February 16, 2020

Media Decoder Blog: Times Communications Executive Is Leaving

Robert Christie, senior vice president of corporate communications for The New York Times Company, is leaving the company and his position is being eliminated, The Times announced Wednesday.

In a memo to the staff Mark Thompson, the company’s chief executive, credited Mr. Christie with building up the Times’s communications team, one he said would “continue to serve The New York Times Company after Bob leaves.” He added that Eileen Murphy, vice president of corporate communications, will now lead the department.

“Bob’s extensive experience and broad range of contacts in the industry have been very valuable over the past three years,” Mr. Thompson wrote.

Mr. Christie, who joined The Times from The Wall Street Journal in 2010, is part of a series of layoffs and buyouts that have been taking place at the company in recent months. In December, Scott Heekin-Canedy, another senior executive, retired, and the company said it would eliminate his position. In December, The Times started to offer buyout packages to 30 members of the newsroom who do not belong to the Guild. Employees volunteering to take these buyouts must accept them by next week.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/times-communications-executive-is-leaving/?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Media Equation: For Legacy Media Companies, a Lucrative Year

Eventually we may be right — the sky will fall and the business will collapse — but for the time being, the sky over traditional media is blue and it’s raining green.

In the last year, the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was up 13.4 percent, which was a significant advance, but legacy media giants like Comcast, News Corporation and Time Warner absolutely surpassed it in terms of share price.

Viacom, which has had serious ratings trouble with MTV and Nickelodeon, still managed to be up 16.1 percent on the year. We keep hearing how traditional networks are getting clobbered, but Viacom’s sibling, CBS, was up a whopping 40.2 percent.

News Corporation, despite being racked by scandal, was up 43 percent, and fellow global media conglomerates like Disney and Time Warner were up more than 32 percent. And Comcast, which has both the pipes and programming — cable and NBCUniversal — soared 57.6 percent.

(Pure cable and satellite providers like Time Warner Cable, Charter, Dish and DirecTV also did very well overall, with an average improvement in stock price of more than 40 percent.)

What is making these dinosaurs dance? I called some media analysts and a few things quickly became apparent. To begin with, the companies collectively did not make dumb choices — consider the past acquisitions of AOL and The Wall Street Journal — and they made plenty of smart moves, including long-term deals that locked up content and a steady stream of fees.

“The era of the media mogul is over, or at least on a very significant hiatus,” said David Bank, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, suggesting that companies would no longer get bigger for the sake of scale and nonexistent synergies. He added that most of the big media companies are, in one way or another, cable content companies with lots of leverage in negotiations when it comes to distribution.

Probably more important, instead of spending billions on new properties, they paid out dividends and financed stock buybacks. And in the case of News Corporation, the company was split in a way that quarantined newspapers and pleased investors mightily.

“The big change in the industry is that they are returning capital to shareholders,” said Jessica Reif Cohen, a media analyst at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. “Balance sheets are stronger than they have been and the free cash flow is being returned to the investor. But it’s more than that. Disney, Comcast, News Corporation, they have all executed strategically as well.”

And the worries about insurgent threats from tech-oriented players like Netflix, Amazon and Apple turned out to be overstated. Those digital enterprises were supposed to be trouncing media companies; not only is that not happening, but they are writing checks to buy content. New players have opened windows to sell content without cannibalizing the retransmission and affiliate fees that have turned into a gold mine for media companies.

(Writing for Deadline Hollywood, David Lieberman pointed out that cranky old media far outperformed a sexy technology group composed of Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. Take that, digital overlords!)

“As it turns out, the traditional television business is far stickier than people thought, and audience behavior is not changing as rapidly as people thought it might,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research. “Yes, television viewing went down in 2012 for the first time, but people are still watching five hours a day. YouTube is growing, but people are watching eight minutes a day. They are where cable was in 1980.” But he added that it would not take YouTube and the Internet 30 years to overtake television.

