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November 23, 2020

Publishing News

NYT Accuses Time Mag of Infringing 'Times Talks' Trademark
Bloomberg Law: "The publisher of Time Magazine’s “Time100 Talks” infringes the New York Times Co.‘s “Times Talks” trademark covering similar conversation events between journalists and leading thinkers, according to a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court Friday. The New York Times told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that it launched its Times Talks series in 1999, featuring conversations between New York Times journalists and “newsmakers of all types.” According to the complaint, Time USA LLC launched its similar Time100 Talks series in April. Time’s series features the same types of celebrities featured in Times Talks"...
Bloomberg Law (paid sub req.)

Is Magazines' Diversity Push for Real?
In Poynter, Samir Husni writes: "Blackness exploded on the covers of magazines during the middle months of 2020. But is it hypocrisy? A performative act so that those magazines can profit from the pain of Black people, as one editor told me? Or is it a genuine change, as I heard from another? And if it is genuine, why do some magazine editors and PR directors not want to talk about the sea change that has taken place in the industry?... Andréa Butler, editor-in-chief and publisher of Sesi Magazine, a publication for Black teenagers, is not convinced that this change is genuine... “A lot of these magazines are close to 100 years old, or at least 50, and they’re like, ‘Oh look, Black people exist now,’” Butler said... Doug Olson, president of Meredith Magazines, is adamant that anytime you can strengthen your audience and practice inclusion, it is a good thing and it only grows your business. He said that Meredith has been doing that for some time now, albeit like other magazine companies, he thinks they still have work to do. “Actually, I think there are two ways to look at it. No. 1, taking a brand or a platform and going after a new audience or a new community. And No. 2, new brands and products and services aimed at a specific community. I think we’ve done both. And we’ll continue to look at both,” Olson said. Shona Pinnock, Meredith’s director of diversity and inclusion, said she thinks the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and many others have emotionally exhausted many Black people, including herself, and have left them numb. That is why she said she is determined to drive meaningful change both inside her company and in the content delivered to their massive audiences. Not talking about these things, she said, is not the healthy alternative. “What I’ve experienced is there is an apprehension for a lot of white colleagues to even really speak about race, because it’s so hot,” Pinnock said. “They don’t want to say the wrong thing, so maybe that’s why they avoid the conversation. Maybe they don’t feel equipped to really articulate it in a way where they don’t feel like they’re offending someone. That’s sort of my theory on that. But I also think it’s quite telling of how sometimes people think there is no such thing as systemic racism and that it doesn’t exist. So when you see this influx of all of these Black people on the covers of magazines lately,” she said, “it’s obvious that we hadn’t been included before this point. And that’s why this seems remarkable because we had been erased for so many years.” At Hearst’s Marie Claire, newly appointed editor-in-chief Sally Holmes told me that, in her mind, the focus on diversity isn’t a trend — it’s a permanent shift. “Something everyone constantly strives to be better at and it is here to stay,” Holmes stressed"...

Google to Drop Benefits for Publishers Using AMP Format
The Markup: "Four years after offering special placement in a “top stories carousel” in search results to entice publishers to use a format it created for mobile pages, called AMP, Google announced last week that it will end that preferential treatment in the spring. “We will prioritize pages with great page experience, whether implemented using AMP or any other web technology, as we rank the results,” Google said in a blog post. The company had indicated in 2018 that it would drop the preference eventually. Last week’s announcement of a concrete timeline comes less than a month after the Department of Justice called Google a “monopoly gatekeeper to the internet” in a lawsuit alleging antitrust violations and as pressure mounts on officials in the European Union, which has already fined Google more than $9B for antitrust violations. “I did always think AMP posed antitrust concerns,” said Sally Hubbard, author of the book “Monopolies Suck” and an antitrust expert with the Open Markets Institute. “It’s, ‘If you want to show up on the top of the search results, you have to play by our rules, you have to use AMP.’ Google spokesperson Meghann Farnsworth did not address the timing of the change but said AMP is not dead, saying the company is “fully committed to AMP as a technology.” She said AMP continues to be required for certain features that “are not technically possible” without it, such as “swipe to visit” in Google Images, and that it’s “preferred” in the “for you” feed in Google’s news reading app, Google Discover. Whatever prompted the timing of the change, some news sites are relieved that they won’t have to keep using Google’s preferred mobile standard. “We are encouraged to see Google beginning to outline a path away from AMP,” Robin Berjon, head of data governance at The New York Times said... “It’s important Google addresses the core challenge with the format, so that it is no longer a requirement for news products and performance ranking.” News publishers and others have been griping about AMP for years. Some called it Google’s attempt to exert the same kind of control over the larger web that Facebook exerts over posts in its closed system. That’s because AMP is more than just a set of formatting rules. Once a website sets up an AMP page, Google copies it and stores it on Google servers. When users click on the link for an AMP page in search results—or its news reading app—Google serves up that cached version from its servers. “AMP keeps users within Google’s domain and diverts traffic away from other websites for the benefit of Google,” read a 2018 open letter signed by more than 700 technologists and advocates. “At a scale of billions of users, this has the effect of further reinforcing Google’s dominance of the Web. ”Nearly nine in 10 internet searches in the U.S. are completed on Google, according Statcounter. The second most popular search engine, Microsoft’s Bing, has only seven percent of the market, less than one in 10 U.S. searches"...

