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July 29, 2021

Publishing News

FreightWaves Founder Charles Fuller Acquires Flying Magazine
MediaPost: "Flying magazine, the aviation title that existed since 1927, the year Charles Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, has been acquired by FreightWaves founder Craig Fuller from Bonner Corp. Financial terms were not disclosed. Fuller announced the purchase at the EAA’s AirVenture show in Oshkosh, WI. “I have been flying since the age of 13, and Flying has been my guide through that journey over the past few decades,” Fuller said. “Today, I have the opportunity to blend two passions: aviation and media.” The publication will remain an independent entity called the Flying Media Group. Fuller plans to invest in online and mobile platforms as part of an ambitious digital media plan and place greater emphasis on photography, podcasts and streaming video. The existing editorial team led by Julie Boatman will remain in place. They will become part of Flying Media Group. In fact, Fuller’s FreightWaves, a publisher that covers freight, logistics, cargo and transportation, was included among the best startup employers by Forbes last year. Flying covers aviation news, stories about pilot experiences, equipment reviews, safety and training information and regulatory updates. Those topics will still be emphasized, along with what it means to be a pilot. But Fuller also plans to create dedicated sections for student, hobbyist and professional pilots and focus on technology and business news in the broader aviation industry. The company notes there are more than 240,000 pilots in the U.S. and that 74,000 new pilot certificates are issued every year. Moreover, the sector contributes more than $247 billion to U.S. GDP and employs 273,000 people across the country."

Reading Time Rose 21% in 2H 2020
PW: "The theory among publishers that book sales rose last year because people were reading more has been borne out in part by a survey by the U.S. Department of Labor. According to the American Time Use survey, reading among people 15 years old and up increased by 21% in the May-December period in 2020 over the same period in 2019. [The figures supplied by the government reflect portions of hours per day spend reading, not minutes. While the percent change between years remains correct, the number of minutes spent reading have been lowered.] The data show that reading of all kinds increased from just under 17 minutes per day in 2019 in the same timeframe to just over 20 minutes in the comparable period last year. The biggest increase in daily reading came among 20 to 34 year-olds and in readers over 65. People older than 75 spent by far the most time reading last year (and every year for that matter), reading an average of 55 minutes per day in the 2020 May-December period. Men increased their daily reading habit by 30%, to an average of 18 minutes per day, while the time women spent reading rose 18%, to about 23 minutes daily. By race, the time devoted to reading by Black Americans soared, jumping 140% to 14 minutes per day according to the survey. Reading by white Americans increased 19%, to 22 minutes per day, while reading by Asian Americans increased by 19%, to 11 minutes daily. Reading by Hispanic and Latino Americans stayed flat at 6 minutes, the survey found. Economic and educational divides presented a stark picture of who, exactly, had time to read last year. There was a significant drop in reading among those Americans with no high school diploma, with the daily average falling 42%, to 6.5 minutes per day. People with at least a bachelor's degree increased their reading time by 24%, to 31 minutes. In addition, people who could be considered upper middle class—defined as those in the 50th to 75th percentile of weekly earnings—had the biggest increase in reading, jumping 131%, to over 22 minutes daily, the longest time spent reading among all groups. Daily reading fell 27% for those in the lowest 25th percentile. Time spent reading remained flat, at 12 minutes, for the wealthiest Americans.

WaPo Hires First Subscription Officer
Adweek: "The Washington Post has hired its first chief subscriptions officer, former vice president of global marketing at Paramount+ Michael Ribero, effective August 16. The privately-owned Washington Post shared with Axios last November that it had nearly 3M digital subscriptions. Ribero is tasked with growing that globally. Rather than replace the chief marketing officer role after the departure of Miki King in March 2021, the news organization is expanding it with Ribero’s appointment. “In terms of goals, my remit is clear: it’s subscriptions,” Ribero told Adweek. “[Subscriptions] are an outcome, not a product. A good marketer wants to meet consumers where they are, putting them in the middle, whether that means we need to be better at ads, or what products we offer them. Having that better customer experience will allow us to do things other organizations aren’t able to.” Appointing a C-suite role to manage subscriptions speaks volumes, signaling the importance of subscription revenue to the economic viability of the Post. There are some examples in the publishing and streaming ecosystems, with Dow Jones and sports video service DAZN both appointing candidates to the role in the last 12 months. As publishers of all stripes compete in an increasingly cluttered landscape, reader fatigue on pandemic-related news coverage and a less volatile political ecosystem, retaining readers is a battleground"...

