Media Moves

How problems at International Biz Times hurt Newsweek

February 25, 2018

Posted by Chris Roush

International Business TimesWill Oremus of Slate writes about the recent problems at Newsweek and notes that they were exacerbated by issues at sister publication International Business Times.

Oremus writes, “But multiple sources I spoke to with knowledge of Newsweek’s editorial strategy traced the magazine’s upheaval to a different, and perhaps surprising, source: a crisis at its sister publications, including the International Business Times.

“The International Business Times’ rapid growth had fueled the rise of IBT Media and funded the company’s 2013 purchase of Newsweek, as well as some prestige journalism initiatives at IBT itself. By 2016, however, trouble was brewing: The company laid off at least 45 people across its brands as part of a ‘restructuring’ whose motivations were not clearly explained. Those laid off complained publicly that they had not been paid severance.

“Then, in March 2017, disaster struck: A major update to Google’s search algorithm, designed to crack down on low-quality, ad-heavy sites and “private blog networks” that are widely viewed as traffic scams, hit IBT Media hard. The flagship IBT publication’s organic search traffic plunged by 50 percent, according to the analytics site SEMrush, as did search traffic at other IBT Media properties. Reports from Social Puncher and BuzzFeed earlier this year revealed evidence of possible advertising fraud at the company. (The company denied that it committed fraud.) Earlier this month, co-founder Uzac and his wife, Marion Kim, the company’s finance director, resigned.

“Numerous sources said the pressure to increase traffic at Newsweek was ratcheted up shortly after IBT’s traffic fell off. In the words of one former employee: ‘IBT was no longer the breadwinner, so Newsweek had to become the breadwinner.'”

Read more here.

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