Daily Archives: April 8, 2014

Big news at UAlbany!weed
* “My old college newspaper with an amazing Crime Blotter teaser.” (@ItsFischy)
* Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory has “absolutely no idea” what the future of newspapers will be, and “anyone who tells you they know is either lying to themselves or lying to you.” (
* Women’s Wear Daily reporter David Yi shows off his swag – until Conde Nast bosses start wagging their fingers. (
* New York Times Premier gets one star – if that – from Jack Shafer. (
* Winners of The Shorty Awards – honoring the best in social media – have been named. ( | The Webby Award nominees have been announced. (
* Computer security legend John McAfee: “The most powerful tool a traveler can possess is a Press card. …I have dozens stashed in all my vehicles, in my wallet, in my pockets, in my boats.”
* Wanted: Writers to appear in the documentary “American Blogger.” Requirements: You must be young, attractive and female. (
* FYI: It’s Squirrel Week again at the Washington Post. (@JohnKelly) | Readers love it. (

McClatchy says it wasn’t looking to sell the Anchorage Daily News, but it got an offer from six-year-old and accepted it. The $34 million deal includes the newspaper, and the Daily News building. The Dispatch plans to sell the real estate.

Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay likes it because it’s “simple, declarative, provocative.”

- From Metro, via @jasonwsj

– From Metro, via @jasonwsj

* Now this is how to write a headline (@jasonwsj)
* Morgan Freeman on lemurs and over-population (

In 2012, the company that owned Yellow Pages Yellowbook changed its name to Hibu and retooled its operations. It started a community magazine unit and it grew fast – from 10 titles in fall of 2012 to more than 600 in 20 states by December of 2013. Nearly 200 journalists worked for the operation. (I don’t have a part-time vs. full-time breakdown.)

“The company hired dozens of Patch editors for this start-up effort,” an ex-employee tells me. “They tried to use an existing [Yellow Pages] sales force to sell ads to replace lost revenue from telephone directories that are no longer relevant.”
Another says: “The company’s goal was to have community magazines around the country, sticking with a hyperlocal news focus. …Readership studies [said] that people are interested in print products with an extremely local focus — my street, my school, my friends and neighbors.”

The 32-page full-color magazines were free and mailed to 5,000 of the highest income homes in each community.

Hibu hired mostly former newspaper people and Patch refugees to run the magazine operation — people like Maria Archangelo, a former editor at the Baltimore Sun, Rutland Herald and other publications; Susan Koomar, a former Patch regional editor and Times Shamrock Newspapers staffer; and ex-Keene Sentinel executive editor Tom Kearney, who got the title of senior manager for global editorial quality.

One of the Hibu magazines

One of the Hibu magazines

In early March, when Hibu hired a new CEO, the company’s journalists started getting nervous. One had a friend forward a message to me on March 6 — I was told “they’re afraid of getting caught talking to you” — that said in part: “Our fear is that the plug is about to be pulled on this project, and we want to fight a small rear-guard action.”

If there was any fight, it was unsuccessful.

On Monday, the Hibu community magazines division was closed and employees were fired in a 3 p.m. ET conference call led by Hibu product portfolio veep and former Patch regional director Ryan Cantor.

Email accounts and cell phones would be shut off immediately, Cantor said, and employees would get one month’s severance pay. Update: Journalists at the the main offices in King of Prussia, Pa., are scheduled to work until mid-May on the final two issues. Editors in the field were laid off on Monday. I’m told that 311 people were laid off, including editors, paginators, designers and support staff.

The company released this statement: “To protect the future of the digital business at a time of continuing decline in our directories’ revenue, we have initiated a program of cost efficienies and savings across the company.”

Hibu will now focus on the “still large and important print directory business,” as well as websites and digital directories, according to an email to employees.

I phoned Hibu to get exact layoff numbers and was told someone will call back. Update 2 — Hibu spokesman Andrew Spybey writes in an email: “Re your request for exact layoff numbers, I’m afraid we are not disclosing that detail, aside from via notices where necessary in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.”

* CEO: No clear path to sustainable profitability with Hibu magazines (

You’re going to charge my credit card now for a magazine that expires in December of 2015?! (It was a mistake, says Time.)

“Today my current copy of Time came,” writes Romenesko reader Ken Cady. “It has a cover over the cover informing me that my subscription is being automatically renewed for another three years. Huh? My subscription does not expire until December, 2015, but they want to charge my credit card now for a ‘renewal’ that won’t occur for another 20 months.
“That forces me to front them money well before any reasonable company would ask for it. Are they so broke that they have to resort to this cheap stunt? Maybe you can find out. I doubt they will tell me!”

I found out that it was an error.

Sending out renewal notices 20 months in advance “is not a standard practice,” Time spokesman Daniel Kile explains in an email. “It was nothing more than a systems error that affected a tiny percentage of our subscribers, causing them to receive their auto-renewal letters far too early. Six weeks before the end of a sub is when we usually send them.”

Kile tells me in a follow-up phone call that about 10,000 subscribers out of 3.5 million received the early notice.

“No one was charged, we’ve fixed the technical problem, and the affected subscribers will be receiving a letter from us shortly explaining what happened.”

* Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff (left) may be The Media Mogulbankoff No One Knows – and he’s OK with that. (
* Report: Fox News has the least accurate science coverage, while MSNBC does the best job. (
* New York Times’ Margalit Fox: The obits beat “is perhaps the strangest in American journalism but also one of the very best.” ( | She wrote “the most bad-ass obit ever” in 2012. (
believe* The Times’ David Carr and Dan Barry spoke at a narrative journalism conference in Boston last weekend. What they said: (dankennedy.net0
* Won’t somebody please let Valleywag’s Sam Biddle test-drive a Tesla? (
* Michael Wolff: “I can’t see the Times continuing unless Michael Bloomberg buys it.” ( | (
* Today’s Hartford Courant page one: ( | UConn Daily Campus front page: (@The_DailyCampus)
* Kara Swisher: In its early days, the Internet was treated like a fad by the Wall Street Journal. (
* “My wife tells me I need to read People, so I read People,” says Town & Country editor-in-chief Jay Fielden. (
* SPJ and ONA are revising their ethics codes in very different ways. The latter is doing it right, says Michael Koretzky. (
* Tallahassee Democrat publisher’s pet project gets big play on today’s page one. (Is that the sound of circulation sliding that I hear?) (
* NYT’s standards editor on whom vs. who, cut and dried (not cut and dry) and other matters. (