankerMoelis, filed an alternative slate of directors for election at Gannett’s upcoming annual meeting. That action, though, is just another uncertain indicator of whether it’s Alden’s true intent to acquire Gannett, a number of insiders have told me.
As Bloomberg’s Brooke Sutherland summed up well in her lede on
I just gave a talk in Germany where a prominent editor charged me with being a doomsayer. No, I said, I’m an optimist … in the long run. In the meantime, we in media will see doom and death until we are brutally honest with ourselves about what is not working and cannot ever work again. Then we can begin to build anew and grow again. Then we will have cause for optimism.
Late last year in New York, I spoke with a talented journalist laid off from a digital news enterprise. She warned that there would be more blood on the streets and she was right: In January, more than 2,000 people have lost their jobs at news companies old and now new: Gannett, McClatchy, BuzzFeed, Vice, Verizon. She warned that we are still fooling ourselves about broken models and until we come to terms with that, more blood will flow.
At Tuesday's State of the Union, President Trump continued to call for a wall at the southern border. Meanwhile, some Democrats point to the real crisis: climate change. A look at the messaging of urgency and hope around the Green New Deal. And, a former mentor to Mark Zuckerberg lays out his deep criticisms of Facebook. Then, a Facebook employee makes the case for one potential solution. Plus, a new documentary about Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin, two New York City reporters, who helped turn column writing into an art form.
1. Kate Aronoff [@KateAronoff], contributing writer with The Intercept, on how Democrats are selling the urgent need to address climate change. Listen.
2. Roger McNamee [@Moonalice], author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, on the damage that Facebook has done. Listen.
To celebrate Facebook turning one and a half decades old, the New York Times opinion section released a critical video highlighting the platform’s long history of major PR nightmares.
The video, which was edited to look like a typical pre-made Facebook birthday video highlighting one’s interactions with a “friend” on the platform, warned that the continuation of the social media site could lead to more “violence,” “revenge porn,” and “disinformation.”
Happy Birthday, Facebook! 15 years today — and what a rollercoaster it has been. We created a friendship anniversary video for Mark Zuckerberg to mark the day. pic.twitter.com/iDz84LrTeV
Fact-checking website Snopes is withdrawing from a two-year partnership with Facebook, announced the founder David Mikkelson and vice president Vinny Green Friday, citing a desire for “certainty” that using a third-party platform will help better the community.
“At this time we are evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services, and we want to determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff,” the two wrote in a statement published to the website.
In a December piece published by the Guardian, several former Snopes fact checkers mentioned losing trust in Facebook after realizing the platform had no intention of ending abuse of misinformation and propaganda domestically and abroad.
“I strongly believe that they are spreading fake news on behalf of hostile foreign powers and authoritarian governments as part of their business model,” said former Snopes Continue reading "Snopes Ends Fact-Checking Partnership With Facebook After Former Editor Says: They’ve ‘Used Us For Crisis PR’"
Alden’s going to snatch Gannett! No, Gannett’s going to turn the tables and buy Alden’s Digital First Media! But wait, Gannett will reject Alden — is that a real offer? — and turn its attention to merging with Tribune! No, Tribune — having dispatched its CEO Justin Dearborn to clear the way for a deal — will buy Gannett, or accept the kind-of offer from Gannett to buy it, which it rejected last year? But, then, there’s McClatchy in the wings, having been spurned by Tribune at the holidays and now angling for a new deal with Tribune, or Gannett, or maybe someone else!
So go the fortunes of four of the six largest U.S. daily newspaper companies. The journalists’ Twitter is alight with Game of Thrones metaphors, but I think that’s misplaced. The action seems more Bravo-esque. Or, more prosaically, as one newspaper company exec told me Continue reading "Newsonomics: The 2019 newspaper consolidation games continue"
In a year and a half, ProPublica collected 100,000 Facebook ads — and to whom they were targeted — through a browser extension installed by 16,000 volunteers. Its reporters used the tool to report on the targeting strategies of politicians and political groups, misleading tactics, and the fact that Facebook’s ad archive kept missing the very ads it was supposed to openly store — applying similar analysis as, say, its reporting that Facebook allowed discriminatorily targeted housing ads.
Now, Facebook has shut part of that extension down, limiting it to just collect the ad content, not the “Why am I seeing this?” information that we all definitely click on. (Mozilla and Who Targets Me developed similar tools that were also affected.)
Here’s ProPublica’s layout of the situation:
Facebook has made minor tweaks before that broke our tool. But this time, Facebook blocked the ability to automatically
It’s long been public knowledge that Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook, has hardcore New Year’s resolutions. In 2009, he pledged to wear a tie to work everyday. In 2010, he pledged to learn Mandarin.
In 2011, he pledged to only eat the flesh of animals he had slaughtered with his own hands.
Weird flex but OK pal. Reports of unorthodox behavior from Zuckerberg are nothing new. One said he got a hunting license in order to slay a bison for the dinner table.
We now have a first hand account of Zuckerberg’s bloodthirsty resolution. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was asked about his most memorable encounter with the Facebook chief.
“Well, there was a year when he was only eating what he was killing,” Dorsey replied. “He made goat for me for dinner. He killed the goat.”
“He kills it Continue reading "Jack Dorsey Says He Once Ate a Goat That Mark Zuckerberg Personally Slaughtered With a Knife and a ‘Laser Gun’"
What would you put on Facebook’s to-do list?
Well, a group of Oxford and Stanford researchers (Timothy Garton Ash, Robert Gorwa, and Danaë Metaxa) started with nine items, in their report released Thursday via Oxford and Stanford. (No funding for the report came from Facebook, but the company did provide “under the hood” access to them and other academics.) The focus is on ways Facebook could improve itself as a “better forum for free speech and democracy,” which, you know, the platform has had somestruggleswithin the pastfew years.