How 'COVID Effect' Drives Reader Willingness To Pay For News
MediaPost's Rob Williams writes: "Some 30% of Americans said they're willing to pay for well-researched and reliable news after the pandemic, according to a survey by consulting firm Altman Solon published today. That willingness is more pronounced among young adults, with 53% of people ages 18 to 24 saying they're interesting in paying for news, compared with only 15% of those 55 or older. "This 'COVID effect' on news appears to be durable, as 82% of Americans expect to continue to pay for news after pandemic restrictions are lifted," according to Altman Solon. The finding bolsters other research, including several studies by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism that have indicated more publishers are adding paywalls — and a growing portion of readers are willing to pay for news. Unfortunately, trust in the news media has declined amid the political polarization that has inspired journalists to see themselves as part of an ideological movement, rather than seekers of facts. 54% of Americans said they believe reporters intentionally misrepresent facts, while 28% believe reporters make the facts up entirely, according to a study by Gallup and the Knight Foundation. Consumer trust in advertising has fallen since the pandemic began, but print ads have held up pretty well -- which is something that salespeople at publishers should point out to marketers and media buyers. Asked how much they trust ads associated with news content, Americans expressed a negative opinion about every media channel, according to Altman Solon. Ads on social media were viewed least trustworthy with a net perception level of -39%, worse than ads on out-of-home and billboards at -23%, podcasts at -22%, online news at -14% and radio at -13%. By comparison, print and TV ads were the only sources with a net trust rating better than -10%, the study found. A positive trust rating would be better for publishers. After all, no one wants to brag they were the smartest kid in summer school. However, creating a brand-safe environment that cultivates consumer trust should be a goal for every publisher."


Retail News

26M to Lose Jobless Aid After Christmas
USA Today: "As coronavirus cases surge to records, dealing another blow to the nation’s health and economy, the federal safety net that propped up financially battered households is set to vanish unless a divided Congress can break a months-long impasse. At the end of the year, millions of unemployed Americans will lose jobless benefits. Tenants can be evicted from their apartments. People with student debt will have to resume payments. Small businesses will lose a critical financial lifeline. President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and a new Congress are likely to reinstate most or all of the relief programs, analysts said, but their interruption could disrupt lives and cause additional financial heartache during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression"...

Walmart Reopens Chicago Supercenters
SN: "As part of its commitment to the city of Chicago after a turbulent year of unrest that led to the closing of area Supercenters, Walmart on Friday reopened two remodeled sites that include adjacent new Walmart Health centers. “Since a wave of civil unrest shook the nation in June, we’ve been listening intently to the citizens of Chicago,” said Keith Wyche, VP community engagement & support at Walmart... “And we’re making changes we’re proud of, to reflect the nature of a community we want to do more than just exist in"... The two reopened sites are located in the neighborhoods of Chatham and Austin. The two new Walmart Health centers are part of the company's commitment to Chicago to rebuild and reopen four supercenters with an expanded offering of services, including Walmart Academies for associate training and ongoing learning. The other supercenters to be reopened are located at 4626 W. Diversey Ave. and 10900 S. Doty Ave. The remodels of these four locations include several department transformations that will help customers save time and money. The upgrades also complement the measures the company has taken in its U.S. stores to help protect associates and customers from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic"...

Walmart Acquires Last-Mile Startup Assets
Grocery Dive: "Walmart plans to acquire assets, including talent, technology and intellectual property, from JoyRun, a startup that runs a peer-to-peer last-mile delivery service, according to a LinkedIn post by Srini Venkatesan, executive vice president at Walmart Global Tech. The deal is set to close “in the coming weeks,” according to the post, and JoyRun employees will be part of Walmart’s supply chain technology team.JoyRun facilitates the delivery of restaurant, grocery and other orders between community members, with users able to request items and have them filled by a friend or neighbor for free or for a set fee. The company has 540 merchant partners and more than 30,000 people have delivered orders since it launched in 2015. Walmart continues to build out its last-mile technology as it launches autonomous vehicle pilots, signs on with additional third-party delivery firms and expands its delivery, including express services, to more stores"...

