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Tracking: February 9, 2021

Andy Mills is out of the New York Times. News of his resignation was made public on Friday, and it comes in the wake of this, this, and this. This story was grouped together with another controversy-laden exit: that of Donald McNeil, the star science reporter who had become the leading narrative reporter on the coronavirus pandemic for the Times — and who was a prominent fixture on The Daily over the past year.

Speaking of the Times… I believe the paper had first dibs on the story that Paris Hilton is launching a podcast with iHeartMedia. Called This is Paris, the show will debut on February 22, and according to write-up, one point of distinction will be a format that the production is calling “Podposts,” short-form audio missives meant to simulate an approximation of an influencer social media posting unit. This is not the first time short-form audio episodes will be used to such effect — shout-out to Happier with Gretchen Rubin — but we’ll see if Hilton’s celebrity capital will drive any interesting effects on podcast impressions. Anyway, you won’t hear snark about Hilton’s media prowess from me — I, for one, am partial to the belief that she’s a media savant — though, I’d like you to know that I spent half an hour trying to come up with a joke about how her taking up podcasting gives new meaning to “Stars Are Blind” (a classic), because, you know, podcasts not having visuals or whatever, but I couldn’t come up with anything.

Spotify posted a stronger subscription growth in its fourth-quarter earnings, but the company offered a conservative outlook for the year to come, citing even greater uncertainty ahead as the world may or may not open up. Here’s the Wall Street Journal write-up on the matter, which posited that “Spotify’s pandemic boost may be peaking.” Also, Spotify is holding some sort of presentation on February 22, which is coincidentally the day This Is Paris drops.

Joe Budden has launched a membership business on Patreon, now that his podcast is independent following its departure from Spotify. Budden has apparently also joined Patreon as head of creator equity. Here’s the Hollywood Reporter on that.

Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban is working on a “next-gen podcast platform,” reports The Verge’s Ashley Carman. The startup is called Fireside (not to be mistaken with the *other* podcast company called Fireside), it’s still under wraps, and it’s apparently scheduled to launch publicly later this year. From the description, Fireside seems more like a Clubhouse competitor in the sense that it emphasizes live conversation experiences between creators and fans. So, like Twitch, I guess. Once again, pour one out for the folks who continue to advocate that the word “podcasting” should refer to the specific technological arrangement of on-demand audio published on the open ecosystem.