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ESPN: Too Focused On New York, Boston Teams?

0816yanks.jpgVanity Fair contributing editor and Red Sox obsessive Seth Mnookin (whom we interviewed in a previous incarnation), recently spoke to about the Sox. But what caught our eye was his take on how ESPN plays the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry for ratings:

“ESPN does get rapped for being too Red Sox-Yankees-centric, and people complain about how suffocating the media is in Boston… The only reason that is happening is because that’s what the audience wants. It’s not like the people who are running ESPN are all huge Red Sox fans. They’re in a business, and they want to do whatever is going to get the most ratings, and the Red Sox and the Yankees are going to get them the most ratings. It’s the same in Boston. If every time there was four hours straight on WEEI about the Red Sox, they lost 50 percent of their listeners, and those listeners came back when they were talking about the statehouse or the Bruins, then you’d get four hours of the statehouse and the Bruins. I understand why it can be frustrating if you’re living in Cleveland or Seattle or you’re a really rabid Astros fan, or something, but it’s the reality of the marketplace. Maybe it’s naive of me, but sports is entertainment. ESPN is an entertainment channel. Game stories, sports talk radio… all of that is essentially entertainment. It’s not the same as decisions that go into resources for a newspaper’s news hole, or what is going to get coverage on CNN, or whatever, even though it’s the same market pressures that affect what is going on there.”

Which we can understand. Given the traditional media markets of both teams (and, seriously: click on that link. it’s good), the total number of combined fans easily approaches 10% of the national population. Besides, Dodgers vs. Padres and Phillies vs. Pirates rivalries just don’t have the same drama.

— Neal Ungerleider

Times Goes Ga-Ga For Trapped In The Closet

0816trappedcloset.jpgThe Times is leading Thursday’s Arts section with a piece on new episodes of R. Kelly‘s Trapped In The Closet. Which, given the various infidelities, midgets, gay preachers and gunplay the series has featured… Well, it’s a natural choice. However, the real story here is that R. Kelly and label Jive Records teamed up with IFC to produce the new episodes for initial airing on The entire Trapped In The Closet series will then air on IFC on September 7, as well. And if we’re good, well, maybe they’ll even show the whole damn thing at the IFC Center.

A few quick notes:

  • IFC does a good job of legitimizing R. Kelly’s hip-hopera for the Times audience with general manager Evan Shapiro comparing Kelly to John Waters. Downtown comedian/Human Giant star Aziz Ansari is quoted as well.
  • Even as recently as five years ago, the Times would never have given prominent front-of-section placement to a pop singer’s midget and sex obsessed film side project. Is it skewing towards a younger audience? Or is it just the Times becoming more comfortable with semi-underground pop culture? Either way, smart move — it just means more advertising money from the paper.
  • As far as we know, this marks UrbanEye writer Melena Ryzik‘s first front-of-section piece for the Arts section. Congrats.

    — Neal Ungerleider

  • Gawking At Gawker Media

    0815denton.jpgNow, if you may, a look at Gawker Media. Nick Denton and company just got a loving write-up courtesy of Jon Friedman, who praises Gawker for their “growing up” and a newfound “playful, not obnoxious style.” There’s even a by-name shoutout to the Gawker ’07 season team of Choire Sicha, Alex Balk, Emily Gould, Doree Shafrir and Joshua David Stein and regular story subject Julia Allison.

    But Friedman also touches on the question of just how much money Gawker is making… It gets interesting from there.

    To recap the tale, Shylock Blogging (and can someone explain who that guy is anyway?), recently speculated about Gawker Media’s estimated revenues. Their number (~$52 million) was wildly off-base, but they got people thinking. Analyst Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider estimates Denton’s revenue at $12.5 million annually. Greg Allen thinks it’s somewhere in between.

    Meanwhile, the best informed commenters out of the pack, New York Magazine (cough Jesse Oxfeld/Jessica Coen cough), did their own number crunching. Out of all the guesses at Gawker’s profits to come out this week, they tabulated the most accurate count of Gawker Media’s expenses. But is their conclusion that Gawker earns a $14 million annual profit accurate?

    But back to the original Shylock posting: Nick Denton chimed in

    — Neal Ungerleider

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    Joanne Lipman: Not Big On The Atlantic

    This week’s Observer features a piece by Michael Calderone on the behind the scenes struggles at Portfolio. It’s well worth reading, especially given the magazine’s recent personnel changes and the rumors of Jim Impoco returning to the Times. The article was all worth it, if only to learn about EIC Joanne Lipman‘s (alleged) reading habits:

    “This is the first magazine venture for Ms. Lipman, a newspaper veteran who worked 22 years at The Wall Street Journal. And three sources at the magazine said that Ms. Lipman doesn’t generally read them. At one meeting, when The Atlantic‘s James Fallows was suggested as a writer for a story, two staffers said Ms. Lipman asked for some clips from the five-time National Magazine Award finalist. The two both also confirmed reports that Ms. Lipman is fond of saying her ideal writer at Portfolio would be James Patterson – the advertising executive-turned-best-selling crime novelist.”