Natural Grocers Breaks $1B in Annual Sales
SN: "In fiscal 2020, sales at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage reached $1 billion for the first time. "We faced many challenges and opportunities in fiscal 2020, and our response resulted in a record performance including achieving over $1B net sales and 89 cents in diluted earnings per share," Natural Grocers Co-president Kemper Isely said during the Thursday afternoon conference call... Isely also announced that shareholders will receive a special dividend of $2 per share, on top of the usual $0.07 dividend for Q4... CFO Todd Dissinger said transaction size in Q4 increased 23.7% but the number of transactions fell 8.5%. For the quarter, comparable store sales increased 13.2%"...

Deloitte: More Consumers Will Shop Online Than In-Store on Black Friday
Release: This year's Deloitte holiday survey finds consumers will spend an average of $401 during the Thanksgiving period (Thursday, Nov. 26 – Monday, Nov. 30). For the Thanksgiving period, the YoY share of in-store spend is projected to decline to 37% (down from 43% in 2019), while share of online spend is likely to increase to 62% (up from 53% in 2019). Shoppers plan to spend 38% of their budget in-store and 62% online this year. For the first time since the survey's inception, more consumers plan to shop online (61%) than in-store (54%) on Black Friday. Of the consumers that plan to shop during the Thanksgiving period, 95% will shop online. Nearly one-third of consumers plan to shop fewer days this season, with concerns about COVID-19 cited as the main reason (63%). Throughout the course of the Thanksgiving period, 75% of survey respondents said COVID-19 safety precautions are important when choosing a retailer. Mass merchants (61%) and online retailers (54%) dominate as the top destinations for shoppers as consumers prioritize safety and deals. Social traditions and the way shoppers are purchasing gifts are different, however, spending on gift items such as clothing (66%), electronics (49%) and toys (52%) remains steady."

Instacart Goes Big Ticket With Best Buy Partnership
SN: "Online grocery delivery giant Instacart has continued its expansion beyond food retail through a partnership with consumer electronics chain Best Buy. San Francisco-based Instacart said this week that it offers same-day delivery of electronics and other technology products — including laptops, televisions, home office essentials, headphones, tablets, gaming, smartwatches, streaming media players, small appliances and other items — from nearly all of Best Buy’s 1,000-plus stores in 50 states and the District of Columbia. With the addition of Best Buy to its retail partner base, Instacart introduced Certified Delivery, a new feature designed to give customers and personal shoppers an easier way to track and confirm the delivery big-ticket items. Through Certified Delivery, Best Buy customers must acknowledge receipt of high-value products by signing for them upon delivery directly in the Instacart mobile app, which Instacart said ensures a “seamless hand-off from the store to their door""...

Home Depot, Starbucks Up Pay
RetailWire: "Home Depot and Starbucks announced plans to increase regular wages for associates. A potential hike in the federal minimum wage, recruiting benefits and hazard-pay reparation for working during the pandemic were cited as possible underlying factors driving the increases.Home Depot said last week it planned to invest $1 billion annually on increased worker benefits while reporting third-quarter comps surged 24 percent amid a housing boom.“We continue to lean into these investments because we believe they are critical in enabling market share growth in any economic environment,” CEO Craig Menear said in a statement. Starbucks plans to give nearly all U.S. employees raises of at least 10% in mid-December. The hikes were revealed in an internal memo sent Nov. 2, the day before the presidential election, according to Business Insider. “This announcement is the next phase of our commitment to ensuring the well-being of partners [employees] with one of the most significant investments to hourly pay in the U.S. in the history of the company,” Starbucks said... Multiple petitions have circulated online demanding Starbucks raise starting pay to $15 per hour as employees have been forced to adapt to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Many retailers have faced criticism for ending the temporary wage hikes and bonuses paid out early in the pandemic. Target and Best Buy also increased their minimum hourly pay to at least $15 an hour this summer amid overall calls to raise minimum wage rates. Florida recently voted to increase its wage floor over the next six years until it reaches $15 an hour. President-elect Joe Biden has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2026, up from the current $7.25, although a Republican-controlled Senate, if it becomes a reality, is likely to fight an increase"...

Fred Meyer to Have OnPoint Community Credit Union Locations
PG: "Fred Meyer, a banner of The Kroger Co., will have 20 OnPoint Community Credit Union branches open within 20 of the retail chain’s stores in Oregon and southwest Washington in 2021. This move represents the largest branch expansion in OnPoint’s history. Oregon’s largest credit union, Portland-based OnPoint now operates 36 branches, with four locations having opened in 2020 alone, and serves 415,000-plus members"...


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