Another thing about those dinosaurs is that they aren’t really old media in the sense of, um, newspapers. When their content is digitized, it is generally monetized, not aggregated. Having learned from what happened in music and print publishing, entertainment companies, built on the still enormous riches of television, have carved their own digital route to consumers. Being big helps, because they can afford to make very large bets, as News Corporation has been recently in securing rights to sports programming all over the globe.

E-mail: carr@nytimes.com;

Twitter: @carr2n

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/business/media/for-legacy-media-companies-a-lucrative-year.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: S.E.C. Ends Scrutiny of Former Top Aide to Buffett

David Sokol was once chairman of MidAmerican Holdings, a part of Berkshire Hathaway.Lucas Jackson/ReutersDavid Sokol was once chairman of MidAmerican Holdings, a part of Berkshire Hathaway.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has decided not to file insider trading charges against David L. Sokol, a onetime top lieutenant at Berkshire Hathaway, Mr. Sokol’s lawyer said Thursday.

Mr. Sokol came under scrutiny in 2011 after abruptly resigning as chairman of Berkshire’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings, one of the many holdings of the investment conglomerate run by the billionaire Warren E. Buffett. At the time, Berkshire revealed that Mr. Sokol bought shares in Lubrizol, a maker of lubricants that he wanted Mr. Buffett to buy. Mr. Sokol bought the shares about two months before Berkshire announced a $9 billion acquisition of the company. After the deal was announced, the value of his Lubrizol stake rose by $3 million.

But Mr. Sokol’s lawyer, Barry Wm. Levine, said that the S.E.C. informed his client on Thursday that it had completed its inquiry and decided not to pursue a civil enforcement action.

Mr. Levine said he was happy that his client was “exonerated” and that Mr. Sokol never acted improperly in the trades. “He is the paragon of rectitude,” said Mr. Levine, a partner at the law firm Dickstein Shapiro in Washington.

John Nester, a spokesman for the S.E.C., declined to comment on Thursday. The agency typically does not comment when it decides not to pursue action in such cases. The news was first reported online by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Sokol’s resignation in 2011 was a rare black eye for Berkshire. A star manager, Mr. Sokol had run several Berkshire subsidiaries, including MidAmerican Energy and NetJets, which sells fractional ownerships of private jets. He was long considered to be a leading candidate to succeed Mr. Buffett, 82.

Mr. Sokol, now 56, had also become a crucial player in the conglomerate’s frequent deal-making, earning the nickname “Mr. Fix-it.” He served as a point man for Mr. Buffett on a number of potential transactions, particularly during the financial crisis.

His sudden resignation caught Berkshire by surprise. Mr. Buffett said he did not ask for Mr. Sokol’s resignation, suggesting at the time that it was a personal decision by Mr. Sokol.

Mr. Buffett initially defended his protégé’s trading. “Neither Dave nor I feel his Lubrizol purchases were in any way unlawful,” Mr. Buffett said at the time.

But additional information surfaced after the Berkshire board investigated Mr. Sokol’s trading record. Berkshire directors ultimately accused Mr. Sokol of misleading the company about his personal stake in Lubrizol.

Mr. Sokol bought $10 million worth of stock in Lubrizol shortly before bringing the company to Mr. Buffett’s attention, according to the board. While Mr. Sokol made a “passing remark” to Mr. Buffett about his trading, the board said that Mr. Sokol did not tell Mr. Buffett that he had bought his stake in Lubrizol after Citigroup bankers had pitched the company as a potential takeover target. He also bought some of the shares, according to the Berkshire directors, after learning that Lubrizol might entertain a takeover offer.

“His misleadingly incomplete disclosures to Berkshire Hathaway senior management concerning those purchases violated the duty of candor he owed the company,” the board’s report in 2011 says. It adds that Mr. Sokol may have failed his fiduciary duty under the law of Delaware, where Berkshire is incorporated.

At the time, Mr. Levine said that Mr. Sokol was considering a personal investment in Lubrizol since summer 2010, before meeting with bankers to discuss the company as a potential takeover target.

Still, Mr. Buffett said the trades violated company trading policy and called Mr. Sokol’s actions “inexplicable and inexcusable.”

