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Media Roundup: Tucson Citizen Closes, Facebook Buys Back Stock and More

Tucson Citizen closes -- This Saturday was the last published issue of the Tuscon Citizen. Gannett, the paper's owner, has been trying to find a buyer for the embattled Arizona newspaper for nearly six months. The paper plans on moving to an online-only version following the model of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The online version will be significantly trimmed down, featuring only opinion content. The federal judge has scheduled a hearing today at the request of the state attorney general to halt the closure of the paper. One potential buyer Stephen Hadland, CEO of the Santa Monica Media Company, asked the attorney general to delay the closing. [Source: paidContent]

Facebook buys back stock -- The social network Facebook is nearly finished raising $150 million to purchase 15 million shares of common stock from its employees. Many long term employees are said to be restless, anticipating some sort of cashout by this point in their employment. Given the current state of the IPO market, and after turning down multiple acquisition offers, it appears Facebook will remain a private, independently owned company. Most employees have several thousand shares valued at $10 on the private marketplace. It was initially suspected that the round of financing was to cover the company's rising server cots. Because this latest round is so large, the company had to reach out to new Asian investors. [Source: VentureBeat]

The Times considers metering visits -- Executive Editor Bill Keller told staff that the company is considering two proposals for charging for online content. One proposal will "meter" users by words read or by time on site, and charge appropriately. The second idea is to implement a membership system much like public radio that exchanges a yearly fee for merchandise, invites to Times events and access to special exclusive content. Keller said that management hopes to reach a decision by the end of June. [Source: New York Observer]

Wall Street Journal sees 160 percent growth -- The Web site of the Wall Street Journal experienced 160 percent in year-over-year growth for the month of April. The recent financial crises, as well as a site redesign that placed emphasis on community features, are likely reasons for the spike in traffic. The Journal led the top 30 news sites in growth by a wide margin. Meanwhile, the New York Times saw a decrease in visitors for the first time in months. [Source: Beet.TV]

FoxNews launches 24 hour Web cast -- Shortly after reporting a 75 percent surge in April traffic, FoxNews.com is planning on launching a daily Webcast to be streamed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show, Strategy Room, has been on the site for sometime but will be changed to be more like the television product. For revenue, the Webcast will have traditional commercial breaks as well as branded content appearing behind news anchors. FoxNews.com, while gaining in traffic, is till far behind competitors MSNBC.com and CNN.com. [Source: paidContent]

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