A recap of headlines from 2017, a year where the president of the United States attacked the media and journalists, where truth itself was up for grabs
The 2017 year is almost over and it looks, despite many predictions, that we might actually survive it. Maybe. But that doesn’t mean that the new year is something we look forward to.
In 2017 the Republicans failed to kill off the ACA, but managed to cripple it by ending the individual mandate. They also passed a deeply unpopular tax bill that slashes taxes on corporations and the wealthy, while giving others a small tax break. But for those who live in states with higher state and local taxes, and where property taxes are higher, the bill is already causing havoc as many homeowners rush to prepay their property taxes, knowing that they will not be able to claim them when they file their 2018 taxes.
In publishing, 2017 will be remembered as the year that Time Inc. and Rodale went away, when newspapers continued to bleed print advertising, and when large numbers of industry professionals lost their jobs. It was, in other words, the beginning of a new dark ages for publishing.
The Year at TNM:
The time between the November election and the January inauguration was the lull. But the new administration got off to an ominous start when Sean Spicer’s first press briefing was a one-sided affair, with the soon to be jettisoned press secretary announcing that the crowds were the largest ever to attend a swearing in… period. Things went downhill from there.
The month also began a trend we saw all year: an big increase in media M&A.
- The deed is done.
- ‘You’re the opposition party’ president’s strategist proclaims; the future of fake news
- Head of IAB, Randall Rothenberg, calls on industry to ‘repair the trust’ to combat ‘fake news’
- Dix Communications newspapers sold to Gatehouse Media
The end of Wenner Media began in earnest this month with word that AMI was in talks to acquire US Weekly. Eventually the majority stake in Rolling Stone itself would be sold off. It was also a month where we lost Steve Buttry, and where Gannett began another round of cutbacks.
- AMI in talks to buy Us Weekly from Wenner? Not confirmed, but staff said to be concerned
- Senator shutdown for reading letter by wife of Martin Luther King; ‘radical’ magazines get their day, according to NY Post
- Four Gannett newspapers in the Southwest announce they will be shrinking their print editions
- US journalist Steve Buttry dies of pancreatic cancer, blogs own obit
- Google beats Apple to a low priced TV streaming service
- The president again calls media ‘the enemy of the people’ in CPAC speech
By the time March of 2017 rolled around, TNM had pretty much concluded that the digital edition was dead. Neither Apple, nor most publishers, nor even the vendors, were willing to work to make a go of it.
It was my belief that the digital edition would be an important part of the digital media’s future because it would allow for lower cost distribution and production, but would only succeed if publishers worked to create ad networks and sold the hell out of them. They did neither.
Apple certainly didn’t help. It killed off the Newsstand, which was flawed but fixable. And vendors arose to try to make a quick buck, and even the legitimate companies like Adobe and MagPlus never supported the industry (or this website) in such a way that would have shown they were serious about serving the needs of publishers.
- Digital magazine newsstand Magvault to close down, citing ‘lack of traction with publishers’
- Time Inc. board weighs first bids from suitors; TRVL app update adds iPhone support
- Bonnier says it has shuttered Popular Photography and American Photo; No new word on deal for Wenner’s Us Weekly
- Two Gannett papers in Louisiana, one in Mississippi, cut print editions down to three days
- DOJ indicts two Russian intelligence officers and two hackers in Yahoo data breach
- FBI confirmation of Trump-Russia investigation is front page news for many editors, but many papers in the South bury story
- MediaLife Magazine to be shuttered; Fox News ratings soar, but more troubles may lay ahead
Just what the new administration had in mind for business regulation became apparent in April as the new FCC chairman began efforts to kill off net neutrality. While Trump’s legislative record is meager, his impact on government agencies has been historic.
