NEWS ROUNDUP 

What’s been going on…

James Evelegh’s roundup of some of the news stories that caught his eye over the last couple of months.

By James Evelegh

What’s been going on…
Bedtime reading…

Crime pays

In March, a new magazine from Bauer Media about very bad people and what they’ve been getting up to, hit the newsstands. The launch cover of Crime Monthly featured three killers (all male), four victims (all female) and a forensic scientist (female).

Rob Munro-Hall, group managing director: “Fascination in real-life crimes is exploding on all platforms, and we’re excited to be the first publisher to take advantage of this new opportunity.”

We are indeed fascinated, but I wonder if 76 pages of back-to-back real-death torment and depravity might be a bit much for your average armchair sleuth, although I do see considerable copy placement potential in Wormwood Scrubs, Broadmoor et al.

Elsewhere in launch-land, Newsquest proved that having no journalists is no barrier to launching new regional newspapers. In February, they launched two new ones: an Amersham, Chesham and Little Chalfont edition of the Bucks Free Press and the Harlow Guardian. Both new titles replace newspapers closed by Reach (formerly Trinity Mirror). Infilling areas vacated by rival publishers is a perfectly logical, if opportunistic, launch strategy. Presumably, if you want to know where Newsquest will launch next, keep an eye on the announcements page at reachplc.com.

Another launch that caught the eye was new lifestyle website Inspiralist from DC Thomson Media, if for no other reason than the impressive breadth of its ambition. “From interior design to parenting and pets, in-depth guides to what’s trending, Inspiralist is your destination for everything you need in your home life”, proclaims the ‘about us’ page.

Ashleigh Gibbs, digital editor for Inspiralist, said, “Surfacing trending content has been at the heart of our digital content strategy for some time now. This new hub will take the cutting-edge technology we’ve successfully used on prior projects on a much bigger scale.”

The subject matter is limitless, so I hope DCT is putting enough oomph (human and tech) behind it to give it a decent chance of success.

The Brits are coming

There have been a couple of recent high-profile US acquisitions by UK publishers.

Dennis Publishing acquired the Kiplinger portfolio of finance titles. Its brands include Kiplinger Letter, Kiplinger Tax Letter and Kiplinger’s Retirement Report. They also publish a personal finance title, called – wait for it – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

James Tye, Group CEO of Dennis: “Kiplinger is everything we look for in a business: It is blessed with strong brands that have developed a high degree of trust with their readers, allied to a vibrant, growing digital business… It expands our presence into the finance category… It is also a business with strong, recurring, subscription revenues.”

I imagine that last one was the clincher.

Haymarket’s US division has acquired the National Association for Continuing Education (NACE). Like recurring revenues, training and continuing professional development are hot ticket areas.

The Florida based company are specialists in continuing education programs for medical and mental health professionals.

“With their live meeting expertise, NACE will reinforce our position as a leading full-service provider of medical education,” said Lee Maniscalco, CEO of Haymarket Media, Inc. “As in-person CE activities remain an integral, and required, part of how clinicians learn, the acquisition of NACE will allow Haymarket to build upon the strengths of this educational format in unprecedented ways.”

Cairncross

Many in the industry broadly welcomed the findings of the Cairncross review, although in itself, it doesn’t change anything. It’s a point of reference which might inform future government policy.

In his analysis, the BBC’s media editor, Amol Rajan wrote: “What is most notable about her review is what it doesn't do. It doesn't suggest all social media should be regulated in the UK. It doesn't suggest social media companies pay for the privilege of using news content. It doesn't suggest social media companies be treated as publishers, with legal liability for all that appears on their platform.”

Giving the annual Hugh Cudlipp lecture, Evening Standard editor George Osborne acknowledged some useful recommendations, but said that the report “only scratches at the surface”.

“Establishing an institute,” he went on, “to funnel public funds into what they call ‘public interest news’ feels like a Pandora’s box that no one will want to open.”

Osborne advocates a more radical solution: namely creating a more level online playing field by giving consumers ownership of their data.

Blurred lines

In the media world, old boundaries are disappearing fast. Broadcasters are becoming publishers and publishers are becoming broadcasters.

At this year’s Oscars, Guardian documentary Black Sheep was nominated for an award. Ok, it was in one of those time-to-put-the-kettle-on categories (Documentary – Short Subject), but, hey, an Oscar’s an Oscar. The Guardian was rightly chuffed.

