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CNN Buying Mashable For $200M?

Felix Salmon reported late yesterday from SXSW that “a little bird” told him CNN would be purchasing Mashable for $200 million, with an announcement scheduled for Tuesday.

It’s “entirely plausible,” he says. The acquisition makes sense, because it has the “same kind of consumer focus that CNN does. It’s not aimed for the tech insiders, it’s aimed at the masses.”

PaidContent’s Staci Kramer says, though, “not so fast.”

“A source familiar with the situation describes the report of a deal as a rumor and tells paidContent no announcement is scheduled…While I wouldn’t be surprised to see CNN wind up with Mashable, I don’t see Turner paying $200 million—or even coming close—for it.”

‘Deep’ Layoffs Coming To Yahoo; PR, Marketing Among Targets

The Wall Street Journal (and AllThingsD) is confirming the rumors that Yahoo plans to lay off thousands of people as soon as the end of March.

PR and marketing, “research, marginal businesses and weaker regional efforts are among those considered as potential targets.”

The company employs more than 14,000 employees plus software contractors; a source told Kara Swisher that each unit would need to show significant savings or a “clear path” to revenue growth. “It’s going to be deep,” that source said.

Final numbers have yet to be announced. A Yahoo spokesman would only email the following statement: “Our leadership is engaged in a process that will generate significant strategic change at Yahoo, but final decisions have not yet been made at this point. Beyond that, we will not comment.”

Tista Games CEO Needs Writers

Badly, it seems.

While this sort of stilted, all-caps exchange would have captivated gamers in the ’90s, today’s gamers demand more sophisticated storylines and dialogue. Tista Games, the self-styled “HBO of Games” (because of the company’s episodic products, a brilliant concept) says it’s seeking writers who can create “long storylines and depth of character. We’re going to have a need for writers to come in and give us content that we can then package into a game.”

See the full MediabistroTV interview below.

Your Individual Brand Versus Your Newsroom

Poynter has a thoughtful piece up about what happens when a journalist’s brand clashes with a newsroom’s social media policy.

Example: CNN’s Roland Martin, whose homophobic Super Bowl tweets got him a suspension; Britain’s Sky News, which recently forbade its journalists from retweeting competitors (are you serious??), and many more.

Sometimes a newsroom is right to clamp down on a journalist (like in the case of CNN’s suspension of Martin), and sometimes a newsroom’s social media policy is just crazy (i.e. Sky news)

Another example is this post from social media editor Matthew Keys, who lasted only eight months at KGO-TV, owned by Disney-ABC. He was hired, he writes, due in part to his social media savvy, yet his bosses took issue with his use of social media. “There were several behind-closed-door discussions and back-and-forth emails about my Twitter methods, the sort of language I’d use in certain tweets, the frequency at which tweets went out and whether or not it was acceptable to mention or tweet competitors….I think the bureaucracy, mixed with stagnant progression on the perception of social media at Disney-ABC, led to a decline in influence by way of my personal brand on Twitter. That was definitely disappointing, as I had hoped it would be perceived as a benefit to the company and the station, not as a disturbance….In the end, we perceived things differently, and it just didn’t work out.” He talks a lot about Klout, but we’ll overlook that as this is definitely a post worth reading.

NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik tries to strike a balance in his Tweets: he follows the same guidelines he would if he were giving a speech in public. A personality, not an ideologue.

As journalists with personal brands (and personality) are more valuable to a news organization, it’d be wise for any news organization to embrace social media and put policies in place that leave breathing room for reporters and others to express themselves. But as digital media professor Sree Sreenivasan told Poynter, it’s still true that the best way to build a personal brand is “by knocking it out of the park at work every day.”

AOL To Lay Off Hundreds?

Sarah Lacy at PandoDaily is reporting that AOL is planning to lay off hundreds of employees next week.

Some cuts “will undoubtably come from the bloated Patch division, but not all,” she said.

Business Insider has a slightly different story: their source said that AOL is indeed planning to lay off some people, but not nearly as many as hundreds, and that the cuts will come from the West Coast team that works on products like About.me, Editions (“the app for when you cr*p“) and other products that don’t drive traffic to the Huffington Post.

We’ll see next week, we s’pose.

Without Staff, TechCrunch’s Traffic Plummets

TechCrunch’s traffic is down 35 percent from a year ago, paidContent reports, and it’s probably due to the mass exodus of talent following founder Michael Arrington’s highly visible departure.

The “trickle” of high-profile departures “became a flood this year” (the latest to leave is Jason Kincaid) and TechCrunch is now “gutted of nearly all its talent.”