Part of the report focuses on the amends Facebook has attempted, such as broader transparency with academics and policymakers and introducing content appeal processes, but also points to the impact (and issues) that can arise from self-regulatory actions instead of external policies. (Remember, senators, he sells ads!) “A single small change to Continue reading "Nine steps for how Facebook should embrace meaningful interac— er, accountability"
Facebook announced that it has removed hundreds of pages “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior” as part of a disinformation campaign being run by employees of Russian news outlet Sputnik.
The stunning announcement, made early Thursday, revealed that Facebook has removed 364 pages — boasting 790,000 followers and $135,000 in ad buys between them — that were “part of a network that originated in Russia and operated in the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Central and Eastern European countries.”
The disinformation campaign, Facebook revealed, was “linked to employees of Sputnik, a news agency based in Moscow.”
The pages, which presented as independent news sources, posted frequently about “topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption.”
Sputnik was launched by the Kremlin in 2014 as a digital-first news outlet with a global presence — it’s Buzzfeed for Assad truthers! — and has headquarters in cities from Continue reading "Facebook Deletes Hundreds of Fake News Pages Linked to Russian News Agency Sputnik"
NYU and Princeton professors just released an important study that took a set of fake news domains identified by BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman and others and asked who shares them on Facebook. They found that:
Sharing so-called fake news appears to be rare. “The vast majority of Facebook users in our data” —more than 90 %— “did not share any articles from fake news domains in 2016 at all.”
Most of the sharing is done by old people, not young people. People over 65 shared fake news at a rate seven times higher than young people 18–29. This factor held across controls for education, party affiliation and ideology, sex, race, or income.
It is also true that conservatives — and, interestingly, those calling themselves independent — shared most of the fake news (18.1% of Republicans vs. 3.5% of Democrats), though the researchers caution that the sample of fake news was predominantly pro-Trump.
I’ve been rereading a lot of Marshall McLuhan lately and I’m as confounded as ever by his conception of hot vs. cool media. And so I decided to try to test my thinking by comparing the phenomena of Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at this millennial media wendepunkt, as text and television give way to the net and whatever it becomes. I’ll also try to address the question: Why is @aoc driving the GOP mad?
McLuhan said that text and radio were hot media in that they were high-definition; they monopolized a sense (text the eye, radio the ear); they filled in all the blanks for the reader/listener and required or brooked no real interaction; they created — as we see with newspapers and journalism — a separation of creator from consumer. Television, he said, was a cool medium for it was low-definition across multiple senses, requiring the viewer to interact by filling
Facebook is everywhere– the social media platform tracks your location, knows all your contacts, sees your activity online and even offline, and gathers current and past information on you using your profile, preference settings, and personal images.
You already knew all that… and somehow, you’re okay with it.
But what if you found out the government wants to use Facebook to monitor you and possibly prosecute you for being late on your taxes? You’d probably be a bit rattled.
In response to a FOIA request from private businesses, the Internal Revenue Service said it is looking for a tool to help it check social media feeds, blogs, and websites to find out if people are violating the federal tax code.
“Businesses and individuals increasingly use social media to advertise, promote, and sell products and services,” the FOIA response reads. “But the IRS currently has no formal tool to access this Continue reading "IRS Wants to Use Facebook and Other Social Media Platforms to Track Down Tax Cheaters"
I’d rather like to inveigh against Facebook right now as it would be convenient, given that ever since I raisedmoney for my school from the company, it keeps sinking deeper in a tub of hot, boiling bile in every media story and political pronouncement about its screwups. Last week’s New York Times story about Facebook sharing data with other companies seemed to present a nice opportunity to thus bolster my bona fides. But then not so much.
The most appalling revelation in The Times story was that Facebook “gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.” I was horrified when I read that and was ready to raise the hammer. But then I read Facebook’s response.
Specifically, we made it possible for people to message their friends what music they were listening to in Spotify or watching on Netflix directly from the Spotify
Despite his racist views being well documented at the time, Facebook took money from white nationalist candidate PaulNehlen during his failed ran for Paul Ryan’s vacated seat in Wisconsin, according to a new report from the investigative news site Sludge.
The content Nehlen paid the site to promote included a link to neo-Nazi website run by Christopher Cantwell, the man dubbed “the crying Nazi” for crying in a YouTube apology video he posted after Vice aired a documentary on his actions at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. More disturbing still, Facebook categorized Cantwell as a “hate figure” in August 2017 — amid the Unite the Right fallout — and banned him from their platform, but Nehlen was still able to pay the site to promote content that featured Cantwell’s work.
As for Nehlen, the twice failed House candidate was kicked off Twitter last year for making racist Continue reading "Facebook Reportedly Received Money From White Nationalist Candidate to Promote Neo-Nazi Content"
Amid rising criticism against Facebook for their abuse of users’ data, MSNBC host Kasie Hunt announced that she is deleting her account in protest, calling the platform “bad for your brain” and adding that she doesn’t “trust them any more.”
The Kasie DC host, whose comments came after a New York Times report on Facebook exposing users’ private information to third parties without their consent, posted her deletion statement on her personal account.
“Dear friends, I’m deleting my Facebook account,” she began. “I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time as story after story has been written about how the people who own this platform use the information we voluntarily give them in the pursuit of maintaining friendships and connections.”
The New York Times, which has done some illuminating reporting on Facebook recently, has dropped another stunner––this one focused on just how much personal data the social media giant gave other tech companies access to.
The scope of that access, the Times reveals, is broader than what was previously known:
Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.
The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.