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January 26, 2021

Publishing News

Penske Hires Longtime WSJ Exec for Luxury Sales
Release: Penske Media Corp. (PMC) has hired Luke Bahrenburg as EVP and chief revenue officer, Robb Report and head of luxury sales, PMC. He will lead sales, marketing, live media and business operations at Robb Report as well as oversee luxury portfolio sales across PMC’s Art Media titles, ARTnews and Art in America. He will work closely with PMC’s corporate sales team, Robb Report’s Editor-In-Chief, Paul Croughton, and Art Media’s President and Editorial Director, Marion Maneker, to develop and implement growth strategies across the business. Bahrenberg will report to Thomas Finn, EVP and General Manager, Operations, and will be based in PMC’s New York office. His appointment is part of a larger corporate strategy to bring all of PMC’s consumer luxury sales under one leadership vertical... Bahrenburg comes to PMC after 10 years at Dow Jones, where he was responsible for building and growing WSJ | Barron’s Group luxury and lifestyle business... [There, he] launched several new brands, including Mansion & Mansion Global, and led the digital transformation of WSJ. Magazine."

A360 'Insiders' Claim Pecker's Still in Charge
Daily Beast: David Pecker "ostensibly retired as chairman and CEO of the National Enquirer’s financially strapped parent company last August when [American Media Inc.] changed its name to A360 Media as it was being acquired by a marketer of face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and vitamin supplements... [but] According to three well-situated A360 Media insiders, the 69-year-old Pecker, nominally just an “executive adviser,” is still driving editorial decisions from his Greenwich, Conn. estate and protecting his longtime pal Trump—much as he did during the 2016 campaign... The revelation comes amid mass layoffs across A360 Media’s titles—which also include Star magazine, OK!, Globe, Examiner, In Touch, Us Weekly and Life and Style—with significantly curtailed severance packages being offered to a fired workforce that already took a 23% pay cut last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting print-media bottom lines... A second staffer said Pecker—who, along with his former sidekick Dylan Howard, signed a non-prosecution deal in December 2018 with the Southern District of New York to come clean about their, and Trump’s, potential violations of campaign finance laws—is A360 Media’s man behind the curtain... [The claims are] denied by Dan Dolan, the editor-in-chief of both the National Enquirer and Globe. “All editorial decisions for the National Enquirer and Globe are made by me and my editorial team and any suggestion that David is still involved is baseless and completely false,” Dolan said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “In fact, the last time he attended an edit meeting was July of 2020"... A spokesperson for A360 Media, meanwhile, explained the layoffs and reduced severance packages this way: “While we have been able to bring back a number of furloughed staff and extend benefit protection to those still furloughed, the Covid-19 pandemic is still having a measurable impact on our industry and as a result we have had to make difficult decisions in regard to staffing""...

Meredith Hires Diversity VP
Release: Meredith Corp. has hired Diane L. Parker as vice president of diversity and inclusion. Parker will lead Meredith's diversity and inclusion initiatives and programming across all locations and businesses. She succeeds Shona Pinnock, who left Meredith in Fall 2020 for a new opportunity. Parker will report to SVP of Human Resources Dina Nathanson. For the past 20 years, Parker served as director, staffing, global diversity and inclusion for the Associated Press (AP), where she created training, education, leadership development, onboarding, and orientation programs, and redesigned the AP's global news internship program with a key focus on diversity and inclusion. 

New Yorker Returns National Magazine Award
NY Post: "The New Yorker has decided to return a National Magazine Award it won for a story on Japan’s “rental family” industry, marking the first time in the 55-year history that American Society of Magazine Editors has seen an award returned. The New Yorker revealed in mid-December that the writer Elif Batuman in her article “A Theory of Relativity” had been deceived about the identity of the main sources in the article, which appeared in the Conde Nast-owned weekly in April 2018.The offer to return the prestigious award for feature writing came only days before the ASME board was going to meet on Jan. 28 to consider rescinding it. An editor’s note now affixed to the top of online story acknowledges problems with three major sources, including Yuichi Ishii, owner of Family Romance. He was apparently married to one of the subjects in the story who falsely claimed that she was a single mom who rented a father figure for her daughter... The article won the feature writing award handed out in 2019. Now, the board will instead consider whether to give the feature writing award to one of the finalists that The New Yorker had originally beaten out for the honor, considered one of the most coveted prizes in the magazine world"...