He also provided testimony to S.E.C. investigators. Meanwhile, Berkshire continued to pay Mr. Sokol’s legal bills. Last spring, Mr. Buffett claimed those bills reached nearly $200,000 a month.

Mr. Buffett could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday night.

But later in 2012, S.E.C. lawyers decided that there was insufficient evidence to mount a case against Mr. Sokol. The evidence was circumstantial, S.E.C. officials concluded, and it was unclear whether Mr. Sokol had a true window into the Lubrizol deal-making process. He also had no indication at the time of his stock trades that Mr. Buffett would be interested in acquiring the company.

Since resigning from Berkshire, Mr. Sokol has been managing his own portfolio, Mr. Levine said.

Pradnya Joshi contributed reporting.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 4, 2013

A summary with an earlier version of this post misspelled the surname of the billionaire investor. He is Warren E. Buffett, not Bufett.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/s-e-c-ends-scrutiny-of-former-top-aide-to-buffett/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Common Sense: Influence of Money Market Funds Ended Overhaul

But after four years of studies, hearings and round tables, the Securities and Exchange Commission late last month abandoned efforts to impose new regulations on money market funds intended to prevent another panic like the one that occurred in 2008 and eliminate the need for a taxpayer bailout of the multitrillion-dollar funds.

The S.E.C.’s proposed changes had the backing of the White House, Treasury officials, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, a council of academic experts, The Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial page, the former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, the former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. — just about every disinterested party who weighed in on the issue.

So it’s no wonder many S.E.C. staff members were shocked when three of the five S.E.C. commissioners — two Republicans and one Democrat — indicated they wouldn’t support the proposals. It was a rare case of a Democratic commissioner breaking ranks with the agency’s chairwoman, Mary L. Schapiro, an Obama appointee who is a political independent.

“I’m not the crusading type,” a frustrated Ms. Schapiro told me. “This isn’t based on conjecture. We know what can go wrong. We saw what happened with the Reserve Fund in 2008. There was a broad run on money market funds; credit markets froze. People didn’t have access to their money, which was extraordinary. We’re trying to prevent that. And if you’re opposed to government bailouts, you have to support these reforms.”

So what accounts for the collapse?

Though Republicans in Congress have generally sided with the mutual fund industry, and the reforms emerged from a Democratic administration, several people I spoke to said it was a mistake to view the outcome through the prism of partisan politics. “It’s not Republicans versus Democrats,” a person involved in formulating the proposals told me. “It’s the mutual fund industry and its allies versus the American taxpayer.”

For many in the mutual fund industry, 2008 seems both a distant memory and the equivalent of a 100-year flood, something unlikely to be repeated. But just four years ago, on Sept. 16, 2008, shortly after Lehman Brothers collapsed, the Reserve Fund, the nation’s oldest money market fund, “broke the buck” and set off a run on the global money fund industry.

Money market funds — convenient, higher-yielding and supposedly ultrasafe alternatives to deposits at banks — are a mainstay of the mutual fund industry, offered by all the major fund families. They typically invest in short-term, low-risk assets (like United States Treasuries and highly rated commercial paper), and with the blessing of regulators, each day they report a stable net asset value of $1 a share. That’s convenient for tax purposes (there are never any reportable gains or losses), and it promotes the idea that these funds are risk-free because the reported value never fluctuates.

In reality, this has always been an illusion, or what Ms. Schapiro calls a “fiction.” Even short-term assets may fluctuate as interest rates change, even if the moves are very small. And they can also fluctuate because of credit risks. That’s what happened to the Reserve Fund: it owned $785 million in Lehman Brothers’ commercial paper. When the value of Lehman Brothers debt collapsed, there was no way the Reserve Fund could claim that its shares were worth $1, even using generous rounding and averaging tactics to mask shifts in value. When the Reserve Fund admitted its shares weren’t worth $1, investors panicked and began a run on the fund. The Reserve Fund froze its assets and no one could get their money out, even though the actual net asset value was only a few cents less than $1.

