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December 11, 2018

Publishing News

Time Picks Journalism's 'Guardians' As Person of the Year
On the Today show this morning, Time editor-in-chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal revealed 2018's Person of the Year: "The Guardians," a group of journalists "whose work has landed them in jail, or cost them their lives." In an essay about the choice published on the Today site (link to a longer essay and other content about the choice on Time's site is also below), he writes in part: "This year we are recognizing four journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment [of the "war against truth"]: Jamal Khashoggi (the Washington Post columnist murdered for his criticism of the Saudi crown prince); Maria Ressa (editor of a Philippine news website renowned for its critical coverage of its president’s controversially violent policies); Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (two Reuters journalists who were arrested in Myanmar while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims) and the staff of The Capital Gazette (the paper targeted by a gunman who opened fire into the newsroom, killing four journalists and a sales assistant). Time selected the group "for taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse, for speaking up and speaking out." The magazine said that the four individuals and the lone newspaper symbolize something bigger than themselves. “They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world — as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018 — who risk all to tell the story of our time,” Felsenthal wrote. The magazine also revealed four covers featuring the honorees. (full Person of the Year content)
Today (Felsenthal announcement essay)

B&N Campaign Promotes Booksellers' Expertise to Drive Holiday Traffic
Adweek: "Sometimes shopping online for holiday gifts seems like the easy way out, but when looking for something really special and personal, Barnes & Noble believes going to the store is essential to finding that perfect gift. That’s why the brand is recasting its booksellers as the all-knowing book lovers who can help you find the best gifts for everyone you need to shop for this year. B&N worked closely with Havas on the “Nobody Knows Books Like We Do” campaign, which includes four 15-second spots celebrating the brand’s 23,000 associates across the country. 'One of the things that is unique about Barnes & Noble as a shopping experience is interacting with their booksellers,' Tim Maleeny, Havas chief strategy officer, North America, said. 'They can not only help you navigate the store and find the perfect gift, but you know they are going to be totally passionate about whatever it is you are shopping for.' That’s why Havas really wanted to use the retailer’s holiday campaign to sell the employees who sell the products and the knowledge they posses about fandoms and series of all kinds. Two spots focus on Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, for example, while the other two 15-second ads feature Captain Underpants and the growing strategy game category (think The Settlers of Catan). In the end, the campaign aims to get people to brick-and-mortar B&N stores to do their shopping rather than purely online. That way, the brand highlights, shoppers can benefit from speaking with an expert--not relying on an algorithm to find a gift for a friend or family member. 'An algorithm is measuring what you like. You are actually shopping through a filter of your likes,' Harry Bernstein, CCO of Havas New York, said. 'When you go to the store, you are not being filtered by an algorithm—you are engaging with someone who understands those interests maybe even more than you do, and you actually get that better gift in the end.'" Article includes two embedded examples of the new ads.

British GQ Launching Free Digital Weekly
GQ's British edition has announced the launch of GQ Hype, a free digital weekly edition of the magazine. "Starting at 7 am every Monday morning, in addition to the digital and print magazine, GQ Hype will have its own cover and publish multiple new stories each day, every day, all week," writes editor Dylan Jones. "It's a rolling news feast of fashion, entertainment, video, politics, comment, sport, food, travel, grooming, fitness, wellbeing and all the other topics that occupy every aspect of our lives... another way for you to connect with the GQ brand. In truth, it was born from necessity. Over the last 12 months, the digital edition of the monthly magazine has become so popular that we have started publishing the app as soon as it is finished, rather than waiting for the print edition to arrive on shelves. It brought a massive uplift in response, meaning sales of our paid-for digital magazine are climbing at a faster rate than ever before... it made us realize there is an appetite for even more digital GQ content, delivered in a completely new way. And while our website continues, gratifyingly, to be extremely successful (growing this year by an average of 40%), we saw an opportunity to produce even more material, even more content. What's more, with our paid-for products doing so well, it's allowed us to start thinking about expanding our free content.Hence, GQ Hype. As well as continuing to offer daily updates on style, politics, entertainment, sport and current affairs, the new rhythm of GQ Hype will allow us to produce more interviews, more films, more digital-only fashion stories, more comment pieces, more long reads, more gift galleries, more grooming advice, more foreign reportage, more beautiful watch galleries and, well, more of everything. Every day, regular stories will form a new weekly magazine, a part work almost... there will be regular contributions from GQ’s star writers"...

