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June 17, 2021

Publishing News

Dick Stolley, People Founding Editor and Noted Journalist, Dies at 92
Richard B. "Dick" Stolley, founding editor of People magazine and a noted journalist who famously secured the Zapruder film footage of President John F. Kennedy's assassination for Life magazine, has died at 92. People launched in 1974. Stolley died of heart complications in Evanston, Ill. on Wednesday, with his family by his side... "Dick Stolley was a legendary editor whose vision and execution established the most successful magazine of all time that America fell in love with. He was an amazing journalist whose work and magazine craft we still refer to every day at People as it's still so relevant," Dan Wakeford, editor in chief, People, said in a statement. "He wrote in his first editor's letter in 1974, 'People will focus entirely on the active personalities of our time-in all fields. On the headliners, the stars, the important doers, the comers, and on plenty of ordinary men and women caught up in extraordinary situations"... In addition to his lengthy tenure as a magazine editor, Stolley was also known for his reporting work at Life magazine, where he helped shed light on the triumphs and tragedies of the civil rights movement in the South," and for acquiring the JFK assassination footage. "'Dick was told by [Abraham] Zapruder's business partner that the reason Life got the film was not because of the money [$50,000], but because Dick had behaved, 'like a gentleman,'" says People's current news editor, Hal Wingo. "At every turn, when reporters were screaming at his front door without mercy, Zapruder was confident that the film would never be misused or exploited by Life with a man like Dick speaking for the magazine'... Stolley cemented his legacy in 1973, when he helped create People. Time Inc. Chairman Andrew Heiskell had decided, based on a suggestion from his wife Marian Sulzberger Heiskell, to spin off the People section of Time magazine into its own publication. A test issue with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton gracing the cover "flew off the newsstands," Stolley said in a 2015 interview... "The one thing that I've always wanted to say, when we started, I said, this is not a celebrity magazine. This is personality journalism," he said. "And we will be doing stories all over the world, which we did and still do, and it will be on all people in all walks of life. Some will be well known, some will not. Our motto was, 'extraordinary people doing ordinary things, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things.' And the formula worked then and still does." NY Post: Stolley, who later served as editorial director of Time Inc., "said his biggest regret running People was that he did not put the death of Elvis Presley on the cover, because the magazine at the time had a tradition of not putting deceased people on the cover... He was inducted into the American Society of Magazines Editors Hall of Fame and was a longtime editorial advisor to Time Inc. after he retired." Post story provides more details on the Zapruder film acquisition story.

New Yorker Averts Strike
NY Times: "A group of union employees at The New Yorker and two other publications has reached a deal with their parent company, Condé Nast. The New Yorker Union and the unions representing two other Condé Nast publications, Ars Technica and Pitchfork, came to an agreement with the company on Wednesday after bargaining together for higher wages and improved health benefits, among other demands... The deal with Condé Nast includes base pay of $55,000 for employees at all three unions, rising to $60,000 by April 2023. Under the agreement, many employees at the three publications will receive wage increases of at least 10%, the unions said in a statement. The agreement includes a cap on increases for health care costs and defined working hours. Contracts will also include a “just cause” provision stating that managers must provide specific reasons before disciplining or firing employees"...

Sports Illustrated Goes Into Ticketing
AP: "Sports Illustrated is branching out into the sports and entertainment ticket marketplace. Authentic Brand Groups, which manages the Sports Illustrated brand, announced Wednesday it is teaming up with Venmo to launch SI Tix. The new ticket reseller site arrives at a time when more venues are going to full capacity and easing COVID-19 health restrictions.SI Tix will charge a $10 transaction fee for all tickets purchased via Venmo and will offer a full refund if an event is canceled... Tickets purchased using PayPal and credit or debit cards will be charged a processing fee. Besides ticketing, the SI name is associated with a film studio, Mitchell & Ness and Topps. It also signed a deal with UNKNWN, an apparel brand launched by LeBron James that includes a sweatshirt that shows James gracing the SI cover for the first time back in 2002"...