    Also, sneak peak at the October issue: According to the paper, one article will focus on a business venture related to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

    — Neal Ungerleider

    Bill Clinton = Condé Nast Traveler’s 20th Anniversary Cover

    0815billclinton1panel.jpgBill Clinton just snagged the cover of Conde Nast Traveler‘s September issue. Apart from his work on Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s 2008 campaign and his public speaking work, Clinton has been active in outreach/publicity work for NGOs. The magazine’s angle for their cover piece is the ex-President’s work with the Clinton Global Initiative. There’s an extensive interview with Clinton about his views on American foreign policy and the third world (and strangely little about Hillary’s campaign), but we were happy to see that he’s adjusting to New York just fine:

    “But you know in Arkansas, in my native state, in the northwest part of the state, which was overwhelmingly white Protestant, the fastest-growing group of citizens there are Hispanics, and many of the Catholic churches in northwest Ark now have two masses. They have a Spanish mass as well as an English mass. If you go to North Carolina, where there were always a lot of African-Americans, the others were basically Scots-Irish white people, and now they have a huge Hispanic population. If you go to Queens, in New York City, which used to be primarily an Irish-Italian borough, and then the African-Americans came in, now there’s a massive infusion of Asians, both from East Asia and from South Asia. I went to an event for Hillary the other night. It was an Asian event, and everybody was from Queens. There’s a whole culture center there. There are different Asian shops and a shopping center and a big restaurant and a big public-events room, and all that kind of stuff.”

    Also, Conde Nast is shelling out for a triple-gatefold cover for the issue, which has 288 ad pages. Pic of the gatefold cover after the jump.

    — Neal Ungerleider

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    Fox News, New York Times Vandalizing Rivals’ Wikipedia Entries?


    Were staffers at Fox News and the New York Times engaged in Wikipedia vandalism on the job? It sure looks like it.

    A writer for tech publishers O’Reilly Media traced changes to Al Franken‘s Wikipedia entry to a Fox News IP address. Then bloggers Geeks Are Sexy compiled a list of Fox News’ extensive Wikipedia edits—which, among other things, de-loofahed Bill O’ Reilly, posted false information about the ratings of Fox News shows, accused Keith Olbermann of making light of Peter Jennings‘ death and deleted rating info for MSNBC programs.

    Now, over to the New York Times. Right-wing blog Little Green Footballs found that someone from within the New York Times edited George W. Bush‘s entry to call him a jerk. Classy. But, more interestingly, employees of the Times are apparently editing the Wall Street Journal‘s Wikipedia entry. Hmm…

    After the jump, a rundown of Wikipedia changes by the Times and Fox News.

    — Neal Ungerleider

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    Inside Seventeen

    0815seventeen.jpgRelatively in-depth media coverage from NewsweeK? It’s possible. We recently stumbled across an article about the life and times of Seventeen magazine from the venerable newsweekly… and it’s pretty good. Things we learned:

  • Seventeen is raking in plenty of dough. Monthly newsstand sales for the first half of 2007 are up almost 9% from 2006 and site traffic saw a 25% increase after an April 2007 redesign.
  • The MySpace aesthetic has taken hold at the mag: “By design, she says, the pages are “messy,” seemingly with “a million shapshotty pictures.”
  • EIC Ann Shoket belives wholesome celebs drive sales for the Seventeen demographic: “Girls are very smart… If they are giving attention and respect to a celebrity who’s not repaying them with the same respect, it’s not fair.”

    Looks like the post-Atoosa Seventeen is doing pretty well.

    — Neal Ungerleider

  • Vogue Documentary Close To Completion

    annawintour.jpgThe 840 page September issue of Vogue is on newsstands—which means A&E IndieFilm’s documentary on Vogue is almost done shooting.

    Directed by R.J. Cutler (The War Room, American High, Black. White.), the doc is focused on the making of Vogue‘s September issue. But we’re wondering how much Anna Wintour will be in it:

    “The notoriously frosty editor-in-chief gave the green light for a “feature-length documentary” on the making of Vogue’s huge September issue, known as “the Bible of fashion.” Eyebrows are raised because the last time she let a camera crew inside the office, Wintour gave them almost no face time, deferring to underling Plum Sykes to explain what Wintour was thinking. Insiders are also surprised because the filming could be disruptive.”

    — Neal Ungerleider

    Lawsuit Time For Don Imus

    Now that Don Imus has reached a settlement with CBS for (reportedly) $20 million, he’s learning that his troubles aren’t over yet. To noone’s surprise, he’s being sued by one of the Rutgers basketball players he insulted on air.

    Kia Vaughn filed a defamation of character lawsuit against Imus in Bronx Supreme Court yesterday. The lawsuit did not ask for a specified financial amount; CBS, MSNBC and Imus regular Bernard McGuirk were also named as defendants.

    “This is about Kia Vaughn’s good name,” her lawyer, Richard Ancowitz, said. “She would do anything to return to her life as a student and respected basketball player – a more simple life before Imus opened his mouth.”

    — Neal Ungerleider

    Law & Order: SVU Actor Arrested For Child Porn

    0814insinnia.pngAn actor who played a recurring role on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit was just arrested for child porn in New Jersey. Albert Insinnia, best known for playing Lt. Pizzelli on the 2004-2005 season of SVU, has been charged with two counts of posession of child pornography. The Bloomfield-based actor bought his computer into a local Best Buy for repairs and a technician discovered approximately 180 images of child porn on the PC’s hard drive. Insinnia, a part-time actor who also had bit parts on M*A*S*H and in several B-movies, told reporters he had no comment.

    We’re just waiting to find out what Law and Order lovin’ blog Gothamist will have to say about this.

    — Neal Ungerleider