- Veteran technology journalist Walt Mossberg announces he will retire in June
- United Airlines has a man beaten up, reputation gets beaten up online; app update provides opportunity for flyers to vent
- Transcontinental Inc. to sell Quebec and Ontario newspapersNorth Korea does not act well to tweet threats; Facebook takes down 30,000 accounts in France
- ‘Nobody’s got to use the Internet’ – Congressman defends end to net neutrality rules at town hall
- Media Odds & Ends: 21st Century Fox confirms Bill O’Reilly exit; Student paper to go glossy
- ESPN layoffs expected to be deep as word begins to leak out
- B&N CEO Leonard Riggio steps down; COO Demos Parneros promoted to CEO
- FCC chairman begins process of killing off ‘net neutrality’ rules
On May 17, Robert Mueller was appointed special council, instructed to look into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The appointment followed the firing of FBI director James Comey on May 9, a firing that the president himself admitted in an interview, was done to try and end the Russia investigation.
- Editors make Nixon references, but how many were in the business at the time; Comey news comes too late for UK papers
- French media handcuffed by last minute election interference as hackers target Macron campaign
- Time Inc. confirms it plans to sell off some magazine titles; Chairman Joe Ripp to retire
- 55% of Americans feel safe from cyber attacks, but majority see Russia as biggest threat
- FCC and the media: Rule changes could dramatically change media ownership landscape in US
- Layoffs hit Jared Kushner’s Observer
- The New York Times to eliminate Public Editor position as part of layoffs to edit staff
- Comey’s committee testimony proves to be ‘front page’ news around much of the world
- Apple WWDC keynote: Recap for digital publishers
- High Times magazine sold to tech and entertainment group backed by Oreva Capital
- Time Inc. CEO announces to staff another 300 layoffs coming due to ‘reengineering’ effort
- The Guardian and The Observer to become tabs in early 2018
- Future plc brings back TeamRock Radio following reacquisition of music magazines
- Daily News points to Trump billionaire supporter as source of Twitter bots; Low turnout for Puerto Rico statehood vote
- Rodale: exploring ‘strategic alternatives’ including sale of the company
The summer is usually a slow time for news, especially publishing news. But 2017 was not a normal year, not with a rabid tweeter in the White House, and media companies being sold off.
- The Sun-Times gets a new owner, but no one is making money in the newspaper business in Chicago
- Republican alternative to ACA fails in Senate; Next challenge — raising the debt ceiling
- Time CEO identifies titles for sale
- It… is… finally… over: Adobe announces end-of-life for Flash
- The Atlantic to be acquired by Laurene Powell Jobs organization Emerson Collective
- High Times sold again, this time to Origo Acquisition Corp, with valuation going from $70M to $250M
- Apple ends its non-iOS iPod line, discontinuing the iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano
- Firing of Scaramucci is front page news in both US and UK, but memo revelation likely to have greater consequences
- ACLU of California splits from national group regarding speech that promotes violence
- Morris Communications sells newspapers to New Media Investment Group
- The Village Voice to shutter the print edition after six decade run as NYC’s alt-weekly
- LA Times editors ousted in shake-up
- Jazz magazine dig! shutters print edition
- Amazon to close Whole Foods deal Monday, a decade or so ago that would have been bad news for newspaper executives
- Apple TV loses ground to its rivals, especially Roku, will likely continue to do so
My wife’s nurse had to stand for 30 mins & administer a drug slowly through a syringe because there are almost no IV bags in the continental U.S. anymore. See, they were all manufactured in a Puerto Rican factory which still isn’t fixed. Meanwhile that stupid swollen prick golfs
— Ben Boyer (@sleezsisters) December 28, 2017
The first month of fall is hurricane season and 2017 was one of the worst on record. Still today, much of Puerto Rico is without power, with consequences we are only now beginning to understand.
