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Vox Media's merger with New York Media creates internal confusion



Wednesday they had meetings.

Kl. 12 on New York Media. 2pm on Vox Media. 5:30 pm again on New York Media. A call to some Vox employees who had to miss out at 2pm due to news.

The meetings were necessary, not just because that is what the companies do when they come together. They were also needed because of the confusion caused by the way the announcement was made, and the questions employees now had about the acquisition of New York Media, which owns the name letterpress and the websites The Cut, Grub Street, Intelligencer and Vulture, by Vox Media, the owner of a family with sites that include Vox, The Verge and Recode.

The news of the merger has rattled employees of both companies, who used these meetings to express their anxiety about the impact the merger would have on their jobs.

From a business perspective, it is a combination of Vox Media and New York Media. Media mergers have been more frequently discussed as companies compete with tech giants like Facebook and Google for digital advertising dollars. One way for media companies to win advertisers' budgets is through scale.

But in both newsrooms, the staff was troubled.

"The mood is somewhere between annoyed and confused," a New York Media writer told CNN Business. "The management is very keen to say the wording, as they have with conversations about everything else, trade union negotiations, the mag's upcoming office relocation and much else."

One reason for the first emergency was how the majority of employees at both companies learned about the merger. Before all internal communications, the Times published a story about the deal, with a picture of Bankoff and New York Media CEO Pamela Wasserstein, both smiling. Many employees of the merging companies discovered the story on Twitter after one of the authors, Edmund Lee, now of the Times, but former managing editor of Recode, tweeted at 8:53 p.m. ET.

Shortly thereafter, some Vox Media employees in the union representing them were convened in their internal Slack group. They were wondering when management should notify them; what this meant for the current New York Media negotiation team, where employees have organized a trade union through NewsGuild; and how it made sense for the combined company to have both Vox Media's Eater and New York Media's GrubStreet, each writing about food and serving.

Over the next hour, New York Media employees received an email from Wasserstein and another email from Haskell. Bankoff sent one to Vox Media employees, and someone in the management team got another from Bell. These emails repeated what was in the Times & # 39; s history: there would be no editorial layoffs.

But media executives have made the same promises after merging between other companies just to renew themselves later and cut staff.

Lowell Peterson, CEO of Writers Guild East, representing Vox Media, told CNN Business that his staff was in communication with Vox's management about such concerns.

"We have been assured that it will have no negative impact on the employees we represent ̵

1; no layoffs, no change in editorial structure, policy or control. So it's good. We have a solid collective bargaining agreement with Vox Media and we're very proud of it, "Peterson said.

But while employees in the newsrooms of Vox Media have the protection of their union, New York Media's union is still in the negotiating stage, having secured voluntary recognition in February. Wasserstein's email said the contract negotiations between the executive leadership and the New York Mag Union were "in the early stages."

In a meeting with Bankoff at Vox's headquarters, all employees asked to defend the existence of marks that could potentially overlap under one umbrella. Bankoff described the differences between sites like Vox's Polygon and New York's Vulture, with the former focused on entertainment and the latter on culture and both with clear voices.

However, the editorial difference does not protect employees on the business side, such as those in engineering, sales and administration.

In a podcast interview with Recodes Peter Kafka published Wednesday, Bankoff said, "The newsrooms will not be merged. They will continue to operate independently. Of course, we will look to better serve our advertisers by combining revenue side, to produce better technology by looking for ways to collaborate there. "
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[19659010] The merger helps strengthen the combined company's pitch for advertisers, said Noah Mallin, director of experience, content and sponsorship for Wavemaker North America, an advertising agency that has worked with both companies.

"It's hard to be a minnow when there are so many big fish out there. It doesn't matter how great the brand is to the publisher. It's about how you can scale to get noticed these days," Mallin said.

Mallin said that, as an advertiser, he was not concerned about any overlap of the brands.

"They have complementary audiences. It's definitely overlap, and that's not a bad thing," Mallin said. "[Sales] can talk about the depth to reach a more prosperous, urban audience."

After meeting Bankoff for the New York Media all-meeting, Wasserstein said she felt the company understood their position of strength. [19659002] "The news was a lot for people to bring in, but I think they were encouraged by what they heard from Jim Bankoff at the meeting with all hands," Wasserstein told CNN Business. "He and I share a vision of what a modern media company can be based on editorial excellence, the merger is about growth, and I think it's over."

A Vox Media writer expressed optimism about the merger. [19659002] "While Vox can be annoying and easily mocked (explainers!), They are really serious and open, and I think it's a super useful way to approach the news," the author told CNN Business. "They have no pretense, which is refreshing and maybe others can learn."


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