Former Bloomberg Execs Among Dozens Indicted for Fraud
NY Post: "More than a dozen executives, including Bloomberg LP’s head of global facilities, were busted in a multimillion-dollar bribery and fraud scheme tied to construction projects, sources told The Post.Since-axed Anthony Guzzone and fellow former staffers at Turner Construction, which oversaw the building of interior office space at Bloomberg LP, are accused of conspiring to overcharge for work and bill for labor that was never performed.They then pocketed the proceeds, ripping off millions from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s financial services company.As many as 14 defendants will surrender to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office early Tuesday and be arraigned before Justice Roger Hayes, sources said.Two former Bloomberg LP staffers, including fired facilities director Marilyn Francisco, and ex-Turner executives Ron Olsen and Vito Nigro, are among those who will be arrested, sources said.Subcontractors and vendors are accused of paying bribes and kickbacks to the crooked executives to score projects from 2013 to 2017.

More On: How Kalmbach Is Tackling Reinvention
FIPP: "In the year since new CEO Dan Hickey helmed suburban Milwaukee-based Kalmbach Media, he has been focused on the rapid transformation of the company from a traditional print publisher into a provider of high-quality media and related services for modern enthusiast audiences. Hickey was appointed CEO at Kalmbach Media in October 2017, an executive with 25 years in media leadership roles, formerly at National Geographic Partners, Tribune Publishing, Meredith Corp. and Telegraph Media Group among others. Hickey, who has a track record of digital innovation and media business transformations, is continuing with a reinvention of the 83-year-old company. Strategically, Hickey has been focused in his first year on deepening Kalmbach's growth in e-commerce, consumer events, digital video and other digital media. 'This has been a year of re-invention for Kalmbach,' Hickey said... The company, which publishes 13 special-interest magazines--including Discover, Astronomy, Model Railroader and Trains--and produces related books, websites and events, revealed new branding earlier this year--from Kalmbach Publishing to Kalmbach Media--to reflect this shift. Lately, Kalmbach has focused on exponential growth and transformation of its science group, with a brand-driven multi-platform approach that leverages new forms of collaboration. 'Our overarching goal is to deepen and grow the relationships we have with our passionate enthusiast audiences, including our science enthusiast audience,' said Steve George, Kalmbach’s VP, content. In November, Kalmbach announced its next steps in the growth of its science strategy, which includes re-entering the national advertising market; forming the Discover Media Lab, a science-focused content studio; and establishing a new international licensing partnership. 'We've noticed that science in general as a category is growing,' explained Tim Paulson, general manager for science brands at Kalmbach. 'We feel, with a brand like Discover, working in concert in many cases with Astronomy, that we could do a lot of good in the marketplace by helping people understand science in new ways, reaching new audiences, and helping brands do the same'... According to MPA’s 2016/2017 Magazine Media Factbook measuring consumer demand for magazine media brands, audience demand for science and media grew 11.9% between 2014 and 2015... Kalmbach's new custom-media content studio, the Discover Media Lab, is headed by Dennis Liu. Discover magazine’s legacy taps into a hunger in the marketplace for fact-based science storytelling, Paulson said... Another area of investment: a partnership with Barista Media, to enter the U.S. national advertising market. 'Collaborating with Barista Media has been really important,' Paulson said. 'We looked at the marketplace and science as a phenomenon in our culture, and said, why can't our science titles get back into the national advertising market and help brands there bump up their stories against really great science storytelling.' Kalmbach has also retained Cue Ball to internationally license Discover content. Discover, as a brand, has the legacy and credibility to expand beyond borders. 'We're very excited about the potential to licensing the brand in multiple ways, and in more emerging markets, where the need for science from an educational point of view and a consumer point of view, we think Discover could assist,' Paulson said. 'We feel that Discover, as a brand in particular, has potential to do that even more'... Taking a multi-platform, brand-driven approach to engage the market, has meant that Kalmbach has also taken a deep look at how it operates internally. 'One of the other things we're trying to do is break down silos, and get editors, sales people, marketers to collaborate more around these stories we want to tell,' Paulson explained. 'Any time you make some changes around that level, there are some shifts. If you have ambition to do something new in the world, you have to look at how you operate internally.'"