The run quickly spread to other money market funds. Funds were frantically trying to unload commercial paper and other assets to raise cash. Major corporations that rely on commercial paper to cover day-to-day operations found themselves unable to issue new securities as the market teetered on collapse. Secretary Paulson fielded phone calls from chief executives alarmed that they might be unable to meet their payrolls. The run on the Reserve Fund and other money market funds took the financial crisis straight from Wall Street to Main Street.

I remember that week vividly because I relied on a money market fund for cash. When I needed some, I went to an A.T.M. and tapped in my access code. I didn’t even have a conventional bank account and prided myself on my modern approach — until I woke up the morning after the Reserve announcement to face the prospect that I might not have access to any of my money. In the many years I’d been relying on my money market account, such a calamity had never crossed my mind. Those old-fashioned government-insured bank accounts suddenly looked appealing.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 25, 2012

The Common Sense column on Sept. 8, about the collapse of efforts by the Securities and Exchange Commission to impose new regulations on money market funds, misstated the interest rate on Vanguard’s Prime money market fund. It is 0.04 percent, not 0.4 percent.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/08/business/sorting-out-the-collapse-of-new-rules-for-money-market-funds.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: The Breakfast Meeting: YouTube Turns More TV-Like, and Scrutiny for Netflix Over Facebook Post

YouTube began introducing a redesigned Web site on Thursday that even more resembles television by prominently highlighting its “channels,” Claire Cain Miller writes, that is, series of videos by the same creator, whether a friend, a celebrity, or a professional producer like ESPN or PBS. With the redesign, every time you visit YouTube on any device, you will see the latest videos from the channels to which you subscribe. The goal, she writes, is to make YouTube a destination for entertainment, rather than someplace you visit when you receive a link or search for a certain video.

The Washington Post reported that it would probably start charging online readers for access to newspapers articles, probably by the middle of next year. The plan would be similar to the model used by The New York Times, in that readers would only be blocked once they had surpassed a certain number of articles or multimedia features a month. Home subscribers to the print edition would have unfettered access to The Post’s Web site and other digital products. The Post credited a report by The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering taking action against Netflix and its chief executive, Reed Hastings, the company disclosed on Thursday, over a brief post he made to Facebook in July about a corporate milestone — one billion hours of video that subscribers watched the month before. The agency, in a so-called Wells notice, warned that it might file civil claims or seek a cease-and-desist order, Michael de la Merced reported.

  • The idea behind notice is to ensure that a company announces information that is material to its business to all investors at the same time; typically, a company uses a news release to share such information. Mr. Hastings’s main defense will probably be that the age of social media has redefined the concept of public disclosure, Mr. de la Merced writes. His Facebook feed is public, and the information reached his 200,000 followers, and then soon the news media.

Robert Lescher, who epitomized the courtly, largely invisible ideal of an Old World author’s agent, died on Nov. 28 at 83, Paul Vitello reports. Among his clients were Robert Frost, Alice B. Toklas and Isaac Bashevis Singer. When, after long representing himself, Mr. Singer asked Mr. Lescher to be his agent, according to Al Silverman in “The Time of Their Lives: The Golden Age of Great American Book Publishers” (2008), Mr. Lescher asked him why he thought he needed an agent: “You know, in the old days, when I wanted to reach Mr. Straus,” Mr. Singer said, referring to Roger Straus of Farrar, Straus Giroux, “I’d call him and he took my call. Now, I call and the secretary says, ‘He’s on the phone with Mr. Solzhenitsyn.’ ”


Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/the-breakfast-meeting-youtube-turns-more-tv-like-and-scrutiny-for-netflix-over-facebook-post/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Robert Thomson to Be Chief of News Corporation’s New Publishing Company

2:53 p.m. | Updated

Robert Thomson, the top editor at The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones and a confidante of News Corporation’s chairman and chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, is expected to be named chief executive of the media conglomerate’s newly spun-off publishing company.