DoJ Drops Case Against John Bolton
PW: "After a year of litigation, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its civil and criminal legal actions against former President Trump's one-time national security adviser over his bestselling memoir "The Room Where It Happened." The news came in a brief, two-line stipulation filed on June 16, in which federal judge Royce Lamberth dismissed the DoJ case against Bolton with prejudice, and ordered each side to pay their own fees and costs. Published by Simon & Schuster, the book has sold about 679,000 print copies, according to NPD BookScan. Bolton’s Lawyer, Charles Cooper, said the decision to end the litigation against Bolton was a complete vindication — and suggests wrongdoing by the Trump DoJ. "By ending these proceedings without in any way penalizing Ambassador Bolton or limiting his proceeds from the book, the Department of Justice has tacitly acknowledged that President Trump and his White House officials acted illegitimately,” Cooper said in a statement... "We applaud today’s decision by the Department of Justice, which affirms the right of Ambassador Bolton to tell the story of his time as National Security Advisor without fear of politically motivated retribution, and sets an important precedent for the publication of future works by government officials," said a spokesperson for S&S"...

Media Companies Resume Hiring Plans After Steep Cuts
MediaPost's Rob Williams writes: "Hiring at media companies, including publishers, is showing signs of rebounding from last year's suspension of activity during the pandemic. However, the news industry also has trimmed its headcount, and more losses may be coming at local newspapers formerly owned by Tribune Publishing. Media companies by the end of May had announced plans to hire 725 people, a dramatic jump from 12 workers during the comparable five-month period a year earlier, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas data cited by Axios. Within the sub-segment of newsrooms, outlets including digital, print and broadcast announced 963 job cuts by the end of May. That number is 91% less than the 10,576 job cuts through the same period a year earlier, when a steep drop in ad revenue led many media outlets to reduce headcount. More newsroom jobs will be lost as Alden Capital offers buyouts to employees of Tribune, which the hedge fund acquired last month. The deal added the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant, among other papers, to its holdings. The steep drop in job cuts and the pickup in hiring plans offer a mixed view of the outlook. Ad spending is expected to roar back this year, according to revised estimates from media agencies GroupM and Magna. But much of that growth will be on digital platforms, a market that's getting more crowded amid the growth in social media and ad networks from retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target. Delivery companies such as Instacart and GoPuff also are selling ads aimed at consumers as they shop online. Aside from pushing for a bigger slice of the digital advertising market, publishers will continue to develop other ways to boost revenue through subscriptions, events, ecommerce and educational programs."


Retail News

Kroger Sees Strong Q1 Private Label, Digital Sales, Despite YoY Pandemic Comparison
Grocery Dive: "Kroger saw identical-store and overall sales decline during the first quarter of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020, the supermarket chain announced Thursday. Same-store sales excluding fuel fell 4.1% during Q1, which ended May 22, while overall sales came in at $41.3B, down slightly from $41.5B during Q1 2020. The retailer's same-store sales were up 14.9% in Q1 compared with Q1 2019, and digital sales grew 108% over that period. Kroger joins other grocers that also have seen their results turn negative as they begin comparing their operations in 2021 with the extraordinary sales jump the industry recorded at the start of the pandemic. While Kroger has seen its sales lose some steam as the COVID-19 crisis diminishes, the company remains in a strong position to benefit from shifts in consumer behavior brought on by the public health crisis. "Our customers have changed because of COVID," Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said during an earnings call Thursday, noting that Kroger has seen pandemic trends continue among consumers, like sustained at-home cooking, more premium product purchases and heightened digital engagement. However, as pandemic restrictions lift, Kroger is seeing more frequent purchases by shoppers, he said. The company is especially pleased with its online operations, which rose 16% YoY in Q1 even as sales went down. Kroger plans to double its digital business in the coming years, McMullen said, noting that most customers shop both online and at stores. "Our retention rate is incredibly high, and our ability to gain share within that household is very high as well," he said. Kroger expanded its pickup capacity by 15% during Q1 and now offers the service at 2,233 locations... The company expanded its delivery service to 2,488 locations during the quarter. Kroger also said it has raised its expectations for 2021 based on its Q1 performance. The company now expects identical sales to decline between 2.5% and 4% YoY, and rise between 10.1% and 11.6% compared with 2019. In addition, the company's alternative profit business, which includes a media unit that handles advertising for third-party customers, sales of personal finance products and services, and data-analysis operations, hit a record during Q1"...

