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October 16, 2018

Publishing News

Adweek Hot List Names Magazine, Mag Exec and Cover(s) of the Year
As part of its 2018 "Media Hot List," Adweek has named Bob Cohn, president of The Atlantic, Publishing Executive of the Year; The New Yorker as Magazine of the Year; and Time magazine's three "stormy" covers, portraying the Trump presidency, as Cover of the Year. Other winners include National Geographic, Hottest Redesign; The Cut, Website of the Year; Bloomberg Businessweek, Hottest Business Magazine; and The Cut, for Best Conversation Starter ("How Anna Delvey  Tricked New York's Party People"). Excerpts from Adweek: Under Cohn, "who oversees editorial, revenue and operations on all platforms, the 161-year-old [Atlantic publishing company] is seeing one of its best years ever by leaning into its ever-diversifying business while maintaining the editorial excellence that is key to The Atlantic brand. It helps that the philanthropic Emerson Collective, which is run by Laurene Powell Jobs, just bought a majority stake in the magazine, too. Cohn, a longtime journalist who spent five years on The Atlantic’s editorial side before becoming president, said he’s proud revenue is growing across all sectors—year over year, total revenue is up 13%—all while The Atlantic has preserved and strengthened its editorial ethos. 'We’ve really completed our transformation from being a magazine, which we have been for 161 years, to really being a multiplatform media company,' Cohn tells Adweek. 'That transformation has been years in the making, but I feel like in the last year we can say that we’ve really turned the corner.' Part of that transformation has involved three new podcasts, a growing events business that leans into flagship events like The Atlantic Festival and the hire of more than 100 new staffers, half of whom will be on the editorial side"... On The New Yorker: "From ground-shaking reporting on people who sit at the upper echelons of business, entertainment and government to incisive cultural commentary, The New Yorker is having one of its best and most consequential years in its 93-year history. Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer’s reporting on sexual harassers and abusers toppled powerful men and fueled the #MeToo movement, with Farrow’s reporting on the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein resulting in a Pulitzer Prize (shared with The New York Times) for public service. The power of the publication’s journalism is translating on the business side, too, including an all-time-high circulation of 1.23M, 264,000 new subscribers to the magazine in the last year and an average of 13.9M U.S.-only monthly uniques on in the second quarter, up 22 percent year over year." On the Time covers: "This year, Time has stood out from competitors in a fast-paced news cycle with bold cover designs tucked inside its signature red border. The magazine has grabbed readers’ attention since February with a series of covers depicting President Trump in an ever-worsening storm. In the first, wind is blowing through the Oval Office; in the second, water is rising; and in the third, he’s swimming for his life. Longtime contributor Tim O’Brien paints the covers on canvas and takes a digital photo of the painting, giving them an old and new feel all at once. In a news cycle that changes by the minute, Time’s covers feel relevant week after week."

Conde Sale of W Magazine No Longer Imminent
WWD: "It seems Condé Nast is in no great rush to sell off W magazine.While the sale of the oversize fashion glossy was initially expected to be wrapped up by the end of the year, W now has an operating budget for at least the first half of fiscal 2019, based on its print schedule of eight issues a year and with no reductions to its current staff, WWD has learned.Until recently, W’s budget only went through February, which is the end of Condé’s fiscal year. In addition to the official budget, sources also noted that major advertisers like Kering and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (which have their own advertising budgets to finalize), among many others, were personally reassured during recent fashion weeks that the magazine would be printing as usual next year. Other sources noted that, while the magazine is still very much for sale, there simply is not a serious buyer lined up, but Condé knows that changing anything about the print schedule or staffing to immediately reduce costs could hurt W’s image and effectively drive down the asking price, which is said to be around $8M. Also, Condé and its parent company Advance Publications, which is heading up the process, have not started to formally market W, nor Brides or Golf magazines, which are also for sale. A data room and a book to shop around to prospective buyers are (three months later) being finalized under the advisory of Greenhill & Co... Although W’s editor in chief Stefano Tonchi is said to still be interested in leading a group to purchase the magazine, as first reported by WWD, he is now focused on finding a private equity partner for a more ambitious business scheme that would kick off with the purchase of W. But that prospect is far from a certainty... As for the other two titles, they’ve also yet to be formally marketed, but Meredith is still said to be already in talks to acquire Brides, as WWD reported earlier. A clear suitor is still yet to emerge for Golf, but there is said to be some inbound interest in the title."