Mr. Thomson will run the separate, publicly traded company, which will include The Journal, The New York Post, HarperCollins and a suite of lucrative television assets in Australia. The announcement is expected as early as Monday, according to a person briefed on the company’s decision-making.

Mr. Thomson took over at The Journal in 2008, soon after News Corporation completed its $5.6 billion acquisition of Dow Jones. He serves as managing editor of The Journal and editor in chief of Dow Jones, which also publishes Barron’s and the Dow Jones Newswires.

Gerard Baker, a deputy managing editor at the Journal, will take over for Mr. Thomson at The Journal, said the person briefed on the decisions, who could not discuss private conversations publicly.

At The Journal, Mr. Baker has overseen Washington and political coverage, among other topics. He previously wrote a neoconservative column for The Times of London, also owned by News Corporation, and served as Washington bureau chief at The Financial Times, where Mr. Thomson was the top editor of the United States edition.

Mr. Thomson began his career at News Corporation in 1979 as a reporter at The Herald in Melbourne, Australia. He and Mr. Murdoch are both Australian, and have taken family vacations together. Mr. Murdoch is often seen in Mr. Thomson’s office in the Journal newsroom.

In his tenure at The Journal, Mr. Thomson increased circulation by broadening the newspaper’s focus beyond business to include more general-interest and lifestyle news. He oversaw an expansion of the newsroom budget, added photographs to go along with the paper’s signature dot drawings and introduced a local New York section.

Mr. Murdoch will serve as chairman of the publishing company and remain chief executive of the entertainment company, which will include News Corporation’s movie studio, Fox Broadcasting and cable channels like FX and Fox News.

News Corporation plans to complete its split, which was announced in June, in mid-2013. Additional announcements about the publishing company’s board and cash structure are expected before the end of the year.

A News Corporation spokeswoman declined to comment. Reuters was the first to report on the expected appointments.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/robert-thomson-to-be-chief-of-news-corporation%E2%80%99s-new-publishing-company/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Baxter International Said to Be in Talks to Buy Gambro for $4 Billion

Intravenous solutions made by Baxter International were donated in Haiti.Baxter International, via Business WireIntravenous solutions made by Baxter International were donated in Haiti.

Baxter International is in talks to buy Gambro of Sweden for about $4 billion, people briefed on the matter said on Friday.

A deal for Gambro would help bolster Baxter’s lineup of dialysis products. The Swedish company focuses on equipment that is used in hospitals and other medical facilities. Baxter, which has headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., makes treatments for a number of diseases, including hemophilia, immune disorders and infectious diseases.

Any deal is still at least two weeks away, and the talks may still fall apart, these people cautioned.

Founded in 1964, Gambro has about 7,500 employees and production facilities in nine countries, according to the company’s Web site. It was acquired by two Swedish investment firms, EQT and Investor AB, in 2006 for about $4.7 billion. Last year, Gambro sold its Caridian BCT unit to Terumo of Japan for about $2.6 billion.

A takeover of Gambro would be Baxter’s biggest deal ever. The medical products maker is no stranger to acquisitions, having struck eight in the last two years, according to Standard Poor’s Capital IQ. But its largest deal to date was a roughly $700 million purchase in 1997.

Baxter has plenty of firepower to buy Gambro; it reported $13.9 billion in sales and $2.2 billion in profit last year, and had $3.2 billion in cash as of Sept. 30.

Shares in Baxter rose 4 percent in trading on Friday, to $68.81, after The Wall Street Journal reported news of the talks. At that level, the company is valued at about $37.8 billion.

A Baxter spokeswoman wasn’t immediately available for comment. A representative for Gambro declined to comment.

Mark Scott contributed reporting.

A version of this article appeared in print on 11/24/2012, on page B2 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Baxter Said To Talk With Gambro About a Takeover.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/baxter-international-said-to-be-in-talks-to-buy-gambro-for-4-billion/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: The Cost, in Dollars, of Raising a Child

In an article in the Your Money special section we just published about bulletproofing your finances, I wrote about one big money move that would be awfully beneficial to my bottom line: not having children. For all that we know about how expensive it is to raise a child, however, we don’t know exactly how much it costs.