Amazon Releases Details on Prime Day Deals
PG: "advance of its Prime Day shopping event on June 21 and June 22, Amazon has shared details about some of the upcoming deals. Beyond savings on electronics, Amazon devices, household goods and apparel, the retail behemoth is offering in-store and e-commerce discounts at Whole Foods. Shoppers at Whole Foods can snag deals on summer staples like steak, caprese pizza, lemonade and pie. Offers also include sales on reusable water bottles. The two-day event for Amazon Prime members is also an early launchpad for back-to-school merchandising. Beginning next week, fall apparel and dorm room décor will be showcased and discounted. To build anticipation and sales, Amazon is also broadcasting “Amazon Live” product demos, celebrity chats, video clips and deal reviews during Prime Day. Viewers can watch online or via the Amazon Live Shopping app on FireTV"...

Walmart Invests in Drone Company
PG: "After safely performing hundreds of drone deliveries from stores in partnership with nationwide drone services provider DroneUp, Walmart is now making an investment in DroneUp “to continue our work toward developing a scalable last-mile delivery solution,” according to John Furner, CEO and president, Walmart U.S., in a blog post. Walmart and Virginia Beach, Va.-based DroneUp teamed last year on successful trial deliveries of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits. Furner noted that his company “already has a significant part of the infrastructure in place – 4,700 stores stocked with more than 100,000 of the most purchased items, located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population. This makes us uniquely positioned to execute drone deliveries, which is why our investment in DroneUp won’t just apply to the skies, but also the ground.” He added that in the next few months, Walmart would launch its first drone operation at a store in the retailer’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark. In April, the company revealed a similar investment in San Francisco-based autonomous electric vehicle provider Cruise. “Through these commitments, we’re learning how these technologies can get customers the items they need,” noted Furner. “Conducting drone deliveries at scale is within reach,” he continued. “DroneUp’s expertise, combined with our retail footprint and proven history of logistics innovation, puts us right where we want to be for that day. Because when it comes to the future of drone delivery, we know the sky’s the limit""...

U.S.-EU Tariffs Truce Should Lower Prices on Some Foods, Wines
Fortune: "After 17 contentious years, the U.S. and EU this week called a kind of truce on the Airbus-Boeing trade dispute, meaning all manner of delectables, which have no connection whatsoever to aircraft parts—French wine, Italian cheese, and Spanish ham—will, for a time, no longer be subject to trade tariffs... Since October 2019, when the latest round of World Trade Organization–-sanctioned tariffs went into effect, the two trading partners have slapped punitive tariffs on each other’s exports amounting to over $3.3B. American goods like peanut butter, suitcases, and tobacco got caught up in the dispute as well... As part of the terms reached this week, tariffs will be suspended for the next five years. The two sides also created a trade-minister–level working group to discuss subsidy limits and to ultimately boost transatlantic relations. Meanwhile, the good news for consumers and companies: The deal would spare up to $11.5B worth of EU and U.S. consumer goods from being hit with punitive tariffs. In the agreement, the two sides also pledge to work together to address “non-market practices of third parties.” That’s seen as a reference to trade giant China, which could mean the trade war simply heads to the East."

Amazon Allegedly Blocking Google FLoC: Reports
MediaPost: "Amazon is allegedly blocking Google's tests with its Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) from gathering data on its properties including, and, according to multiple reports. Several companies, including search engines, have already opposed it, taking a stance to block the cohorts. WordPress wrote in a blog post it would treat FLoC as a “security concern,” meaning that in the next major patch it will disable the tech on all sites with the patch also being ported to previous versions of WordPress after that point. “We believe the news from Amazon could be a major headwind to Google's ability to collect valuable shopper data within the e-commerce eco-system,” wrote RBC Capital Marketers Analyst Matthew Swanson in a research note published Wednesday. Google is piloting the FLoC system. The goal is to protect people's privacy by grouping them into cohorts with similar characteristics rather than track at an individual level. Swanson points out that the speed in which Google can ramp up this function will impact when it removes Cookies from Chrome. Events like this could cause a delay. “The move by Amazon looks to be an attempt to protect their own valuable first-party data, which is the same thing critics say Google is doing by wanting to get rid of cookies,” Swanson wrote. Swanson points out that companies have been working individually and collectively to create alternative identifiers to ensure performance following the loss of cookies, and any roadblocks or “headwinds to Google's FLoC” could give them more time before the loss of cookies and also improve their identifiers longtime. “It also could be a sign that Amazon is looking to take its role as a DSP more seriously, potentially creating a competitive advantage over Google, he wrote,” Swanson wrote. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment."


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