If you’re a fan of “The Office,” then you’re familiar with the actor John Krasinski who played Jim Halpert on the show for nine seasons. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March last year, Krasinski launched a popular YouTube series called “Some Good News” featuring, well, you probably guessed it—good news from around the world. Segments featured random acts of kindness, profiles highlighting and celebrating the work of essential workers, and even a surprise reunion of the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton” (that video currently boasts 13 million views). In a middle of a very difficult season, watching just five minutes of Krasinski’s show was sure to brighten your mood.
Although we didn’t reunite “Hamilton” for our March issue, we are presenting some good news this month. Our annual 10 News Publishers That Do It Right features some of the best and brightest ideas in our industry today. In a year where we saw advertising revenue plunge, heightened attacks on the media, and the toll of physical and mental health concerns rise for our journalists, our industry came together in unprecedented ways. Whether it was pivoting entire newsrooms to remote work at home, quickly moving in-person gatherings to virtual events, or creating advertising packages to meet the new demands found in their communities, news publishers from all market sizes stepped up to the plate.
We may be three months into 2021, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We’re still navigating through a global pandemic, while keeping an eye out on our business. But if we learned anything from last year, it’s that our industry is a strong and resilient one (as our cover image of Rosie the Riveter shows: “We can do it!”). Many media companies had to make tough decisions last year, but many of them have been able to bounce back. So, as you read through our list featuring our 10 news publishers, we hope those companies inspire you, and we hope they set an example of some good news.
Also, this month, we feature an exclusive story that goes behind the scenes of the historic lawsuit filed by HD Media, the West Virginia-based publisher of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston Gazette-Mail and the Herald-Dispatch. E&P was the first to break the news in January.
In the lawsuit, HD Media claims “Google has monopolized the digital advertising market to such an extent that Google has been enabled to extract a supracompetitive share of HD Media’s advertising revenues, harming the company’s ability to effectively monetize its content. The complaint also alleges that Google and Facebook violated antitrust laws by conspiring to further their worldwide dominance of the digital advertising market, entering into a secret agreement codenamed ‘Jedi Blue’ to manipulate online auctions.”
Speaking with writer Gretchen Peck, HD Media vice president of news and executive editor Lee Wolverton and attorney Paul T. Farrell, Jr. express how this case may just be the first of newspapers and other media companies going up against tech giants like Google and Facebook, who have gobbled up much of the digital advertising revenue. HD Media reports both Google and Facebook have combined annual revenues of more than $200 billion. To learn more, Wolverton and Farrell also spoke with E&P publisher Mike Blinder in our E&P Reports podcast (bit.ly/36VtOan).
From the outside, this lawsuit certainly looks like a David vs. Goliath scenario, but in the original Biblical story, David did, in fact, slay the giant, so we will have to wait and see if HD Media (and other newspaper companies if they join in) will also prevail.
As Doug Reynolds, HD Media managing partner, said in a statement: “We are fighting not only for the future of the press but also the preservation of our democracy.”
Nu Yang is editor-in-chief of Editor and Publisher. She has been with the publication since 2011.