Bauer to Shut Down Australian Cosmo
The Guardian: Australia’s Cosmopolitan, owned by Hearst Communications and licensed to Bauer in Australia, will cease publication in December, ending 45 years of popular and influential coverage of fashion, beauty, relationships and sex for young Australian women. "It has an Australian and New Zealand readership of 160,000, and now runs second to the more contemporary Frankie magazine with 163,000. Bauer no longer audits copy sales. The CEO of Bauer Media ANZ, Paul Dykzeul, said it was not an easy decision to make, but publishing the magazine in Australia was not “sustainable'... “We have to ensure that we are continually reshaping and defining the business so that our readers of today, and those of tomorrow, remain engaged with the content we publish and the platforms upon which we deliver. We are incredibly proud of the brand and the people who have been involved and represented over the last 45 years. It has helped to launch the careers of media personalities, supported great brands and causes, and inspired millions of young women across the country.' The entire brand, which was targeted at 18 to 24 year olds, will be shut down in Australia including the magazine and the website and 11 staff will be made redundant or redeployed"...


Fast Company Gets New Look, Logo
Fast Company's new editor, Stephanie Mehta, writes about the magazine's newly revealed redesign and editorial updating: "For more than two decades, Fast Company has chronicled innovators, risk takers, and companies that embrace change. This month, we’re following their example by unveiling a reinvigorated look, lively new content, and some unexpected stories—all aimed at making our print, online, and live journalism even more accessible and indispensable to you, our valued readers. We hope to win some new fans, too"...

Tech And Other Stars Help Celebrate Wired's 25th
WWD: "Luminaries from Manhattan to Silicon Valley gathered to toast Wired magazine’s anniversary Sunday night in San Francisco. In the middle of the four-day Wired25 festival and summit, the magazine threw a VIP cocktail hour and dinner at Tartine Manufactory, a Mission District mash-up of a bar, restaurant, bakery and coffee spot. Naturally, the all-star guest list skewed heavily tech, with several venture capitalists and technology luminaries mingling with personalities and friends of the magazine. Tennis superstar Serena Williams attended with husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, joining Mythbusters’ Adam Savage, Apple design chief Jony Ive, Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp, Kevin Systrom (co-founder and ex-CEO of Instagram), Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun, Anne and Janet Wojcicki of 23andMe and others... Condé Nast’s Anna Wintour and Nick Thompson, Wired’s editor in chief, cohosted the party. The gathering offered a respite from the whirlwind activity of the festival’s more than 70 sessions and activities--from virtual reality demos, relaxation stations and fireside chats at the Commonwealth Club to workplace tours of some of the city’s most innovative companies"... Separately, Patently Apple reports on Wintour's on-stage interview of Ive during the summit. ("Ive says that he worries about the state of affairs in the U.S. Wintour asked him about what he loses sleep over. 'It's a rather long list at the moment,' Ive replied. 'I think divisiveness is really what I find really very sad. And it's undeniable that tech has played a significant role in sowing that discord.") also offers a longer report on that interview. In addition, CNBC reports on Wired's Peter Rubin interviewing YouTube's Susan Wojcicki, who said that the platform is trying to fix results that frequently mislead users to extreme view points, inappropriate content, or hoaxes; and on the relatively candid remarks delivered at the summit by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Patently Apple (Ive interview)
Wired (Ive interview)
CNBC (Wojcicki interview)
CNBC (Dorsey presentation)

Penske Media So Far Silent on Saudi Investment
The Wrap: "Penske Media Corp. declined to comment on Monday about whether it will reassess a $200 million investment by a Saudi Arabian public fund earlier this year. Hollywood has been under mounting pressure to distance itself from the Arab kingdom in the wake of the disappearance and alleged murder of Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. In February, Penske, which owns Hollywood trades Variety and Deadline among other publications, received a $200M infusion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The deal was hailed as a “significant milestone for PMC and its stakeholders” by the company at the time. 'After a decade of growth without raising any outside capital, this minority funding will further amplify our investments in existing PMC properties and provide additional resources for future acquisitions,' Lauren Utecht, VP of communications for the company, told Penske-owned WWD in February. Utecht did not respond to repeated requests for comment via email and phone on Monday. An email to Jay Penske, chairman and CEO of PMC, also went unanswered... News of his possible murder prompted a growing number of media companies and executives to drop out of the Future Investment Initiative, a high-powered international conference scheduled to be held Oct. 23-25 in Riyadh. That includes Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, New York Times columnist and CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin, The Economist editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong. Similarly, The New York Times announced it would no longer be a media partner of the event. 
On Monday, WME’s parent company, Endeavor, signaled that it was preparing to withdraw from its $400M deal with the Saudis. An individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap Endeavor was in the process of pulling out of its deal, though the logistics have not been resolved."
The Wrap (Penske)
L.A. Times (more on Endeavor's move)

