OFF THE TOP

You might have heard: The Baltimore Sun purchased by Sinclair’s David D. Smith (The Baltimore Sun) 

But did you know: New Baltimore Sun owner insults staff in meeting, says paper should mimic Fox45 (The Baltimore Banner)

David Smith, the new owner of The Baltimore Sun, held a tense three-hour meeting with staff on Tuesday in which he stood by previous comments he’d made that print media is “so left-wing as to be meaningless dribble.” He acknowledged paying at least $100 million for a paper he had only read four times, and was noncommittal about the continuation of the print product as well as the retention of staff. He also said that he wanted the paper to emulate his local Sinclair station, which conducts regular, unscientific polls to engage reader interest, saying that he expects the Sun to conduct daily polls on its website. 

+ Related: The Baltimore Sun explores the question of whether there can be a worse newspaper owner than Alden Global Capital (Nieman Lab); Alden finds a formula to make money two ways on the sale of The Baltimore Sun (Poynter) 

+ Noted: New CNN boss shakes up news operations, explores digital subscription model (The Wall Street Journal); Star-Advertiser owner restructuring, sale of company in the works (Honolulu Star-Advertiser); Page Six’s video studio launch separates it from the NY Post (AdWeek); Condé Nast announces that Pitchfork is being moved under GQ (X, @maxwelltani) 

API UPDATE

Grow your audience, repurpose content and increase brand awareness with city guides (Better News) 

Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: A first impression is important, and these strategies for city guides from Knox News can help turn newcomers into lifelong subscribers. 

Enter, Knoxpedia. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a free digital guide to all things Knoxville. It’s targeted at “new” Knoxvillians, which could mean a variety of things. It’s also designed for people entering new chapters in their lives that spur them to become more civically engaged.

First-time parent? There’s a section on schools and children’s issues. First-time voter? Knoxpedia tells you what’s on the ballot and how to register. Even for those just looking to make friends, there’s a section all about fun things to do in East Tennessee and connecting with others.

+ Build a loyal reader base by reviving ‘zombie’ subscribers: Disengagement isn’t easy to recover from, but carefully reconsidering content for target audiences might help. (Better News) 

Burnout remains a problem. journalists are helping each other cope. (NBCU Academy)

“Journalists are naturally cynical people, and there is a healthy level of cynicism, but there’s also an unhealthy burnout level of cynicism,” said Samantha Ragland, the American Press Institute’s VP of journalism programs. “And that puts up a wall between how a journalist can learn and from whom.” 

Ragland, who has developed and uses a curriculum for burned-out journalists, said one of the things that makes her sessions successful is that she taps into her experience as a journalist to engage her stressed-out colleagues. And she is not the only one helping fellow journalists with their burnout. 

+ TODAY: What journalists covering the 2024 election should know about burnout — A free webinar from API and the Atlanta Press Club on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 12 p.m. Eastern time. Register here. 

REVENUE ROUNDUP

How theSkimm plans to grow its new wellness newsletter to 1 million subscribers (Digiday)

TheSkimm’s wellness newsletter, Skimm Well, launched six months ago and already has 100,000 subscribers. The outlet plans to hit 1 million subscribers by the end of the year by continuing to work with existing wellness influencers. The newsletter was launched because wellness content had done well for the outlet on social and search. 

TRY THIS AT HOME

DW’s strategic approach to journalism on TikTok (The Fix) 

Deutsche Welle has crafted an engagement strategy on TikTok based on careful planning, adaptability and audience engagement. Since 2020, the organization has launched 17 TikTok channels on different topics in a variety of languages. All of the videos are between 60 and 90 seconds, and feature relatable hosts rather than traditional news anchors. Producers ensure that they are monitoring trends and including hashtags in their posts, as well as engaging with commenters and viewers. 

OFFSHORE

Young people are giving up on BBC News. A new podcast is helping try to get them back (Nieman Lab) 

Younger Britons are not turning to the BBC for their news anymore, but the publicly-funded organization’s charter requires that it “act in the public interest, serving all audiences.” So in order to attract a younger audience, the BBC has launched the Reliable Sauce podcast, a weekly conversation about current affairs. The topics are steered by audience comments on the BBC’s TikTok as well as comments on the co-hosts’ personal accounts. 

OFFBEAT

Google search really has gotten worse, researchers find (404 Media) 

A year-long study by German researchers has found that Google’s search results have been overtaken by low-quality, SEO-driven content. Pages that ranked high in results were “optimized,” included affiliate links, and had lower text quality. Spam sites are in a constant battle with Google’s algorithms, which are frequently updated in an attempt to remove poor-quality results. “Search engines seem to lose the cat-and-mouse game,” according to the report, and they predict that AI will make the result qualities even worse. 

SHAREABLE

Why Bill Ackman’s case against Business Insider is a fantasy (New York Magazine) 

Billionaire Bill Ackman was a proponent of removing former Harvard president Claudine Gay, partly due to allegations of plagiarism. But when his wife, former MIT researcher Neri Oxman, was accused of plagiarism by Business Insider, Ackman threatened to sue for defamation. Media attorney Edward Klaris says the lawsuit has no merit; Oxman would need to claim that the plagiarism accusations are false, but she has already admitted to plagiarism.