April’s Baker’s Dozen

The Paramount saga continues, FT’s good deal with OpenAI and more.



Open AI

The Financial Times became the fifth powerhouse news publisher (following the AP, Axel Springer, Le Monde and Prisa) to ink a deal with OpenAI licensing its content for chatbot training. 

Executive comments on the agreement noted its two main benefits: compensating publishers for the use of their journalism and feeding generative AI models diligently reported and fact-checked information. The former is especially notable given the New York Times’ ongoing lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft for pillaging its content for model building, and a growing debate over generative AI and copyright infringement. It’s also a hopeful sign that media companies have upped their defensive game after fumbling the ball in earlier tech faceoffs. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the earlier Axel Springer deal is expected to net that German company “tens of millions of dollars” annually. 

In other AI news, Axios chief Jim VandeHei spoke with the Times about that platform’s strategy shift amid the latest tech disruption: more events, a big-time newsletter expansion and a subscription program tied to its star journalists. 


Politico’s deep dive into the frayed relationship between the Biden White House and the NYT covers many of its complexities. But the rushed takeaway of many left-leaning readers–that AG Sulzberger is encouraging reports on Biden’s supposed senescence in order to avenge the White House’s refusal to grant the paper an interview with the president–further damaged their relationship with the Paper of Record. 

The National Enquirer

The notorious supermarket checkout rag was all over the news as its former publisher, George Pecker, testified in Donald Trump’s hush money trial about the publication’s “catch and kill” practice of buying and burying stories that could harm friends of the outlet. The publicity hasn’t helped the Enquirer find a buyer, which it’s been seeking for a whopping five years. 


Perhaps the biggest media story of the month was the controversy that erupted at NPR over (now former) staffer Uri Berliner’s essay contending that the nonprofit’s leftward lean had increasingly undermined its coverage. The debate predictably galvanized journalists and politicians on both sides of the aisle, but more worryingly set off a crisis of confidence within the vaunted news organization. 

The New Yorker

Ever since a series of top editors abruptly left Condé Nast in varying degrees of disgrace back in 2020, the conglomerate has asked EICs to submit an annual list of potential successors. Semafor covered the intrigue at Condé crown jewel The New Yorker surrounding legendary editor David Remnick’s list as sources say he’s likely to step aside, after 27 years at the top, following the magazine’s centennial celebration next year. 



Apollo Global Management


Protracted boardroom drama at Paramount produced one of its biggest shockers when Bob Bakish, the CEO who’d worked for the showbiz giant since 1997, was essentially shown the door. Bakish’s departure capped weeks of shareholder discontent over controlling shareholder Shari Redstone pushing for a sale to Skydance, which many grumble will enrich Redstone at the expense of other higher-ups who favor an offer by Apollo and Sony. 

Skydance sweetened its bid with a $3 billion cash infusion to help Paramount pay off debts incurred while it, like so many media legacy giants, buckled under the collapse of cable and the vexing move to streaming. Serious talks with Skydance’s rivals are on hold until its exclusive negotiation period ends in early May. Redstone apparently soured on Bakish, a longtime ally, after he didn’t pounce on Blackstone’s 2021 offer to buy the flailing Showtime cable network for north of $5.5 billion. He’ll leave with a severance package estimated at $50.1 million.