Study: Social Surpasses Newspapers as News Soruce
AP: "A survey says Americans today are more likely to get news from social media web sites than newspapers. The Pew Research Center said Monday that 20% of Americans cited social media as a frequent news source, compared to 16% who credited newspapers. It’s the first time since Pew has found sites like Facebook and Twitter outpacing newspapers. Pew has been asking about news consumption, with a slight change in wording, since 1991. That year, 56% of Americans said newspapers when asked where they had gotten their news yesterday.The survey also found that 81% of people aged 65 and over often get news from television, compared to only 16% of people aged 18 to 29"...

What Happens If Ingram and B&T Tie the Knot?
PW: "Although Ingram Content Group’s possible purchase of the retail trade wholesaling division of Baker & Taylor is far from a done deal, booksellers and publishers alike expressed concerns about the possible loss of another wholesale and distribution option. According to sources, Ingram made a tentative offer for B&T’s retail trade business about a month ago, at which point one or both of the companies asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a preliminary look at whether such a deal could be approved. As part of what has been termed by sources as a “very preliminary” investigation, the FTC met with the bookstore chains, a group of independent booksellers, Amazon, and a number of major publishers to gauge their reactions to such a deal. It does not appear that the FTC reached out to anyone in the library market. Follett bought B&T, along with BookMasters, in April 2016—a move that raised some industry alarms about consolidation in the wholesale space. To allay those fears, Follett has kept B&T as a separate operating unit. It has, however, provided the company with resources to grow.In August 2016, Follett backed the creation of Global Publishers Services, an international sales and marketing services group headed by Chitra Bopardikar, and launched Baker & Taylor Publishers Services in October 2016, headed by Mark Suchomel. Even with those investments, B&T’s strength remains in the library market, which is a better fit with Follett’s core businesses (which provide technology, services, and print and digital content to pre-K–12 libraries, schools, and higher education institutions) than the trade.For its part, while Ingram has worked to grow its library business, its strength is in trade wholesaling, and it is also the largest distributor of independent presses.Given the respective strengths and weaknesses of Ingram and B&T, industry insiders concede that the proposed transaction makes strategic sense for both companies. Nevertheless, booksellers and publishers would like more wholesaling and distribution options. If Ingram took over the B&T retail arm, it would result in there being only one national wholesaler and a handful of regional players such as Bookazine and American West Books, which specialize in servicing bookstores and other trade accounts.That scenario does not appeal to ABA CEO Oren Teicher, who called the competitive national wholesaling environment for retail bookstores 'a very significant factor in the success and growth of the independent channel.' Saying that no one knows for sure what may happen between Ingram and B&T, he added that the ABA “continues to be extremely concerned about the prospect of there being only one national wholesale option for retail bookstores,' noting that 'at the appropriate time, ABA will certainly communicate our serious concerns to the FTC, Congress, and all other concerned parties'"...

Facebook to Host 1-Day Privacy Info Kiosk in Midtown Manhattan
NY Post: "Sorry about sharing your Facebook data. How about a cup of hot chocolate?Mark Zuckerberg’s social network plans to open a pop-up kiosk on Dec. 13 in Midtown Manhattan, where it will field questions about its data-sharing practices and teach users how to understand its new privacy controls... Visitors to the kiosk, to be located next to Bryant Park’s Holiday Market, will be able to stop by without an appointment, speak with Facebook employees and drink free hot chocolate.Facebook users who aren’t able to visit Bryant Park on Thursday between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., however, are out of luck — the event is a one-day affair.Asked by The Post whether Facebook would be making a nationwide effort to highlight its privacy tools, Barnes said only that the privacy page on Facebook’s site is available to all users.The Bryant Park pop-up is the first-ever event of this kind in the US, and comes following numerous scandals that have kneecapped the company in recent months"...