NYT Taps New Arts & Leisure Editor from Entertainment Weekly
The New York Times has hired Meeta Agrawal as the new editor of its Arts & Leisure section (the previous editor, is now a deputy editor for the section). Agrawal comes from 11 years at Entertainment Weekly, where she rose "from correspondent to executive editor to deputy editor," writes "During her last three years at EW, Meeta collaborated with the editor in chief to curate the magazine’s covers, negotiating and editing many of the stories herself. Additionally, she was in charge of print and digital coverage of TV, film, books, podcasts and pop music; led the magazine’s live event strategy; coordinated with its marketing and ad sales teams; and directed its signature digital and print franchises, including its Entertainers of the Year issue. Before her long tenure at EW, Meeta was a staff editor on Time Inc.’s relaunched Life magazine"...

U.S. Media Trust Continues to Recover From 2016 Low
Gallup reports that its latest poll shows 45% of Americans having a great deal or fair amount of trust in the mass media to report the news "fully, accurately and fairly/" That represents a continued recovery from the all-time low of 32% in 2016. Media trust is now the highest it has been since 2009 but remains below what it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s... When Gallup first asked Americans to evaluate the mass media in a 1972 survey, 68% said they trusted it a great deal or a fair amount. In 1974 and 1976 surveys, trust remained near 70%. Two decades later, the next time Gallup asked the question, trust in the media had fallen to 53%. It held at about that level through 2003, before falling to 44% in 2004 amid controversy over inaccurate reporting by Dan Rather of CBS News about George W. Bush's military service. CBS later issued an apology for the report. Although media trust rebounded slightly to 50% a year later, it has yet to return to the majority level. All party groups' trust in the media hit record lows in 2016 and has increased in the past two years. Democrats' trust surged last year and is now at 76%, the highest in Gallup's trend by party, based on available data since 1997. Independents' trust in the media is now at 42%, the highest for that group since 2005. Republicans continue to lag well behind the other party groups -- just 21% trust the media -- but that is up from 14% in 2016 and last year"...

News 'Deserts' Proliferating as Newspapers Fold; Trump-Aligned Super Pac Bids On Tribune Media
Yahoo: "More than 1,800 US newspapers have closed since 2004, leaving expanding "news deserts" with little or no local reporting on public affairs, researchers said in a report Monday.The study by the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism, an update of a 2016 paper, found that more than one-fifth of local dailies or weeklies had been shuttered in a decade and a half.As a result, "thousands of our communities (are) at risk of becoming news deserts," the report said. Half of the 3,143 counties in the United States now have only one newspaper, usually a small weekly, and almost 200 counties in the country have no newspaper at all."The people with the least access to local news are often the most vulnerable -- the poorest, least educated and most isolated," the report said"... In related news, The New Yorker reports that, thwarted in its attempted merger with Tribune Media, Sinclair is looking to buy up TV stations in smaller local markets to continue the expansion of its conservative network empire... And MediaPost cites a report by The New York Post that "Tom Hicks Jr., chairman of the super PAC America First, which is aligned with President Trump, is expected to bid on Tribune Media... Hicks would be one of a number of expected suitors for Tribune Media, according to analysts, including TV station company Nexstar Media Group, as well as private-equity groups such as Apollo Global Management and Blackstone Group"...
Yahoo (newspapers)
The New Yorker (Sinclair expansion)

Movie Director Denies Esquire Article's Accusations in Advance
Slate: "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer made a pre-emptive Instagram post on Monday denying sexual assault accusations he says will appear in an upcoming Esquire article. 'I have known for some time that Esquire magazine may publish a negative article about me,' he wrote, claiming that the article will 'attempt to rehash false accusations'"... The Esquire article has not yet been released"... Slate does not mention whether it attempted to reach Esquire or Hearst representatives about Singer's post.


