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January 20, 2021

Publishing News

Vogue to Print Limited 'Inauguration' Edition With Alternate Kamala Harris Cover
NY Daily News: "Under pressure from backlash over its choice of a casual cover photo of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, fashion bible Vogue will run a limited-edition print version of its digital cover, a more formal shot, in honor of the inauguration. In the digital cover, which the Harris team initially thought was to be the main print cover, the new Vice President stands in front of gold fabric backdrop, wearing a powder-blue Michael Kors Collection suit, her arms crossed, an American flag pin on her lapel. “In recognition of the enormous interest in the digital cover, and in celebration of this historic moment, we will be publishing a limited number of special-edition inauguration issues,” a Vogue spokesperson told WWD..."

Meredith Names New Chief Communications Officer
Release: Meredith Corp. has named Erica Jensen SVP and chief communications officer. "Jensen succeeds Art Slusark, who retired in November. Jensen will advise Chairman/CEO Tom Harty and Meredith's senior leadership team on communications strategies for the organization and will oversee all external and internal communications, crisis management, government relations, and environmental, social, and governance activities. She will report to Harty. Jensen currently serves as head of executive communications for Principal Financial Group. She has spent her career at the Fortune 250 financial services company, working her way up through the ranks. Jensen has extensive experience in executive and employee communications and in setting communications strategies for corporate initiatives, media relations, sponsorships and events, and engagement opportunities."

Report: Apple Plans Podcasting Subscription Service
MediaPost: "Apple Inc. is said to be planning a subscription service for podcasts as the audience grows for the audio format. The iPhone maker also would provide financial support for new shows and marketing, The Information reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The move may give publishers more opportunities to create original programming for Apple as the technology giant builds a services business that includes the App Store, Apple Music and its Apple News+ digital newsstand. Apple offers a variety of ways for publishers to make money, such as sharing subscription revenue from Apple News+"...

Q&A: People's EIC and Publisher
Excerpts from a Samir Husni interview with People's publisher, Monique Manso, and its chief editor, Armando Correa. Manso: "There’s a cultural relevancy to magazines and newspapers for Latinos. And because these are multigenerational households, that cultural relationship, that emotional relationship to print is passed down through the generations. And that’s why so much of our story is about readers per copy.” Correa: "For me, it’s important that everything is connected here. Print is important. The celebrities love to be on the cover of the magazine and they want to be on the website. But when you’re negotiating an exclusive, it’s print. And the loyalty -- we have almost half a million subscribers every month.”

Forbes Expands Paid Newsletter Platform for 'Journalist Entrepreneurs'
MediaPost: "Forbes Media LLC plans to start a newsletter publishing service that lets journalists make money from subscriptions and advertising. The publisher of Forbes will hire 20 to 30 writers to help with the launch, Axios reported. The publisher plans to split subscription revenue 50/50 with its newsletter writers, giving them a cut of advertising revenue without any cap on potential earnings. The ad revenue is based on page views and recurring visitors, Randall Lane, Chief Content Officer of Forbes, told Axios. The "Journalist Entrepreneurs" program is part of the publisher's effort to diversity its revenue, which mostly comes from advertising. It also comes as more journalists start publishing email newsletters with platforms like Substack, which shares subscription revenue with writers. Forbes will offer a guaranteed minimum salary and benefits to writers, along with legal counsel, editing support and fact-checking. The publisher plans to expand the platform to its online network of 2,800 contributors"...

November Bookstore Sales Fell 21.5%
PW: "Bookstore sales fell 21.5% in November compared to a year ago, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales were $485M, down from $618M in November 2019. The November decline was the smallest monthly drop reported since the pandemic caused bookstore sales to plunge this spring, and suggests that efforts to encourage customers to shop early for the holidays may have worked. However, there are indications from the wider retail survey that December sales were on the soft side. More detailed sales figures for December will be released on Feb. 17. For the first 11 months of 2020, bookstore sales declined 30% vs. same period 2019, falling to $5.46B, from $7.81B"