Opinion: Facebook Updates Instant Articles, Adds Pubs To Sub Test
In MediaPost, contributing editor Rob Williams writes: "Anytime I see statements from Facebook executives saying 'we care about journalism,' I just have to laugh.... A recent Facebook blog post about an update to its software tools for publishers aroused my suspicions, although most of the information looks innocuous... After all, Facebook has collected vast amounts of personal information, learning more about people than they likely know themselves. The company has tested ways to manipulate people’s moods or to affect their voting behavior. It also shared information with third parties without the informed consent of users, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal made public.Publisher suspicions toward the social network were aroused following reports that Campbell Brown, former NBC News correspondent and CNN host who leads news partnerships at Facebook, told a group of publishers that CEO Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about publishers... Facebook was built on abundant, freely provided user-generated content. Why should it have to pay for content?... 'We care about supporting quality journalism on Facebook,” begins a Dec. 6 blog post from Sameera Salari, a product manager at the company.She goes on to describe updates to Facebook’s Instant Articles, which were first developed in 2015 to help news publishers post quick-loading stories on the social network. Facebook redesigned its platform to make it more accessible to publishers and cut their development time by 75%, or from four to eight weeks to one to two weeks.The company also integrated the Instant Articles paywall with third-party paywall providers, such as Piano, to make it easier for media companies to implement.Salari noted that Facebook added a welcome screen to urge new subscribers to follow a publisher and see more of its content in the Facebook’s news feed. The welcome screen boosted the percentage of new subscribers who follow the publisher's page from 54% to 94%. That higher engagement increased the articles read by subscribers on Facebook by 40%, Salari said.Facebook is testing a feature that lets publishers create posts targeted to their subscribers; it seeks to provide more relevant analytics information for publishers.Facebook also added more publications to its test of Instant Articles subscriptions... While Facebook is taking steps to appeal to a wider group of publishers, those companies still need to be careful about growing too dependent on the social network for traffic. Facebook can easily tweak its news algorithms that determine what users see, resulting in a devastating effect on publishers.If the past year of digital disruptions is any indication, publishers need to develop diverse sources of revenue to defray risk and build a more solid business."


Retail News

Retailers Look to Payment Apps to Reduce Transaction Fees
MNB cites a Bloomberg report that "a number of retailers hope that the use of payment apps, similar to those implemented by Starbucks and Walmart, will help them 'escape the clutches of the credit-card companies, which this year will levy more than $90B in swipe fees on an industry already struggling to navigate the shift online... While shoppers have largely shunned mobile payments offered by third-party providers like Apple Inc., retailers are trying to persuade customers to embrace the technology by dangling discounts and other perks. Several chains, including Walmart Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Kohl’s Corp., have had some success by baking the apps into their loyalty programs--and more than half of companies surveyed recently by the National Retail Federation said they’ve implemented ‘branded digital wallets’ or are considering it. Besides cutting out the credit-card companies, in-house payment systems enable retailers to collect more data on their customers.' And here’s how it works: 'Retailers are increasingly bypassing Visa and Mastercard by tapping into the Automated Clearing House network, which was set up by U.S. banks more than 40 years ago to replace checks and send money electronically between bank accounts around the country. Consumers and businesses now send nearly $50 trillion each year over the network, vs. the roughly $15 trillion sent over Visa’s and Mastercard’s networks… In other cases, retailers still rely on Visa and Mastercard’s networks but find ways to minimize the swipe fees. Starbucks’s mobile app encourages users to load funds onto a prepaid gift card. That means Starbucks only has to pay swipe fees when users send the funds to the card, not each time they buy a cup of coffee. The payment app now represents 14% of the coffee chain’s transactions.'"