- Major earthquake hits Mexico, as hurricanes continue to ravage the Caribbean
- Cat. 5 Hurricane Irma a serious threat to Caribbean islands, then Florida (or another liberal hoax, according to Rush Limbaugh)
- Tronc acquires New York Daily News in deal involving assumption of debt, control of New Jersey printing facility
- Apple event introduces the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Apple TV 4K, new Apple Watch
- Hugh M. Hefner, men’s magazine publisher, dead at 91 years old
- Crisis in Spain escalates as central government uses Civil Guard to arrest Catalan officials
- Jann Wenner to sell majority stake in Rolling Stone; Staff cuts at tronc and Gannett newspapers
The Mueller investigation had been pretty quiet until October. But this month charges were filed against Trump’s former campaign chairman, and then his former national security adviser.
- Puerto Rico and Northern California disasters grow, though president threatens to move on
- Catalan separatist leader blinks, confusing both supporters and detractors of independence effort
- Time Inc.’s Entertainment Weekly to pull up its NYC stakes and move to LA
- Russian activities on social media during 2017 campaign begin to come into focus; Twitter CEO buries his head in the sand
- Investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia killed in car bombing in Malta
- Roy Moore gets temporary boost in followers as Russian bots join race for Alabama Senate seat
- Hearst announces acquisition of Rodale, deal to close in early 2018
- Local press distinguishes itself in coverage of California fires
- Spanish prime minister calls for end of self-rule in Catalunya, while Catalan parliament debates independence declaration
- First charges filed in Mueller probe against Manafort; Spanish prosecutor to file charges against Catalan officials for ‘rebellion’
The month of November will be remembered either as the month signs that the Democrats would regain control of Congrss became apparent, or as a minor blip. It will also be remembered as the month the FCC ended media ownership rules that have been in place for decades, allowing the consolidation of media ownership. The consequences of which will be catastrophic for the industry, in my opinion.
- Democrats enjoy big day at polls, while newspaper endorsements dealt another blow
- Updated: Meredith reportedly makes bid to acquire Time Inc.; Aussie papers celebrate national poll, but not Murdoch’s tab
- FCC votes to roll back media ownership rules, allowing further consolidation of media properties
- Canadian newspaper publishers Postmedia and Torstar swap community newspapers, then announce most will be closed
- Attempt to get Washington Post to incriminate itself backfires, though alt-right media quickly works to twist story around
- Time Inc. sells Sunset magazine to LA-based private equity firm
- BuzzFeed hit with layoffs, as digital ad dollars fall short
Finally, an end… to many things, including this year-end review.
2017 was a horrible year for publishing. Yet it did not have to be. The economy, which nearly went into depression in 2008, has been slowly rebounding for the past eight years. Now the stock market is booming, not because business is so good, but because shareholders are doing so good. It is a time of greed and corruption. When the president can make millions while in office, and Congressman are cashing in, and cashing out.
The next year will see major events, maybe war, maybe a Constitutional crisis. The year started with TNM saying that the biggest threat to our industry was the incoming administration. It ends with a similar warning, but slightly different: the biggest threat to your industry in 2018 is complacency, the willingness to go along with what one knows is wrong.
- Mueller subpoenas Deutsche Bank for Trump bank records; Australia’s competition watchdog to look at digital media landscape
- CVS to buy Aetna in $69 billion deal; Quebec moves to shore up newspaper industry in province
- Angelenos, alt-weekly journalists still in the dark regarding who actually owns the L.A. Weekly
- Boston Herald files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, plans to sell to GateHouse Media
- TIME names ‘The Silence Breakers’ as Person of the Year; Boris Johnson pens column for Rupert Murdoch’s Sun
- Remembering what paid for all those editorial sections filled with few ads, and the real reasons newspapers were so profitable
- FCC votes 3-2 to kill off net neutrality, possibly ending the open Internet era in the US
- The Walt Disney Company to acquire 21 Century Fox after spinoff of broadcast businesses
- Senate passes GOP tax bill, House to revote today; Catalans vote (again) tomorrow with results likely to be unclear
- Catalans go to the polls again; Penske Media acquires majority stake in Rolling Stone
- Two new unique book projects from Quartz and Jordi Savall