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Neal

…And That’s All Folks

It’s always tough to write a goodbye post.

When I started here eight months ago, the big media news was Rupert Murdoch and the Wall Street Journal. Kurt Eichenwald was still in the news. Tyler Brule had just launched Monocle. Then, of course, we even ended up on The Colbert Report.

But enough with the damn flashbacks. Let’s just say that the months following have been some of the most exciting, journalism-wise, of my life.

Nonetheless, it’s time for me to move on. So here goes… Seriously, I just want to thank all of you for reading. Thanks to everyone who wrote in with tips and, in some cases, commentary of staggering genius. Thanks to Ron Mwangaguhunga for co-editing with me. Thanks to my fellow Mediabistro bloggers and editors for being a killer crew to work with. Thanks to Chris Ariens, Noah Davis and Rebecca Fox for being Mediabistro demigods above and beyond the call of duty. Most of all – cheers to Dylan Stableford and Laurel Touby for taking a chance on me in the first place.

As for me, I’ll be working on some new projects. I can still be found on the web at my personal site and at nealnyc AT gmail.com, if the need to contact me arises. And, please, be nice to the new editors.

In short: Thanks for making FishbowlNY a pleasure. See you around.

— Neal Ungerleider

Buzznet Purchases Stereogum, Launches Video Blog

0404stereogum.gifCheers to Stereogum founder Scott Lapatine. The indie rock blog was just sold for an undisclosed sum to Buzznet, who are taking the site on an ambitious expansion plan.

According to Lapatine:

“We have great respect for the ways in which Buzznet is revolutionizing the online music experience and we knew we had to be a part of this pioneering media company [...] Buzznet has a world class social platform and we have already taken advantage of their vast resources to build a great new look for the blog, as well as launch an entirely new community. Moving forward, Buzznet will be instrumental in creating new features and functionality that will take Stereogum to a whole new level while allowing us to maintain our unique voice and independence.”

First off for the newly purchased music blog is a project launch — with two names that should be familiar to the NYC new media community. Videogum is launching on Tuesday, April 8 with editors Lindsay Robertson (Comedycentral.com, Lindsayism) and Gabe Delahaye (Gawker, 23/6, corporate-casual) at the helm. According to Buzznet, Videogum “will focus on what’s happening in the world of pop culture programming, including television, movies, web shorts and video games.”

Full press release after the jump.

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Felix Dennis Reads His Poetry

Ever since Maxim founder Felix Dennis claimed in a Times of London interview that he once killed a man, he’s had to face up to the news that he might be facing a criminal investigation.

According to Ginny Dougary, who interviewed him for the Times:

“What sane person – a magazine publisher, no less, even if he were on medication, would tell a journalist (of all people) on the record, even after drinking a number of bottles of excellent wine, that he has killed a man? Dennis is such good company and a wonderful host that it feels bad- mannered to repeat his astonishing claim, but if this was a strange flight of fantasy – and in vino it’s not always a case of veritas – to pretend that you have killed someone, is a very questionable form of either humour or braggadocio.”

We don’t know whether Dennis’ odd claim is true… but we can offer up something else: Felix Dennis reading the poem “Never Go Back.”

It seems like sound advice for him right now.

Randi Rhodes Vs. Air America

0404rhodes.jpgYesterday, we wrote about how local Air America affilate WWRL no longer airs any Air America shows besides Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow.

But as of this morning, it looks like Rhodes is at war with Air America. To make a long story short… in a live, non-radio performance two weeks ago, Rhodes called Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton “f*****g whores.”

This being 2008, footage of the event made it onto YouTube (warning: NSFW video) pretty quickly.

Two weeks after the event, Air America was forced to do some last-minute damage control. So they suspended Rhodes for two weeks. The network says:

Air America has suspended on-air host Randi Rhodes for making inappropriate statements about prominent figures, including Senator Hillary Clinton, at a recent public appearance on behalf of Air America in San Francisco which was sponsored by an Air America affiliate station.

