Welcome to the latest edition of Ad Age Publisher’s Brief, our roundup of news from the world of content producers across digital and print. Got a tip? Send it our way. Joining us late? Here’s the previous edition.
There’s a tradition in the media world that when a property changes hands, the buyer publicly says things like “We’re honored to be taking stewardship of this iconic publication” and the seller says something along the lines of “We’re pleased to have found the perfect new home for the brand and its dedicated team.”
Such niceties were conspicuously lacking in The New York Times account of the sale (for an undisclosed sum) of Condé Nast’s Brides magazine to Dotdash, part of Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp. The news was apparently handed on embargo to the paper, which came out with an 18-paragraph story by Tiffany Hsu at 8:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday—five minutes before a joint press release from Dotdash and Condé was published. (A version of Hsu’s piece also appears in today’s NYT print edition.) But despite that attempt at engineering positive coverage, the defining moment in the Times story came in the form of a downer of a quote in the third paragraph:
“It wasn’t like there was crazy bidding at the end,” said Neil Vogel, the head of Dotdash, which is part of InterActiveCorp (IAC), the company behind Tinder, Match and OKCupid. “It’s clear to us that there wasn’t a ton of investment behind this in the last few years.”
So, Neil, it sounds you got a great deal on an unwanted brand that the previous owner was neglecting. Sweet!
Meanwhile, Condé didn’t even rate a quote in the story—though Vogel, who says he’s shutting down the print edition of Brides to go digital-only, did get to crow about rising revenues at Dotdash and close out the Times coverage with an actual money quote:
“We’re capitalists,” Mr. Vogel said. “We like money, and we like selling ads.”
Granted, the two companies’ joint statement did include the usual puffery—Vogel had a canned quote about the “historical excellence and incredible reputation of the Brides brand," while Brides General Manager Lisa Gooder said “We are thrilled that Brides has been acquired by a strong digital content leader”—but nobody cares, right? Or at least The New York Times doesn’t. Which, frankly, is kind of refreshing for the Times.
In “Where did Jimmy Cohen get the money to buy AMI’s National Enquirer?,” the New York Post’s Keith Kelly takes a closer look at the recent sale by American Media Inc. of its National Enquirer tabloid to Cohen, the son of the founder of the Hudson News chain that sells magazines, newspapers and snacks at airports and other transit hubs. The key quote in the story:
“This deal does not feel like a real transaction,” said one industry veteran. “It feels like a ‘parked’ transaction” in which Cohen takes over the company as a favor to his pal, AMI chief David Pecker.
Cohen told Kelly (in a text message) that “Financing is fully in place and is not an issue,” but he couldn’t talk about it because of a confidentiality agreement.
Quick reminder: Logically speaking, nobody should be wanting to buy the National Enquirer. As I noted in this space in April, not only is it ensnared in scandals that are expensive to defend against, but its circulation has nosedived over the years.
Antisocial media: “Instagram queen Selena Gomez says ‘social media has been terrible’ for millennials,” per Marketwatch.
Beto boredom: “‘You have to have a plan to deal with them’: How the media fell out of love with Beto O’Rourke,” per Vanity Fair.
Time is out with its “Next Generation Leaders” package (subhead: “From a refugee boxer to a prolific YouTuber, meet 10 young people forging new paths in politics, music and more”), which includes actor Tessa Thompson and activist Greta Thunberg, whose split covers (below) were shared by the newsweekly on social media this morning. See the full package here.