Gawker's Back, Five Years Later
MediaPost: "Gawker, the site known for no-holds barred journalism and a snarky attitude, is back, with Leah Finnegan as editor. The site says: “WELCOME TO GAWKER. The new one.” The back story is that Gawker entered bankruptcy in 2016 after losing a $140M lawsuit judgment to wrestler Hulk Hogan and billionaire Peter Thiel. Bustle Digital Group (BDG) acquired Gawker for $1.35M at a bankruptcy auction in 2018, and planned to revive the site back in 2019, but backed off. Finnegan said “no way in hell” when initially approached by BDG. She had been a reporter for The New York Times, editor of BDG’s The Outline, which shut down in April 2020, and features editor at Gawker. “Who in God’s name would want to edit a website that was cratered by an evil tech lord and sullied by a botched relaunch?” Finnegan writes in her opening editorial. “The Gawker name was toxic, but also weirdly revered; an intractable combination. However, she reconsidered when Bustle approached her again in January. “It was a dark time. I was living off of Biden bucks, watching a lot of Love It or List It, and wondering what I would do with my life.” Finnegan determined: “Nothing was funny anymore. There were no good sites to read.” So she took on the challenging. Her first order of business, besides deleting all her old posts, was hiring “all my favorite writers and editors.” These include Brandy Jensen, features editor, and Jocelyn Silver, managing editor. The redesigned site features such headlines as “Capitol Rioter Has Some Loyal Bitches,” “Adam Neumann Spotted In The Hamptons With A Pizza And A Rabbi” and “Do Justin And Hailey Bieber Hate Each Other?” Time will tell if Finnegan’s boast holds true: “I am a genius.""


Retail News

Economy Rebounds to Pre-Pandemic Levels
Yahoo News: "he U.S. economy grew solidly in the second quarter, pulling the level of gross domestic product above its pre-pandemic peak, as massive government aid and vaccinations against COVID-19 fueled spending on goods and services. The pace of GDP growth reported by the Commerce Department on Thursday was, however, slower than economists had expected. That was because businesses ran down inventories further to meet the robust demand. Supply constraints, which have caused shortages of goods such as motor vehicles and household appliances, are making it harder for business to replenish stocks. "The U.S. economy is off and running," said Scott Hoyt, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. "Real GDP has fully recovered what it lost in the downturn. The economy is well ahead of much of the rest of the world, save China and some parts of southeast Asia, in its recovery from the pandemic recession"Gross domestic product increased at a 6.5% annualized rate last quarter, the government said in its advance estimate of second-quarter GDP. The economy grew at a 6.3% rate in the first quarter, revised down from the previously reported 6.4% pace. The level of GDP is now 0.8% higher than it was at its peak in the fourth quarter of 2019, marking the shortest recession and fastest recovery in the nation's history. After the 2007-09 downturn, it took the economy 3-1/2 years to return to its pre-recession peak. "The economy has achieved escape velocity from which there is no going back," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS in New York. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast GDP rising at an 8.5% rate last quarter. Inventories contracted at a rate of $165.9 billion, slicing 1.13 percentage points from GDP growth. Trade, housing and government spending were also drags on GDP growth last quarter. Excluding inventories, trade and government spending, the economy grew at a 9.9% pace. This measure of domestic demand rose at an 11.8% pace in the first quarter"...