“Air America encourages strong opinions about public affairs but does not condone such abusive, ad hominem language by our Hosts,” said chair Charlie Kireker.

Now Rhodes has told the Huffington Post that Air America is “in breach of my contract and [has] damaged my hard won excellent reputation in the broadcast industry.”

Our guess is that WWRL will need a new show soon, or will at least be obtaining Rhodes’ broadcast from someone besides Air America.

Cory Booker’s Press Office Hates You

0404corybooker.jpgNewark mayor Cory Booker is one of the Democratic Party’s bright young hopes. The 37-year-old politician was the subject of a glowing New Yorker profile and pals around with celebrity Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Tiki Barber and Barack Obama.

He also has been noted for charming the hell out of media types and earning about a million positive writeups in the national press — not bad for the mayor of a city best known for its disastrous 1967 riots.

Which makes it all the more surprising to find out that his press office thinks of themselves as being at war with the press. In fact, his press office considers their relationship with the media to be (their exact word!) “warfare.”

You see, Newark’s Star-Ledger recently uncovered an internal memo from Desiree Peterkin Bell, communications director over at Newark City Hall.

According to the internal memo:

“The motivation and objectives of reporters are entirely in conflict with that of public officials and administrators. At the heart of the relationship with the press and government officials is warfare. [...] When senior administrators, and other administration officials are on the record in the press on unplanned policy announcements, or initiatives stakeholders and key influencers begin to view the organization as dysfunctional and undisciplined.”

Joan Whitlow of the Star-Ledger asks “is Spiro Agnew roaming City Hall?” All hyperbole aside, we think she has a point there.

Cory Booker has a reputation for good press relations. Regardless of whether there’s any veracity to the idea that the press and government officials are at “war,” we’d like to think that city governments don’t view journalists as some kind of mortal enemy.

But apparently, in this case, they do.

Trouble Abroad II: Journalists, Tibet & The Olympics

0404greatwall.JPG

The International Olympic Committee has decided on a press strategy to deal with Western publications’ tricky questions about unrest in Tibet and the 2008 games — a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach to the Chinese government’s heavy-handed reactions.

Reporters sans Frontieres obtained an internal PR memo from the IOC on how to deal with press questions regarding Tibetan unrest and questions regarding Darfur and Xinjiang province:

“The memo, written by the IOC’s public relations department, rules out any direct IOC involvement in resolving the Tibet crisis, even if it recommends that members express their concern. “China’s involvement in Tibet strictly concerns its social and political policy,” the memo says. “It is not related to the country’s hosting of the Games, nor to its relationship with the IOC.” The memo provides IOC members with a list of supposed human rights improvements in China. The announced resumption of dialogue between China and the United States, the signing of a UN covenant on human rights (that was never ratified) and China’s election to the UN Human Rights Council are some of the examples cited.”

Meanwhile, reporters in China are facing increasingly tricky situations. Lindsey Hilsum, a UK journalist reporting in China for Channel 4, told the Press Gazette about a government-sponsored tour of Lhasa that went wrong. Well, wrong for the Chinese government and the Chinese masses who watch state-run media — but right for the reporters:

“As the journalists were ushered into the Jokhang temple, in central Lhasa, 30 young monks burst in weeping and shouting that they had been falsely accused of violence, and imprisoned in the Jokhang. They said they loved the Dalai Lama, and that the people praying at the temple were Communist cadres placed there for show, not real Buddhist worshippers. It was all on camera. In China, CNN and BBC World run with a few seconds delay so the government can black out anything awkward, but it is somewhat embarrassing to censor your own official press tour. Those with satellite TV therefore saw what happened, but most Chinese get only state TV. On the news that night they saw a monk from the Jokhang management greeting the reporters, and no mention of the protest. The report went on to explain that the western media are “especially biased and prejudiced when it comes to reports on Tibet issues.”

Meanwhile, an English-language Chinese site criticizing Western media coverage of the Tibetan crisis has popped up using URLs like “anti-cnn.com,” “anti-bbc.com” and “anti-voa.com.”