So I decided to come up with an estimate, rough as it is, for what it would cost my spouse and me to have one child. I figure it would run close to $2 million by the time it was all over. How did I come up with that estimate?

The United States Department of Agriculture Department publishes an annual report on what families spend on their children, so I used that as a basis for some of my calculations and then tailored them to our own finances and geography. In 2007, The Wall Street Journal tried to improve upon the government figures, but some of the expenses they included seem based on the budgets of the truly rich, like furniture from Pottery Barn and bottled water delivery.

Without excessive expenditures, surely people like us could raise a child for more than the $435,030 the government estimates but less than the $776,000, $1 million or $1.6 million guessed at on the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Right?

I had hoped so, but my estimation of what my spouse and I might spend – and, crucially, what we might lose – having a child ended up being more than those estimates.

In order to be as conservative as possible, I stuck with the Agriculture Department’s figures for the cost of food, transit, clothing and miscellaneous expenses (personal care items, entertainment, reading materials) for children in a two-parent household in the urban Northeast with a combined income of over $103,350.

Those costs are higher in New York City, but our earnings are below the average for the category we fall in, and I wanted to be conservative in my calculations. But for housing, health care and child care I changed the numbers to be more specific to where we live. I used the average cost of full-time child care in New York City for the first few years, $12,750 to $16,000, according to the Administration of Child Services, and then reverted to the Agriculture Department numbers for child care and education until age 18.

My health insurance plan would charge us nearly $4,000 more each year for an additional dependent. Co-pays, prescriptions and other therapies could easily cost another $750 each year. At some point, our hypothetical child would probably have braces as we both did, which costs $4,000 out of pocket.

To estimate the cost of housing a child, I subtracted our rent from the rent we would pay to live in our neighborhood in a more suitable space — one with higher security, a more responsive landlord, reliable heat and better stroller-accessibility. Staying in our neighborhood and continuing to rent would keep our other costs in check, especially because of the quality of the public schools here.

Just as our parents paid most of our undergraduate tuition, my husband and I would want to help our child pay for college. To pay for half of the projected tuition at an average-price four-year public university would require we save $5,328 each year from birth to age 18, according to BlackRock’s college savings calculator.

And since we would probably not cut off our child financially once he or she reached the age of majority, I added the cost of the basics (housing, clothing, food, transportation and health care) between age 18 and 25, when the child would no longer be covered under our health insurance. Later in life, when this young adult has children, we will still spend money by supporting our grandchildren at a rate of $8,289 every five years, the average according to a MetLife study of grandparents’ relationships with their grandchildren.

Then there are the losses I would suffer as a working mother: half a year of forgone wages while on maternity leave and earning 73 percent of what men earn instead of 90 percent like nonmothers (or in my case, the equivalent fraction of my current salary) for the remainder of my career, according to a Columbia University study on the motherhood wage gap. This doesn’t include reduced benefits like 401(k) contributions, but it still adds up to over $700,000. The flip side of this equation is what economists call the “fatherhood premium,” which increases a man’s earnings about 4 percent.

Of course these expenditures and losses are not the strict minimum required to raise a child – not by a long shot. But if we were to have a child and do what most other parents do by trying to give this new little life the very best start possible, it would probably cost us $1.8 million including everything I mentioned above.

Then there are other sacrifices to mental health and perhaps fiscal health, too, albeit in ways that are hard to predict. Some of those disadvantages seem readily apparent, like lower marital satisfaction, higher depression rates, plus that “mommy track.”

So did you think about the cost, in dollars, of having a child before you decided to become a parent? Or do you find the whole idea of factoring in it at all to be odd?

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/the-cost-in-dollars-of-raising-a-child/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder: New Editor for a Shrinking Washington Post

Martin Baron, the new editor of The Washington Post.Essdras M Suarez/The Boston Globe Martin Baron, the new editor of The Washington Post.

