Entertainment agency WENN is stepping back after 33 years of blaming social media

Entertainment agency WENN is stepping back after 33 years of blaming social media

Celebrity news agency World Entertainment News Network (WENN) has collapsed after 33 years, blaming the “perfect storm” created by social media and the Covid-19 pandemic.

WENN Media Group (TWMG) has ceased production of entertainment news service WENN under what has been described as a “planned restructuring of the company”.

As a result, the group’s subsidiary WMG Operations Ltd, which ran the wire part of the company, was dissolved. The Gazette understands that the creditors have been notified of the liquidation.

However, TWMG plans to continue operating the photo service that facilitates access to more than 10 million photos. She said she will launch a new agency, Meta Images, later this month.

TWMG Chairman, Lloyd Penny, said: “For the past 33 years, it has been a huge privilege to provide global media with the news service of Global Entertainment News Network and to give so many aspiring young journalists the opportunity to hone their skills.

“However, the rise of social media, which has usurped traditional wired service, along with the pandemic has created a perfect storm that has definitively affected the economic sustainability of this division.”

Benny added, “Meta Images is currently working on tools and will, before the end of the month, provide media access to not only the old WENN archive but also the best new celebrity photos from around the world.”

Benny told the Gazette press that WENN employed a team of about 25 journalists at its peak but that this had eroded to “several” by the end.

Among the many young journalists WENN trained was the late singer Amy Winehouse, who got a job reporting as a teen as her best childhood friend was the daughter of founder Jonathan Ashby.

Ashby founded the wire service WENN in 1989 while working as a correspondent in London for ABC News. She began focusing on music news under the name World Rock News Network, but was renamed World Entertainment News Network two years later to reflect its expanded feed.

Under Ashby’s leadership, the group expanded to include the photography, radio and television divisions and established offices in London, Los Angeles, New York and Berlin. He remained CEO until he was forced to step down due to ill health in 2001.

[Read more: ‘True media visionary’ Jonathan Ashby, founder of WENN celebrity news agency, dies aged 66]

Rick Sky, managing director of rival agency Bang Showbiz, told Press Gazette WENN that the company’s closure was a “real blow” to the sector.

“It’s a very, very important agency,” he said. “Seeing someone else deeply involved in journalism suffer a demise like this is not a good thing.”

Sky, who edited rumor columns for The Sun, The Daily Star and The Daily Mirror before Bang started in 1997, described WENN as his agency’s “biggest competitor”.

Photo: Getty Images/Chris Cristoforo/Redfernce

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