Local Media Group Teams With Mather On Subscription Services
MediaPost: "The Local Media Consortium and consulting firm Mather Economics formed a partnership to provide digital subscription services to media companies that belong to the group. The consortium, whose membership consists of more than 90 companies with 4,500 local media outlets, uses its purchasing power to negotiate money-saving deals for members. Mather is offering media companies access to services including consulting, audience and content analytics, industry benchmarking, data reports and its Listener data analytics platform, according to an announcement. The Atlanta-based firm provides services that include subscription management and customer data analytics. LMC's addition of Mather to its stable of approved vendors comes as local media outlets, including newspaper publishers, work to develop additional sources of revenue amid a decline in print advertising. Email newsletters are generally seen as a way of connecting directly with online readers, supporting efforts to sell digital advertising or subscriptions"...

Supreme Court Weighs Media Ownership Restrictions
MediaPost: "The Federal Communications Commission, broadcasters and news organizations on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to uphold the FCC's 2017 decision to loosen rules regarding media ownership. “Amazon gets to own The Washington Post today,” National Association of Broadcasters attorney Helgi Walker told the judges, obviously referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's ownership of the newspaper. “Nobody thinks that's the end of democracy. It's surely not the end of democracy if a local broadcaster can buy a local newspaper and keep it alive.” Walker, along with Deputy Solicitor General Malcom Stewart, were asking the Supreme Court to reverse a 2019 decision issued by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the FCC's relaxation of ownership restrictions. The 3rd Circuit said in its ruling that the FCC didn't consider how the move would affect ownership of media by women and minorities. The FCC has tried to deregulate media ownership since 2003, but its efforts have repeatedly been struck down in court. The latest FCC effort occurred in November of 2017, when the Republican-led agency voted 3-2 to loosen several restrictions -- including one that prevented the same company from owning a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market. Organizations representing the broadcast and newspaper industries supported that change, while consumer advocacy groups opposed it. A coalition including Prometheus Radio Project and the watchdog Free Press sued the FCC over the rule change. Ruthanne Deutsch, who argued on behalf of Prometheus and others challenging the FCC's 2017 order, told the Supreme Court its decision should turn on whether the FCC “engaged in reasoned decision-making” when it removed restrictions. Deutsch argued the FCC's order was “based on zero information about female ownership and a nonsensical analysis of badly flawed data on minority ownership.” Some judges' questions at Tuesday's hearing suggested they are poised to reverse the 3rd Circuit's decision and revive the FCC's 2017 move"...


Retail News

Jewel-Osco Pilots First U.S. Automated Pickup Kiosk
Chicago Tribune: "A South Loop Jewel-Osco is the first grocer in the nation to pilot an automated pickup kiosk, one of numerous investments grocers are making to prepare for a future of more online shopping. The kiosk, located in the store parking lot, is meant to offer a convenient and contact-free option for online shoppers to collect their groceries. Shoppers are asked to select a two-hour pickup window, and when they arrive they scan a code and their items are delivered robotically, according to the company. Employees shop the store to fill customers’ orders and put them into the kiosk for pickup. The kiosk, made by Estonia-based Cleveron, has a refrigerated and deep freeze zone so ice cream can be picked up at the same console as bananas. Jewel-Osco parent Albertsons plans to install a second kiosk at a Safeway in the San Francisco Bay Area, but has not announced plans for a wider rollout"...

Kroger Piloting Smart Shopping Cart
SN: "The Kroger Co., the largest U.S. supermarket operator, is piloting an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered “smart” shopping cart from New York-based Caper Inc. Caper announced the partnership with Kroger on Tuesday. Branded as “KroGO” by Kroger, the Caper Cart has been quietly tested at a Kroger-banner store in Cincinnati since last October. The technology enables shoppers to scan items and pay directly via the cart, eliminating the need to wait in line at the checkout area. “We began testing KroGo, a new smart shopping cart powered by Caper, at one store last fall in the Cincinnati area,” a Kroger spokesperson stated. “KroGo offers customers a seamless shopping experience where they can scan items and pay, all on the cart. Our expansion plans will be guided by insights from our customers and associates.” The Caper Cart uses AI and machine learning to scan products as customers put them in the cart, which has a built-in scale for items sold by weight. A touchscreen near the cart’s handle displays a running tally of items selected, and an attached a point-of-sale card terminal allows customers to pay for their purchases right on the cart. Shoppers bag their own groceries, and once payment is completed they exit the store"...