Walmart to Sell Omnichannel Capabilities to Other Businesses
Grocery Dive: "As consumers continue to shop across online and physical stores, Walmart will soon offer the pickup and delivery capabilities it has developed to thousands of small and mid-sized businesses. To offer the service bundle, the retailer entered a strategic partnership with Adobe, according to Walmart's press release Wednesday. Through Adobe Commerce, retailers and brands can use Walmart's cloud-based services to access Walmart Marketplace (where 2-day shipping is available), online and in-store fulfillment as well as pickup capabilities. Adobe's U.S. retail customers can get access to Walmart's omnichannel technology starting in early 2022, according to Adobe's blog post Tuesday. Neither Walmart nor Adobe disclosed the cost of Walmart's services. In addition to its goal of winning consumers' spending dollars, it seems the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer is now attempting to take a slice of the business-to-business market by way of offering services. "We've built new capabilities to serve the evolving needs of our own customers, and we have a unique opportunity to use our experience to help other businesses do the same," John Furner, chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., said in a statement. "Commercializing our technologies and capabilities helps us sustainably reinvest back into our customer value proposition. "With the help of its robust omnichannel fulfillment services, Walmart's revenue for the fiscal year rose 6.7% to $559.2B, with ecommerce up 79%. Instead of gatekeeping the technology it has developed, Walmart is leveraging it as a new source of revenue." Combining Adobe's strength in powering commerce experiences with our unmatched omni-customer expertise, we can accelerate other companies' digital transformations," Suresh Kumar, chief technology officer and chief development officer of Walmart, said in a statement. In recent years, Walmart has been moving away from traditional retail by selling more than just merchandise at its stores — setting the stage to becoming a more comprehensive one-stop shop"...

Shoppers Stocking Up on Health Items as COVID Cases Rise
Grocery Dive: "Consumers are stepping up purchases of health and wellness items closely associated with the pandemic as COVID-19 cases rise amid the rapid spread of the delta variant, according to data from Instacart. Sales of products such as disinfectant sprays, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and cold medicine were up by 15% or more over the past week on the Instacart platform, while mask sales logged a 37% increase during the past three weeks, the e-commerce provider said. The findings from Instacart underscore the close relationship between people's supermarket shopping patterns and the threats posed by the pandemic"...

Living With COVID Means a Polarized Path Ahead
SN: "In SN, Genevieve Aronson is VP of Global Thought Leadership at NielsenIQ, writes: "Globally, the vaccination rollout has slowly gained traction and vaccine adoption rates on a mass scale are widely diverse. But perhaps most notable is the growing sentiment that the world may never be fully rid of this virus. Instead, countries are rethinking formal policies and people are shifting their pandemic perspective to adjust to an indefinite life with COVID-19. As COVID-19 variants propel new spikes in infection rates, the personal, governmental and corporate responses to crises are becoming increasingly polarized. Government officials around the world have hinted at a gradual shift away from restrictive mandates in favor of proactive, self-minded guidance for citizens. Without the uniformity of a universal lockdown, as experienced in the very first wave of the pandemic, the path forward is being dictated in many cases by collective individual decisions and mindsets... For people and companies, what “living with COVID” will require is the recognition of a widened spectrum of “moving-on mindsets"...In the immediate future, sporadic instances of restricted-living mandates will continue to be a disruptive force for many around the world. The most recent “pingdemic” in the UK illustrates this point. Amidst the latest spread of the Delta variant, shelves were once again emptied out and retail was disrupted when over 600,000 people received the “ping” to self-isolate from the National Health Service (NHS) test and trace app. The lingering strain and unpredictable threats ahead will continue to be a retail reality. Moving forward, retailers should expect regular disruption. Be prepared for the bullwhip effect (the increasing swings in inventory due to shifts in consumer demand). Operate with the expectation that employment disruptions will continue given the unpredictable nature of today’s reality. Online and omnichannel shopping will continue to pervade the retail world, particularly aligned to concerned shoppers with a reduced-contact mindset. Through this lens, the world will need an ecosystem of stores, online ordering, fulfillment, last mile delivery and supply chains that can execute flawlessly under any condition"... Article offers a summary of the varying mindsets now evolving.

Retailers Turn to Software, AI to Cut Costs, Right-Price
WSJ: "Supermarkets, sports stores and other retailers are putting software to work in efforts to lessen the impact of rising prices, with a growing number of stores adopting artificial-intelligence tools designed to manage price increases in a way that won’t chase shoppers away.The tools include a range of emerging AI systems trained on large amounts of sales, pricing and customer data, which aim to provide a level of online and in-store intelligence unimaginable a decade ago, retailers, software makers and market analysts say... Some 33% of 606 U.S. businesses recently told pollster 451 Research that they are raising prices, while just 4% said they are cutting them. About 44% of retailers said they were increasing prices, the biggest share of any sector, according to the polling company, which is a unit of financial data firm S&P Global Market Intelligence"...
Wall St Journal (paywall)


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