Forbes Cancels Bermuda 'Residency'
The Guardian reports that, within hours after it inquired about a Forbes plan to offer 30-day residencies in Bermuda to those on its "30 Under 30" list, Forbes dropped the initiative. The invitation had been posted on a Slack group used by some of those who have been featured on the annual list and shared with the Guardian by two people. Recipients were told that “in a time of global chaos” Forbes had “decided to undertake something unprecedented, something amazing, something magical"... “We’re going to do our first ever residency,” the message, sent by Forbes editor and 30 under 30 creator Randall Lane, continued. “A program for the entire month of March, where people can work all day, and then network, engage in live programming and have incredible fun on nights and weekends"... The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes Bermuda in its highest level-4 tier of Covid-19 risk, classed as “very high” risk, and says “travelers should avoid all travel to these destinations"...

Business Insider's Secret to Weathering COVID: Change Nothing
WSJ: "Across American corporations, leaders were responding to the Covid-19 crisis with a flurry of activity and strategy shifts. [Business Insider co-founder Henry] Blodget persuaded the company’s owner, German media conglomerate Axel Springer SE , to do nothing and let the storm pass. It worked. Insider Inc., the parent of Business Insider and related properties, roared back in the second half of the year, posting 30% revenue growth for 2020 while turning a profit, Mr. Blodget said. A person familiar with the matter said the company generated over $150m in revenue"...
Wall St Journal (paid sub req.)

Why Collect Old Issues of a Now-Defunct Magazine?
In the NY Times Magazine, Tara Ariano shares how Jane Pratt's now-defunct but much critically lauded teen magazine Sassy improved her life as a teen during the late 80's and early 90's -- and why she began to collect old issues of the magazine after the pandemic hit last year. "Looking back, I find it obvious why I suddenly became obsessed, in the summer of 2020, with recapturing that feeling: Once again, I was trapped by circumstances beyond my control...Going through the issues now, my present-day self yearns to go back, not to who I was during those years — because as I mentioned, I was not exactly killing it — but to who we all were... The way we felt we knew the Sassy staff back in the day would be familiar to anyone who’s intimate with strangers’ most arcane opinions and mannerisms from listening to them on podcasts or following them on Twitter"...

Twitter Adds Crowdsourcing Tool to Help Reduce Misinformation
CNN Business: "Twitter on Monday launched Birdwatch, an experiment that relies on the social network's users to provide context to tweets and to combat misinformation. The tool, which Twitter described as a community-driven pilot project, allows participating users in the United States to create "notes" for a given tweet that will exist for now on a separate part of Twitter's website. Notes that contribute to a consensus on whether a post is misleading may "eventually" be shown directly on tweets, the company said in a blog post. Twitter did not say, however, whether tweets that receive notes may lead to removal or other consequences; the intent behind the tool, it said, is for users to be able to respond quickly to a fast-spreading claim"...


Retail News

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ShopRite Closing 62 Pharmacies
PG: "The ShopRite supermarket banner has revealed that it’s closing pharmacies at 62 of its stores across Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York over the next month. Pharmacy customers at those locations will have their prescriptions filled instead at nearby CVS pharmacies, to whom ShopRite has sold some of its pharmacy business...“[t]he pharmacy industry is highly competitive and we were unable to sustain sufficient sales despite our marketing efforts," said Karen O’Shea, a spokeswoman for Wakefern Food Corp., the retailer-owned cooperative whose members operate ShopRite stores"...

Amazon to Add 3K Tech, Other Jobs in Boston
ABC News: "Amazon's 2020 hiring spree does not appear to be slowing in the new year with the company announcing 3,000 new jobs in Boston in coming years. The hires announced Tuesday will double the workforce in Amazon's Boston tech hub, with new jobs spread across Alexa, Amazon Web Services, Amazon Robotics, and Amazon Pharmacy. In its most recent quarter which ended in September, Amazon hired more than 250,000 permanent full-time and part-time workers, CFO Brian Olsavsky said during an conference call with industry analysts. In October, the start of this quarter, it hired another 100,000.Amazon now has more than a million employees, 800,000 of them in the U.S. When the company reports fourth quarter financial numbers next month, it expects sales will have spiked as much as 38%, possibly reaching $121B during the three month period"...

Pandemic Disrupts Global Supply Chain
Washington Post: "One year after the coronavirus pandemic first disrupted global supply chains by closing Chinese factories, fresh shipping headaches are delaying U.S. farm exports, crimping domestic manufacturing and threatening higher prices for American consumers. The cost of shipping a container of goods has risen by 80% since early November and has nearly tripled over the past year, according to the Freightos Baltic Index. The increase reflects dramatic shifts in consumption during the pandemic, as consumers redirect money they once spent at restaurants or movie theaters to the purchase of record amounts of imported clothing, computers, furniture and other goods. That abrupt and unprecedented spending shift has upended long-standing trade patterns, causing bottlenecks from the gates of Chinese factories to the doorsteps of U.S. homes. The commercial disorder is just the latest blow to globalization’s finely tuned engine, capping more than a decade of financial crisis, trade wars, contagion and recession. Each shock has triggered swings in the flow of cash and goods through the $91 trillion global economy. But reverberations from the pandemic are exposing vulnerabilities in the physical plumbing of cross-border commerce that may linger, according to exporters, port officials and trade specialists"...
Washington Post (paid sub req.)