3:23 p.m. | Updated The Washington Post, facing steep financial challenges and striving to find profitability as readers abandon print newspapers for digital formats, changed its newsroom leadership on Tuesday.

The Post announced that Marcus Brauchli, its executive editor for the last four years, will step aside but remain with the company. Martin Baron, 58, editor of The Boston Globe, will replace Mr. Brauchli effective Jan. 2.

“We are thrilled to have Marty Baron lead The Washington Post’s newsroom,” said Katharine Weymouth, publisher of The Post. “He has a demonstrated record of producing the highest quality journalism, which matches the legacy and expectations of The Post.”

Mr. Brauchli joined the paper in 2008, leaving The Wall Street Journal several months after it was taken over by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Under Mr. Brauchli’s stewardship, The Post won four Pulitzer Prizes.

Mr. Brauchli will stay on as a vice president of The Washington Post Company, working closely with Donald E. Graham, the chairman and chief executive. He will evaluate new media opportunities, The Post’s statement said.

The change in leadership comes at a time when The Post, like many newspapers, has been struggling on many fronts. As Post readers have shifted their reading from print to online, the company has suffered from declining advertising revenue and steady circulation drops in recent years.

Revenue at its newspaper-publishing division dropped by 4 percent, to $137.3 million, in the third quarter, largely because of a decline in advertising. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, The Post’s circulation from Monday through Friday declined to 507,615 in March, compared with 698,116 in 2007. The company has already started laying off staff members in departments, including advertising and the technology team, to stem losses.

The paper also faces fresh competition from online news outlets, like Politico, whose founders include former Washington Post reporters. The Post Company’s news division also can no longer depend on Kaplan, its college and test preparation business, to help offset its losses.

But the company’s larger, industrywide problems have been made worse by internal tension between Mr. Brauchli and Ms. Weymouth, the granddaughter of Katharine Graham, the longtime publisher. Mr. Brauchli was quickly criticized by members of the newsroom, who described him as more distant than his predecessors, like Leonard Downie and Benjamin Bradlee.

Marcus Brauchli, the departing editor of The Post, will remain with the company.Katherine Frey/The Washington Post Marcus Brauchli, the departing editor of The Post, will remain with the company.

The relationship between Ms. Weymouth and Mr. Brauchli chilled as she pushed him to make newsroom cuts he was uncomfortable with, according to people in the newsroom familiar with the discussions.

Ms. Weymouth told journalists at public events this past summer that she wanted to remove Mr. Brauchli, people familiar with those discussions said. But Mr. Graham, her uncle and the company’s chairman, stepped in and advised her to try to work things out, these people said. Mr. Graham praised Mr. Brauchli in an interview last month.

Discussions between Ms. Weymouth and Mr. Brauchli broke down again in recent weeks when Mr. Brauchli brought to her a newsroom budget that incorporated the cuts she asked for; despite that, she rejected it, according to a person in the newsroom familiar with the discussions.

But Ms. Weymouth was more complimentary toward Mr. Brauchli in Tuesday’s announcement. She credited him with developing the paper’s Web operations and said he would be involved with finding “new media opportunities” for the company.

“Please join me in in thanking Marcus for all that he has done for The Post and in congratulating him on his new role with the company,” Ms. Weymouth said in a statement.

Mr. Brauchli, who received a long ovation in the newsroom after the 11:45 a.m. announcement, credited his staff with taking on “the hardest targets in journalism” and for becoming “pioneers in blogs and social media.” Ms. Weymouth declined to answer questions from the staff at the meeting about why the change was made.

Mr. Graham said that he looked forward to having Mr. Brauchli help him with the company’s digital developments. “It is raining start-ups and new-media projects and I’m in up to my neck, and Marcus and I are going to work on them together,” Mr. Graham said. He did not address the conflicts between his niece, the publisher, and Mr. Brauchli. “It is the publisher’s job to select the editor and I think Marcus Brauchli has been an excellent editor of The Washington Post and I think Marty Baron will be, too.”