Retail News

Walmart Trims Fiscal Year Earnings Guidance
SN: "At its annual investment community meeting, Walmart pared its fiscal 2019 earnings-per-share forecast and projected a slight EPS decline for fiscal 2020 due to the impact of the Flipkart acquisition.Walmart said Tuesday that it expects fiscal 2019 EPS of $2.65 to $2.80 (GAAP), down from its previous guidance of $2.90 to $3.05. Adjusted EPS is now pegged at $4.65 to $4.80 versus the earlier outlook of $4.90 to $5.05. Walmart noted the update reflects share dilution of 25 cents from the $16 billion purchase of Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce player. Closed in August, the deal marked Walmart’s biggest acquisition ever and made the company Flipkart’s largest shareholder, with a 77% stake. Fiscal 2019 GAAP EPS also includes a $1.51 negative impact from the sale of Walmart Brazil and a 50-cent impact from unrealized gains/losses in Walmart’s equity investment in into the investor event, analysts projected Walmart’s 2019 adjusted EPS at $4.79 on average, with estimates ranging from a low of $4.62 to a high of $4.90, according to Thomson Reuters. On the revenue side, Walmart reaffirmed its fiscal 2019 sales guidance of about 2% growth (constant currency). Comparable-store sales are forecast to rise approximately 3% year over year for Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club, with e-commerce sales surging 40%. Revenue for Walmart International is expected to inch up 0.7% (constant currency). “We’re adapting and transforming with speed to better serve our existing customers and reach new ones,” said Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, who gave investors a review of Walmart’s performance for 2019 and what to expect in the next fiscal year. “We’re operating with discipline, balancing our short- and long-term opportunities. While we’re excited about what we’ve done so far, we aren’t satisfied. As we execute today and build for tomorrow, our associates and unique omnichannel assets position us for success.”Though not providing figures, Walmart said it expects fiscal 2020 adjusted EPS to decline by low single digits year over year. However, excluding the impact of Flipkart, adjusted EPS stands to rise by low to mid-single digits, according to the company. Analysts’ consensus forecast calls for 2020 adjusted EPS of $4.71, with estimates running from a low of $4.43 to a high of $4.84, Thomson Reuters reported.Walmart projects total sales to grow at least 3% (constant currency) in fiscal 2020. This reflects a 100-basis-point negative impact from the deconsolidation of Walmart Brazil and planned tobacco sales reduction at Sam’s Club, the company said.Comp-store sales in 2020 are forecast to increase 2.5% to 3% at Walmart U.S. (excluding fuel) and 1% at Sam’s Club (excluding fuel). Backing out both fuel and tobacco sales, comp-sales growth at Sam’s is estimated at 3%. E-commerce sales are expected to grow 35% for the year.At Walmart International, sales growth is projected at 5% for 2020, including a positive impact from Flipkart and a negative impact from the deconsolidation of Walmart Brazil, the company said"...

Supervalu Posts Higher Sales, Bigger Loss for Q2
SN: "Just days after getting the green light to be acquired by United Natural Foods Inc., Supervalu Inc. reported an uptick in sales and a larger net loss for its fiscal 2019 Q2. In a 10-Q filing on Monday with the SEC, Supervalu said revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 8 rose 1.9% to $3.51B from $3.45B a year earlier. The Minneapolis-based food distributor and retailer attributed the gain mainly to sales from acquisitions by Associated Grocers of Florida and Unified Grocers plus higher sales to new customers. Those increases were partially offset in part by reduced sales due to closed stores and stores no longer operated by customers, lower sales to existing customers, lower transition services agreement fees and lower military sales. Wholesale revenue climbed 3.6% to $2.84B in Q2, accounting for nearly 81% of Supervalu’s sales. Sales at the company’s corporate-owned supermarkets fell 3.1% to $650 million, or 18.5% of total revenue, in the quarter. Same-store sales were flat versus an 0.2% increase in the prior-year period. The average basket size grew 1.8% year over year, while customer traffic fell 1.8%. The fiscal 2019 quarter also included an operating loss of $62M, vs. operating income of $17M in the year-ago period. On the earnings side, Supervalu posted a Q2 net loss of $57M, or $1.49 per diluted share, vs. a net loss of $25M, or 65 cents per diluted share, a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA came in at $64M, down from $94M in the 2017 quarter. For the fiscal 2019 first half, Supervalu totaled sales of $8.27B, a YoY gain of 18.7%. Wholesale revenue rose 25.6% to $6.65B, and retail sales dipped 1.6 to $1.55B. The company had an operating loss of $62M for the period vs. operating earnings of $61M in the 2017 quarter... Supervalu’s bottom line for the 28-week first half showed a net loss of $78M, or $2.04 per diluted share, vs. a net loss of $14M, or 36 cents per diluted share, in the 2017 first half. Adjusted EBITDA was $162M for the 2018 period versus $212M the year before. In an Oct. 12 SEC filing, Supervalu said the FTC has cleared the way for its deal to be acquired by United Natural Foods, as the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period expired. The companies expect the $2.9B transaction, announced in late July, to close in Q4 2018, pending regulatory and shareholder approvals... Plans call for United Natural Foods CEO Steve Spinner to lead the combined company, with the distributor’s COO, Sean Griffin, becoming CEO of Supervalu. The merger also will mark Supervalu’s exit from the grocery retail business. Supervalu has steadily been divesting its corporate-owned stores, most recently in a sale of 19 Shop ‘n Save stores in the St. Louis area to Schnuck Markets Inc."...