Costco Offers Curbside Pickup in 3 N.M. Locations
USA Today: "Curbside pickup, which has grown dramatically in popularity and availability during the coronavirus pandemic, is now being offered at Costco's three New Mexico clubs. The Albuquerque clubs have rolled out the new service with Instacart for members who can purchase about 2,000 items including groceries and select non-food items. Costco also partners with the online and on-demand grocery company for same-day deliveries. But the added convenience comes at a price. There's a $10 pickup fee on each order and the minimum order is $100, Costco says on its website, adding each pickup warehouse has "dedicated pickup parking spaces",,, Costco said in a statement that the company is testing curbside pickup on "a limited basis in one market at this time." On its website, Costco said store employees prepare the orders and deliver to members' vehicles and that curbside pickup "adds an additional expense to our low-cost business model and limited markup structure""...

Ingles to Expand Curbside With Network Upgrade
SN: "A major IT network upgrade has enabled Ingles Markets to bulk up its online grocery capabilities and launch new services such as curbside pickup amid a surge in consumer demand driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hewlett-Packard networking technology subsidiary Aruba said yesterday that Ingles is now providing curbside pickup at four of its stores and working to bring on more locations soon. The Asheville, N.C.-based grocer operates 197 supermarkets overall in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama"...

Giant Offers New Ecommerce Subscription
Grocery Dive: "The Giant Company is now offering an e-commerce subscription program that offers unlimited no-fee delivery and pickup for $98 a year or $12.95 per month, the company announced Tuesday. Choice Pass will replace PodPass, the online grocery subscription service offered through Peapod for $119 per year. Giant has branded Choice Pass in line with its Choice Rewards loyalty program. "Currently, one-third of our customers engage with us digitally. As that number grows, given the renewed interest in subscription services, especially grocery delivery, Choice Pass also positions us for future growth in the expanding digital landscape," Matt Simon, Giant’s chief marketing officer, said"...

Weis Markets Names New CFO
PG: "Weis Markets has appointed Michael T. Lockard its SVP, CFO and treasurer. A veteran financial retail executive, Lockard will succeed the company’s longtime CFO, Scott Frost, who is retiring. To ensure a smooth transition, Frost will continue as CFO until March 12, at which time Lockard will assume the role. In his new position, Lockard will oversee the day-to-day management of the Weis Markets’ accounting, auditing and financial functions. He will report to Jonathan Weis, chairman and CEO of Weis Markets. Lockard brings to his latest role more than 25 years of senior-level executive experience in retail, supermarket and supply-chain companies, with responsibility for strategic planning, finance and accounting, information technology and global shared services"...

Kroger Says It Unwittingly Contributed to Oath Keepers Militia "Kroger has yanked an Indiana nonprofit from a list of community organizations eligible for charitable donations by the company after it learned it had unwittingly supported an anti-government militia group. Kroger on Wednesday pledged to review nonprofits receiving support and purge groups it doesn't want. Kroger officials say Indiana Oath Keepers was an IRS-approved nonprofit that successfully signed up to receive donations through its customer-directed Community Rewards Program. The group was cut off Tuesday after Kroger learned it was "not aligned with the company's values." Indiana Oath Keepers characterizes itself as a militia of former law enforcement and military personnel, but is called an extremist anti-government group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The FBI has been looking at extremist group ties of some of the Capitol rioters arrested, including the Oath Keepers. Prosecutors say some leaders of the group helped organize the Jan. 6 attack. "Given the concerning nature of the allegations against this organization, we have immediately removed the group from receiving customer-directed funds," Kroger said in a statement. "We are currently reviewing the list of organizations enrolled in the program to determine if there are additional groups we should remove""...


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