There are still more than 30 staffers listed on the site’s masthead, but traffic is, indeed, down, and Techmeme has said that the site is sliding down its leaderboard.

But bully for AOL for trying, PaidContent says. “Keep in mind that TechCrunch’s $25 million price tag amounted to a cheap investment for a major media company seeking to acquire a gloss of tech cachet. The purchase doesn’t appear to have had any significant effect on AOL’s bottom line. While AOL doesn’t break out TechCrunch in its financial reporting – and didn’t speak about the tech blog in its last earnings call—AOL’s share price has been flying high. Meanwhile, AOL recently reported ongoing traffic growth at the Huffington Post Group (which it bought for 10 times the price of TechCrunch) and annual company-wide revenues of $2.2 billion for 2011.”

Chicago News Cooperative Suspends Publication

The nonprofit Chicago News Cooperative is suspending publication effective Feb. 26, it announced today.

“Unlike similar start-up efforts like the Texas Tribune in Austin, the Bay Citizen in San Francisco and ProPublica in New York, we never recruited the kind of seven figure donations from people of means concerned about the declining quality of news coverage around the country,” editor and CEO James O’Shea wrote.

The financial issues were “too complex to discuss in any detail in a note like this,” he said. But the Chicago Reader reported Friday that CNC asked the New York Times, to which it contributed content, for the funding it would need to continue and was turned down.

O’Shea’s post, published today, did not reference the Reader, but said that “Early stories and twitter posts on our problems were inaccurate. The reporting was sloppy and simply reinforced in my mind the need for solidly reported, well-edited journalism, the kind that professional CNC journalists have been doing on our website and in the New York Times since November, 2009.”

The site counts 30 staffers among its ranks, the majority of them involved in newsgathering or journalism.

The nonprofit will be “examining our potential to see if we can identify an alternative path” in the next few weeks.

Is Gamification The New Marketing Strategy?

Gamification has been the buzzword in industries from education to health and wellness to even recruitment, and there are some who suggest that gamification has already jumped the shark, but until today we hadn’t thought of it as a PR tool.

Yet according to PR Daily, at least two companies (NASA and a drug maker) are using games to promote their brands. (Pharmville, anyone?)

NASA’s launched Space Race Blastoff on Facebook, a quiz game that is meant to make people realize that the millions of dollars NASA spends on space has tangible benefits on earth (see Velcro, Tang, and memory foam mattresses).

And drug company Boehringer Ingelheim is launching a game in April that shows how much R&D goes into making a drug, in hopes that consumers will then understand why their Lipitor (for example) is so expensive.

“If you have to face the same challenge an organization does, or you can produce the same benefits, your eyes can be opened to something a company or industry has been trying to tell you for years,” writes Shel Holtz. “The game can create the ‘aha’ moment that institutional advertising, press releases, and blog posts that both traditional and digital media failed to deliver.”

Just another tool in your marketing and PR toolbox. Have you tried “gamifying” your company’s products? We’d love to see more examples of this trend, so send ‘em in.

Dan Abrams Food Site Will Need ‘A Couple’ New Hires

Among the other topics covered in this wide-ranging interview with the Mediaite founder, Dan Abrams told Ad Age today that he’s launching a food site “in the next few months.”

The site will use one in-house editor but Abrams Media will be hiring “a couple more” people to help run the site.

That, plus one or two more launches later in 2012, mean a few gigs for journalists/bloggers/what have you. And Abrams also told Ad Age that the company is “solidly profitable,” which is always a good sign on the Internet.

Jobs Available For ‘Non-Basher’ Journalists


“When I look at stations like national Fox News — fair and balanced — the message they promote is violence and hate, not understanding. MSNBC, they make fun of, or bash, without bringing solutions to the table. Right now, our country is in decline, and our media has absolutely failed our country,” says 24-year-old journalism grad Mnar A. Muhawesh, whose MintPress news site has just launched in Minnesota.

MintPress may be based in Minnesota, but it’s got an international focus, covering social issues worldwide.

“We want to ask more questions about policies, social issues, how we can rebuild this country,” Muhawesh told David Brauer. “We’re not bashing the system, we’re covering issues — what’s worked and what hasn’t worked.”

Muhawesh’s site already has a staff of seven (six full-timers), a three-year plan for profitability, and unnamed investors. She plans to hire up to eight more staffers, especially ones who have “passion, [those] who went into journalism to make a difference. These are the people we call back.”

Check out the site at http://mintpress.net to learn more.

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