Albertsons Digital Marketplace Goes Live
SN: "Albertsons Cos. has launched an online marketplace that provides a venue for third-party vendors to sell directly to its customers.Announced in March, the Albertsons Digital Marketplace offers more than 40,000 specialty food and nonfood products. The virtual store focuses on natural, organic, ethnic and alternative products, including hard-to-find items such as spices and condiments, specific flavors of coffee, and unique health and beauty aids.Plans call for the new e-store, accessed at, to carry more than 100,000 products by the end of 2018, the Boise, Idaho-based supermarket retailer said"...

Walmart, PayPal Team For Digital Payments
MediaPost: "Walmart and PayPal are collaborating to jointly provide financial services and products for both companies’ products.The two companies will roll out PayPal cash in and cash out money services at Walmart for a fee of $3 per service. This is the first time PayPal mobile app users will be able to take cash from their PayPal account at a physical environment, according to the company. Walmart customers also will be able to load cash into their PayPal accounts at Walmart stores.PayPal Mastercard customers also will be able to access their cash balance using at Walmart service desks, ATMs and cash registers for the same fee."

MyWebGrocer to Be Acquired by Mi9 Retail
PG: "MyWebGrocer (MWG), a longtime digital solutions provider for grocers and CPGs, has agreed to be acquired by Mi9 Retail, a Miami-based provider of end-to-end software solutions for retailers, wholesalers and brands. Prior to the agreement, Mi9's offerings served the apparel, hardline, department store, footwear, health and beauty, jewelry, luxury, specialty, and sporting goods channels. The addition of new grocery technology gives Mi9 Retail's suite entry into the supermarket channel, bolstering its existing offering with new ecommerce, order management, and click-and-collect functionality. Moreover, MWG's customers will benefit from the broader Mi9 suite of demand management, price and promotions management, and retail analytics solutions. "Combining MWG with Mi9 will increase our ability to serve our customers with innovative technology, professional services and industry expertise," said Barry Clogan, president of retail solutions at MWG. "Our technology and media businesses complement the Mi9 platform and will operate more efficiently with the scale and business process expertise that Mi9 has put in place. This is a real win-win for our customers and employees."MWG's existing sponsor, Palo Alto, Calif.-based private equity firm HGGC, will join Mi9 investors General Atlantic and Respida as investors in Mi9"...

Walmart to Launch Online Store to Sell Rival Video Services
Bloomberg: Walmart Inc. is "looking to create an online store that would sell other companies’ video services, according to people familiar with the talks, opening up a new front in its fight with Inc. The world’s largest retailer has approached several media companies about reselling their streaming services, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The idea would be to let customers of Walmart’s video service, Vudu, pay for additional services like HBO Now, Showtime or Starz. The discussions are still exploratory, and Walmart’s plans may change"...

GS1 US to Hold Cross-Industry Blockchain Discussion Group
PG: "GS1 US will host a cross-industry discussion group in Chicago next month to help companies better understand the transformative qualities of blockchain in the supply chain, and to prepare for blockchain implementations employing GS1 Standards, which provide a foundational data structure and systems interoperability. At the inaugural meeting, scheduled for Nov. 28-29, members of GS1 US initiatives in the apparel/general merchandise, foodservice, health care and retail grocery industries will join GS1 US experts to discuss how the distributed-ledger technology facilitates decentralized, secure and efficient data exchange. Attendees will find out how blockchain supports supply chain imperatives, among them product traceability and authentication, which can enable product information transparency. The group will additionally pinpoint process gaps that GS1 Standards and industry can address, align industries on the role of GS1 Standards in blockchain, and craft “Getting Started” guidance"...


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