Black Sheep follows the story of Cornelius Walker whose mother moved him and his family out of London to Essex. Now living on a predominantly white estate run by racists, Cornelius became a target of extreme verbal and physical racial abuse. He decided to become more like the people who hated him. Dealing with questions of race and family identity, the film is a unique look at a young man’s struggle, says The Guardian.

Alas, it didn’t win. The Oscar went to Period. End of Sentence., a short film about a group of local women in Hapur, India, as they learn how to operate a machine that makes low-cost, biodegradable sanitary pads, which they sell to other women at affordable prices. If the Guardian was to lose to anyone, then I’m sure they would have been happy to lose to that one.

On the subject of awards, the winner of InPublishing’s very occasional ‘Left-field award’ goes to Foodism, a London food and drink magazine, for its new … beer.

They’ve joined up with Battersea-based Mondo Brewing Company and beer historian (now, that’s what I call a job) Ron Pattinson to launch a “collaborative” beer inspired by the former brewery the publisher is now based in.

The beer, called Parliament Light Bitter Ale, is a modern take on an ale that would have been made in The Plough Brewery on Wandsworth Road more than a century ago.

In case you’re interested, Parliament is brewed with Chevalier Heritage malt, flaked maize and Invert No 2 Sugar and then fermented with Whitbread yeast. It is bittered with Cluster hops from the US and makes use of East Kent Goldings and Fuggles hops for additional aroma and flavour. Cheers!

On closer inspection, it’s not quite as off the wall as it seems, because Foodism runs a Beer Club! Beer editor Tom Powell: “The Foodism Beer Club is all about connecting London’s beer lovers with the city’s vibrant brewing scene.” How could they not launch a beer.

Wot’s in a name

There seems to be a trend towards ever more exotic brand names in the publishing world. New on the scene are: Cirium, Wonderly and XEIM.

Cirium, from the team behind Flight Global, aims to be “the leader in data and analytics within aviation and the wider travel industry.” Fine, but why not ‘Flight Global Data’?

Christopher Flook, Cirium chief executive, explains: “The new name was chosen to deliberately steer clear of anything that locked us into any sector. However, while it had to be neutral, Cirium has associations with being in the cloud, being at high altitude, and working with data sets in the cloud that are always changing. It’s about bringing control to an industry that is constantly in motion.”

The thinking behind Wonderly, the enchanting new name for content marketing agency Haymarket Network, is easier to fathom. According to Haymarket, the name captures the spirit of the agency and the people who work there and derives from the feelings they aim to evoke when people experience their work.

Issie Peate, Wonderly MD: “This is not a name change for change’s sake. We’ve fundamentally reappraised the way we work and what we offer.”

In January, Centaur Media unveiled XEIM, the new name for the group’s marketing businesses. Umm…

The new name was derived, apparently, from “eXcellence In Marketing,” which XEIM helps its customers achieve. Wouldn’t that make it EXIM?

XEIM brings together Centaur’s marketing brands, including Marketing Week and Econsultancy, and will enable them, we are told, to offer enterprise clients a broader range of intelligence and consultancy services in an integrated and coordinated manner.

Andria Vidler, Centaur chief executive: “The launch of the XEIM network reinforces Centaur’s strengths in helping our clients to achieve excellence in marketing and highlights the digital transformation of our brands.”

Sounds very sensible. I just hope they don’t end up spending too much time having to explain or spell out their new name, or correct mispronunciations.

Treasure trove

Finally, with the regional press constantly under the spotlight for the wrong reasons, it is heartening to be able to report a good news story.

In March, the Express & Star unveiled its photo archive.

Around 3,000 images of the history of the industrial past of the Black Country and its surrounding areas have been preserved for future generations.

The project partnership was set up in 2008 by the Express & Star with Wolverhampton University and Wolverhampton City Archives to ensure the printed photos taken throughout the 20th Century were made available to the public.

Express & Star editor Martin Wright: “We are delighted that the first photos have been brought back to life for local people to revisit their shared history, all on a website made available for free. Some printed images are deteriorating over time so the preservation work is vital.”

Wolverhampton University’s Scott Knight: “This collection is a historical source and captures hundreds of personal stories about the changes in life for the region, making it valuable to local people, as well as students and academics.”

Photographic treasures such as these are just part of what makes the regional press so special. I just hope that people don’t leave it too long before they wake up and realise it.