Being owned by a billionaire is a struggling newsroom's dream. But it can turn into a nightmare
March 8, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 20.6%. 2 min read.
Wealthy media owners alleviate the pressures that come with being a part of a publicly traded company or a hedge fund seeking high profit margins. But staffers are still at the whims of a super rich and sometimes capricious owner.
They are "not a panacea," multiple people who work in these newsrooms told CNN Business.
Meth, who is currently commentary editor at the business magazine, joined in August 2016 when Fortune was a part of Time Inc. That conglomerate, home to many storied brands, had been struggling from the declining print business.
"From the day I started [at Fortune], it was just chaos," Meth, who is also unit chair of Fortune's union, told CNN Business.
Meth said editorial staffers like himself in the last year have been subjected to story output quotas that disincentivize deeply reported journalism.
In an interview with CNN Business, Fortune CEO Alan Murray reiterated the owner's commitment to investing in the magazine.
Jiaravanon "made it clear from day one that he was in it for the long term, that he buys businesses, he doesn't sell them very often, and that he really wanted to give us the opportunity to grow," Murray said.
The Atlantic, despite being owned by Powell Jobs, one of the richest people in the world, also laid off 68 staffers, about 17% of its employees, in May. Similar to Fortune, the brand's lucrative in-person events business had been shut down amid the pandemic.
Marc Benioff, the tech billionaire who owns Time magazine, took a different approach during the pandemic, pledging in March of last year there would be no layoffs for 90 days at his company Salesforce.
"We were pleased that the company made a 90-day, no-layoff commitment, but the only way to guarantee long-term job security is with a strong contract," said Leslie Dickstein, the unit chair of Time union.
A Time spokesperson told CNN Business that the company's workforce has grown 65% since Benioff's acquisition.
The billionaire owner of the Boston Red Sox, John Henry, bought The Boston Globe from The New York Times (NYT).
But amid contract negotiations the Globe's union has launched a public campaign that contends the paper is "in crisis. " More than two dozen journalists have left over the course of the negotiations, according to Victoria McGrane, politics editor at the Globe and vice president of Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents staffers at the Globe.
Philippou, the Courant reporter, said an ideal owner for the Connecticut paper would be someone who wants to "hire staff, invest in the newsroom.
The paper's publisher told the newsroom at the time of the sale that he was told the new owners would not influence coverage.
But Jim Wright, the paper's deputy editor at the time of the sale, told CNN in 2017 coverage of issues Adelson cared about "pretty much comes out of public relations. "