Is a Labor Storm Developing at Retail?
RetailWire: "Management and labor unions have been at odds with very few exceptions for as long as the two have been around. This has certainly been the case in the retailing business. The question right now, however, is whether nonunion frontline workers have been made to feel more disposable during the novel coronavirus pandemic and if they will turn to collective bargaining agreements in an effort to seek safety in numbers. A report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week found that the total number of union members in the U.S. fell last year by 2.2 percent compared to 2019. The percentage of all workers with union cards, however, rose by half a percentage point to 10.5% in 2020. The federal agency explained that this apparent contradiction reflects greater job losses among nonunion workers, primarily those in low hourly wage positions in hospitality, leisure and other industries. The BLS findings may or may not point to a perfect storm, of sorts, coming the way of retailers. The industry directly employs 32M people, according to the National Retail Federation, which along with other organizations representing retailers points to the business as an entry point for employment in the U.S. while offering those looking to build careers a wide variety of advancement opportunities over time. Conflicts between workers and management have been placed in a more contrasting light since the pandemic hit. Issues of working conditions, racial equity, income disparity and job security have grown even more prevalent at a time when “essential” retailers have produced record financial results while those designated “non-essential” have had to revert to furloughs, layoffs and reduced man hours in an effort to balance demand with operating expenses. Some retailers with nonunion workforces have raised starting wages to $15 an hour, but even that is no guarantee that some workers may not turn to unions. A case in point is a vote scheduled next month at an warehouse in Alabama when workers will decide if they will be represented by the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. Employees at the facility approached the union in response to productivity tracking measures put in place by the e-tailing giant. More than 2,000 of 5,800 employees have signed cards calling for a vote."

Tech Partnership Aims to Hone CPGs' Ecommerce Sales
PG: "As grocery shopping gets more digital, more food retail technology companies are joining up to deploy their resources, including in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) space. The latest example of that comes from Salsify, a commerce experience management platform, and Label Insight, whose technology helps product-attribute growth across the CPG ecosystem. The goal? To enable bidirectional data transfer between Label Insight's product attribute metadata platform and Salsify's commerce experience management (CommerceXM) in the food retail space. More specifically, the two companies say this partnership will improve brands' ability to create new product data, enrich existing product data and enhance their overall business intelligence to propel e-commerce sales — all of which could help online shoppers better find specific food retail products. This partnership provides CPG brands with the ability to improve their digital shelf experience across their retail networks by generating and optimizing their product content with product attribute metadata to better meet the needs of shoppers. Retailers could also benefit from being able to deliver more personalized shopping experiences. "The addition of Label Insight product metadata to our comprehensive, integrated suite of CommerceXM capabilities will open new growth trajectories for our customers," said Ken Cowan, head of strategic development at Salsify. "Whether it's improving product content at initial setup or optimizing existing content experiences across the digital shelf, our bidirectional data integration will improve discovery and conversion across retail channels""...

Coca-Cola Coffee Makes U.S. Debut With Drone Deliveries From Walmart
PG: "The skies over Coffee County, Georgia will be buzzing with drones on January 26-27 as the new Coca-Cola with Coffee product is delivered via drone from a Walmart supercenter. Drone deliveries will be made during daylight hours to single family homes within a one-mile radius of a Walmart supercenter. Coca-Cola teamed up with Walmart and DroneUp, a nationwide drone services provider, to offer a two pack of Coca-Cola with Coffee and Coca-Cola with Coffee Zero Sugar for $2.32. The offer is available to those who opted in last summer to receive updates about the product launch. Also, beginning on Jan. 25, customers could receive a free can of Coca-Cola with Coffee, using the Ibotta app, at Walmart stores across the country"...

Albertsons Joins Group Reinventing Retail Bags
SN: "Albertsons Cos., the nation’s second-largest supermarket operator, has joined the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag as a supporting partner to help reduce plastic waste through the Beyond the Bag Initiative. The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag was launched last summer by the Center for the Circular Economy at green investment firm Closed Loop Partners to test options to the single-use plastic shopping bag now used by mass retailers nationwide. The coalition’s three-year Beyond the Bag Initiative calls on retailers to “think outside the box” to address the global waste issue of plastic shopping bags while upholding consumer convenience. Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons said that over next few years it will continue to work on its own waste reduction efforts and collaborate with consortium partners on solutions that enable shoppers to transport groceries in an environmentally sustainable and convenient way"...


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