Rouses Buys 3 Frank's Stores
Winsight: "In the latest display of its ongoing expansion, Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses Markets has acquired three of four Frank’s Supermarkets locations from the LeBoeuf family.Rouses is acquiring Frank's stores in Golden Meadow, Larose and Lockport, La., the latter two of which will be converted to the Rouses banner by late January. Rouses will purchase the inventory of Frank’s Lockport, La., store, and said it plans to close the store Dec. 15 because of its proximity to an existing Rouses Market. Frank’s owners will retain its store in Des Allemands, La... Rouses Markets, which has stores in Louisiana, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in lower Alabama, opened its 58th location in late September in Covington, La. The regional grocery chain has new stores in the pipeline in New Iberia, La., and Daphne, Ala., which will open in the first part of 2019"...

Peapod Survey: Consumers Intend to Spend More on At-Home Food
PG: "While recent years have shown Americans spending more money dining out than on groceries, next year is expected to reveal more consumers returning to the kitchen, if end-of-year intentions have anything to say about it. According to a new report from Ahold Delhaize's home-delivered online-ordered groceries service Peapod, 77% of respondents to a recent survey said that they'd rather eat a homemade meal than go out for dinner. What's more, they're planning to make good on this in the new year: 43% overall, and 59% of millennials, intend to cook more in 2019"...

C-Store Study: Employee Engagement Key to DrivingResults
In MNB, Michael Sansolo cites findings from a new NACS/Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council study on the importance of building employee engagement. "Although it was geared to convenience operators, it has merit for any type of business, retail or not. The study gauges the impact of highly engaged staffers and examines the simple steps necessary to build that engagement. The premise is simple: engaged staffers produce higher sales, profits and customer loyalty. What’s more, those same engaged staffers have far lower turnover rates, so the power of engagement is a win in multiple ways. The steps to build that engagement are both simple and highly complex. It basically comes down to improved training of store level managers so they learn to interact, listen to and communicate with staff better than ever. That’s not so easy, but when the benefits are so clear and important it’s the task that simply needs to get done. One of the great strengths of Amazon is how the site guides every purchaser to additional items no matter what you are buying. That creates impulse purchases, bigger shopping baskets and, no doubt, higher profits." Link to download study is below.

Walmart Tests Burger-Flipping Robot
Yahoo: "Walmart is testing a burger-flipping robot.Flippy, a robot developed by Miso Robotics to act as a kitchen assistant, is now being tested in Walmart's Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, Yahoo Finance reports. Flippy — which can grill 150 burger patties an hour— currently costs between $60,000 and $100,000.While Flippy is only being tested at Walmart's headquarters now, the robot could begin taking over some repetitive tasks in Walmart delis' kitchens if the test goes well. Flippy is intended to act as an autonomous arm, moving chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks into the correct fryer, evenly cooking them, and then removing the basket of fried food from the hot oil. The Flippy test comes at a time when Walmart is increasingly using robots to complete tasks traditionally done by human workers.Walmart plans to deploy a floor-scrubbing robot— already in use at more than 70 stores — to more than 360 US stores. The retailer is also testing automated robotic carts that can pick and pack shoppers' online grocery orders"...

Trump Report Proposes Selling Access to Private Mailboxes
WSJ: "Looking for ways to raise Postal Service revenue, the Trump administration has proposed a fundamental change to your mailbox: selling access to it to private companies.The Postal Service could capitalize on a “highly valuable” asset by selling mailbox access to companies such as FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., the administration said in a report last week... It is illegal for anyone except a Postal Service mail carrier to deliver to a mailbox, a restriction established in 1934 to crack down on attempts to avoid paying postage. Such limited access protects customers from theft and preserves their privacy, last week’s report noted... The report notes that revenue could be raised by retaining the mailbox monopoly but allowing regulated access, for a fee, to certified private companies. These “franchisees” would be granted access to the mailbox for the delivery of mail and small parcels, according to the report"...
Wall St. Journal (paid sub req.)

Empire Completes Buy of Farm Boy Stores
SN: "Empire Company Ltd., the parent of Sobeys Inc., has finalized its C$800M deal to buy fellow Canadian grocer Farm Boy. Ottawa-based Farm Boy operates 26 stores in southeastern Ontario. The retailer specializes in local fresh produce and meat, offers a wide range of ready-to-eat food prepared in-store and features a strong private label program"...


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