Mr. Baron has overseen The Globe since 2001, and during this tenure the paper won six Pulitzer Prizes. Mr. Baron previously was executive editor of The Miami Herald and worked as a senior editor at The New York Times. Earlier in his career, he also worked for The Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Baron said in an interview that he looked forward to running a newspaper “that has had a defining and distinctive role in American journalism.” He said he was realistic about the challenges he would face in running a newspaper during tough financial times for the industry, and said it would be crucial to have a strong relationship with the newspaper’s publisher.

“There isn’t a news organization that isn’t facing significant financial pressures,” he said. “Every editor is having to make tough choices and I would expect to make tough choices. I’ve worked with many different publishers. I worked with three here at The Boston Globe. It’s an important relationship. It’s not always an easy relationship. At times, there can be moments of tension. But we certainly have to share our goals and be compatible and everyone needs to work at that.”

Christopher M. Mayer, the publisher of The Globe, which is owned by The New York Times Company, was informed of the news while he was in London celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary. He said he received the news “with mixed emotions,” describing Mr. Baron as “a staunch advocate of the kind of accountability journalism that digs deep and serves the public, and a fierce advocate of the First Amendment.” He cited Mr. Baron’s leadership of the paper’s investigation into the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.

While the news of Mr. Brauchli’s imminent departure has generated much chatter within the newspaper industry, it has apparently meant little to the readers who still faithfully turn to The Post for information and analysis.

Sean Gibbons, vice president for communications of the centrist research organization Third Way and a former CNN producer, said that while he received most of his election night coverage via Twitter, he made sure to read The Washington Post the day after for the insights of some of its reporters and columnists.

“The Post still holds the advantage of being the sort of grande dame of Washington,” Mr. Gibbons said. “It’s been there. It’s still an institution.”

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/new-top-editor-at-washington-post-brauchli-to-be-replaced-by-marty-baron/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: News Corp. Considers Dividing Itself Into Two

1:29 a.m. | Updated The News Corporation is considering dividing itself into two companies, cleaving its publishing arm from its far larger entertainment division, a person briefed on the matter told DealBook early on Tuesday.

If News Corporation follows through, it would essentially mean splitting off the newspaper business that once formed the heart of the company from the Fox movie studio and television networks that now represent the strongest and most profitable parts of Rupert Murdoch‘s media empire.

Such a split, which may take the form of a corporate spinoff, would create a publishing business that included The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, The New York Post and the HarperCollins book-publishing business.

The Murdoch family would likely retain control of the newly split companies under such a scenario, this person said.

It isn’t yet clear whether Mr. Murdoch will ultimately proceed with the move — something he had rejected in the past — though he has softened his opposition more recently. Should the company settle on this path, it could announce its intentions to pursue a split as soon as this week, the person said.

A News Corporation spokeswoman, Julie Henderson, declined to comment.

News Corporation’s chief operating officer, Chase Carey, said publicly earlier this year that the company’s management team had considered a split. But at the time, he said, no decision had been made.

Such a move would come amid the ongoing investigations into alleged hacking by News Corporation’s British newspapers, a damaging scandal that led to the shuttering of the News of the World and undermined the company’s $12 billion bid for the portion of British Sky Broadcasting that it did not already own.

The fallout from the hacking scandal has grown over the past year to touch upon an array of figures, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr. Murdoch’s son, James, who led the company’s British newspaper operations. The country’s broadcast regulator has been reviewing News Corporation’s status as a “fit and proper” owner of television stations in Britain.

But the person briefed on the matter said that a split was more closely tied to attempts to improve shareholder value. Many restive shareholders have long preferred that the company focus on its more lucrative entertainment assets, which together generated $23.5 billion in revenue in the year ended in June 2011. The publishing business, by contrast, contributed $8.8 billion in revenue.

News Corporation’s shares have risen 20 percent over the past 12 months, but some of that ballast has been supplied by an expensive buyback program. The company’s stock fell 1.4 percent on Monday, to $20.08.

The company’s deliberations were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/news-corp-considers-dividing-itself-into-two/?partner=rss&emc=rss