The next few months are going to be interesting ones for Western reporters in China.

Trouble Abroad I: NYT Journalist Detained In Zimbabwe

0404bearak.jpgThe tense situation in Zimbabwe is leading to the detainment and arrest of foreign journalists. Barry Bearak of the New York Times was arrested yesterday along with an unnamed British reporter. According to police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena, “I can confirm that we have arrested two reporters at York Lodge for practicing without accreditation.”

Here’s what happened:

“A witness described an intimidating display of force outside the York Lodge, the hotel where Mr. Bearak and others were detained. Around 5 p.m., two pickup trucks with 10 to 15 armed riot police officers stationed themselves outside the hotel.

Soon after, reinforcements came, blocking off the hotel and searching it room by room, confiscating laptop computers, notebooks and cellphones. The raid was overseen by high-ranking police officials, said another witness who refused to be named.”

Times exec editor Bill Keller confirms that Bearak was arrested along with other American nationals on Thursday. The Times states that “we are making every effort to assure that he is well treated, and to secure his prompt release.”

The situation in Zimbabwe has become increasingly dangerous for journalists, who are granted and withdrawn “accreditation” at the whims of Robert Mugabe‘s government. Bearak, who wrote a Page One story in yesterday’s NYT about Zimbabwe, initially requested his byline be withheld from the aticle for personal safety reasons. He later withdrew that request, according to an quote by Times rep Diane McNulty in Editor & Publisher:

“We withheld Barry Bearak’s name at his request as a security precaution [...] But as more Western journalists used their bylines and as the story grew more prominent, Barry felt it was time to use his byline, which appeared in the latest editions of the newspaper.”

The European Union is actively intervening to secure Bearak’s release. Bearak is 58 years old.

(Image via Huffington Post)

Talk Radio Station Would Rather Air Informercials Than Air America

0403schultz.jpgLeft-wing NY talk station AM 1600 WWRL has reordered their schedule, knocking a number of Air America programs off the air… to make way, in one case, for infomercials.

Morning show host Lionel was taken off the air entirely to make room for health-related infomercials. Air America’s Clout is being moved to the overnight shift and Thom Hartmann has been dropped. Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton‘s syndicated show will now be aired on tape delay at 8pm.

But the big news is the hire of cult progressive radio host Ed Schultz (pictured), a populist in the Jim Hightower mode with a massive audience in the Midwest, South and Plains states. Schultz has been in New York this week doing promotion for the show.

Two Air America programs remain on WWRL: Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow. And the culling begins…

(Image via KFGO)

Artie Bucco’s Dark Secret

Over in the East Village, Lizz Winstead (The Daily Show, Air America) has been putting on Shoot the Messenger, a weekly live action morning show parody that recently got some love from the New York Times and New York Press. The addition of an interview segment with guests like Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Susie Essman and Chuck D doesn’t hurt matters either.

We stopped by on Monday night, and it was absolutely brilliant. Winstead is fighting the good fight and using the stage to do the kind of open-ended, vitrolic political parody that’s pretty rare nowadays. It has more of a raw edge than, err, certain television parody shows and we appreciate it.

In the clip above, faux-morning show hosts Winstead and Baron Vaughn join Tom Gilroy to find out a deep dark about The SopranosJohn Ventimiglia in a very special episode of Celebrity Predator.

Details‘ New Publisher Is Kinda Familiar

0403details.jpgDetails has a new publisher with a familiar name. It’s Steve Deluca. Although his last gig was as associate publisher of Condé Nast Traveler, let’s go back in time a bit.

Back in 2006, DeLuca left Rolling Stone under unclear circumstances. Some said it was due to declining ad sales, some said it was due to affairs with coworkers, others said it was due to a dispute with Jann Wenner.

So Steve DeLuca then worked at Maxim as associate publisher. Then, of course, he moved on to Condé Nast Traveler.

(Not to mention that before Rolling Stone, he was associate publisher of Vanity Fair until 2004.)

Steve DeLuca, for this game of musical media chairs, we salute you.

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