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Former MTV Newser Gideon Yago on Michael Jackson: ‘The Things That Bring You Out of Retirement’

MichaelLiz.jpgWe bumped into sometime-cohort Gideon Yago of The IFC Media Project this morning on the 6, where talk quickly turned to yesterday’s tragic passing of Michael Jackson. Amid the Jackson-fueled media barrage, we were struck by the sight of former MTV Newsman Yago back on screen discussing pop stars. Evidently, he was too: “The things that’ll bring you back out of retirement,” he cracked, adding that he was en route to Times Square to do additional spots discussing the Jackson story, following his CNN appearance yesterday with Anderson Cooper in which he recalled interviewing the pop legend who may or may not have been sober at the time (“my initial impression was… this guy is on something”) and pointed out Jackson’s tangled finances (“he was $400 million in debt as of last year” and “five months ago he was uninsurable”). Yago’s got a piece over at the Daily Beast about the cognitive dissonance that arises when celebrity news butts up against international conflict (Iran what?): He regales his account of interviewing Jackson four days prior to 9/11, at an event that had the then-junior reporter grateful he’d “experimented with acid in high school.”) More on that, the identity issues surrounding Jackson that may never be understood (but were notably absent from early posthumous coverage of the star), Jackson’s money men and the video Yago “can’t believe no one’s posted yet,” that somehow ties it all together. Suffice it to say, a lot got covered in four stops…

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‘True’ Confession: We Talk to Ad Sales All The Time

a1a11111111.jpgWe really don’t do this often — oh, screw it: I’m not even using that blog convention of the royal ‘we’ for this one. It’s me, managing editor Rebecca Fox, speaking on behalf of my editorial colleagues in a rare fit of first-person. I’m here to tell you something I hope, for the sake of the larger media world, will stop sounding shocking someday soon…

We here in mb editorial talk to our advertising team All.The.Time. We trust them, we rely upon them, we like them. Do they dictate what we do and don’t cover? No way. Do we stay abreast of what they’re working on, as it pertains to the content we work so hard to produce, day in and day out? Abso-freakin’-lutely. And that relationship makes what each of our teams is trying to accomplish run better.

They tell us about novel campaigns and initiatives they’re working on, we apprise them of new and interesting things we’re doing, and in doing so, we roundly reject the notion of ‘never the twain shall meet’ that we’re seeing so much of this week, courtesy of the still-sputtering controversy over Gawker Media’s partnership with HBO that begat ‘BloodCopy,’ the recent Gawker blog acquisition that wasn’t. Best of all, mb salespeople come to us of their own accord to ensure nothing they’re planning or have executed, sponsorship- or sales-wise, scans as even remotely questionable or corrosive to the journalistic credibility that is central to what we do.

We believe that being in constant communication with those charged with selling our content makes our business better. Not just from a sales standpoint, but more importantly: it shores up the integrity we know we can continue to proudly associate with our content. Simply put: We know they’re not messing with what we do in a way that makes us feel icky. Furthermore, we think edit folk who say they don’t interact with their sales teams are either full of it, or not doing the smartest thing with their business in this new (as in ‘novel,’ not necessarily ‘online’ — though the two obviously converge) media world in which we all now reside.

Old-line church-and-state boundaries between advertising and editorial are undergoing a transformation. Here’s why that’s not such a bad thing what’s best for the media business…

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Introducing Your New FishbowlNY Editor

ae_headshot1.jpgIf you read this blog with any regularity, you’ve probably noticed a new fishie up in this ‘Bowl. Let’s make it official, shall we? Meet your new FishbowlNY editor, Amanda Ernst

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Twittering The Ellies

It’s what we’ve been jawing about all week: The National Magazine Awards, or ‘Ellies,’ (or awards show where we don’t get the fondue fountain this year) are tonight, and we’ll be all aTwitter. Follow along here for the fun stuff (namely, the parts where those partaking of the still-hopefully-flowing Champagne tell us what they really think of their editors/writers/President/Web users).

Page Six Magazine EIC Only Staffer To Remain As Weekly Goes Quarterly

p6091508.jpg The entire staff of Page Six Magazine will be packing up their desks on the heels of today’s announcement that the weekly New York Post insert would move to a quarterly publication schedule. A former staffer tells FishbowlNY that the only full-time employee left standing will be editor-in-chief Margi Conklin, who will put out the magazine with a team of freelancers after the final weekly edition gets tucked into the Post on Sunday, February 15, 2009.

However, it’s not all heartbreak once the mag moves to its quarterly schedule just after Valentine’s Day…

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Confirmed: Reader’s Digest Association to Cut 8 Percent of Workforce

rdrsdgstcoverlyffs09.jpg As FishbowlNY reported Wednesday afternoon, Reader’s Digest Association said late the same night that it will eliminate 8 percent of its global workforce in what it has dubbed its “Recession Plan,” according to a company release.

In addition to staff reductions, other initiatives RDA will be implementing as part of the plan to cut cost and stave off further layoffs include the suspension of 401K matching and the introduction of unpaid time off in fiscal ’09 and ’10. “We hope and expect that most of these moves will be temporary,” RDA CEO and president Mary Berner said in the statement.

According to a company spokesperson, no magazine closings are being announced as part of this plan. Whether they’re on the way as part of some other plan remains to be seen.

Full release after the jump.

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Which Media Holiday Parties Can’t Be Stopped?

santa.jpgIn these dark economic days, it’s pretty badass to be celebrating anything. We’ve told you all about the media party cancellations — now we want to focus on the few, the proud: The Media Parties That Will Go On, Come Hell or High Water.

If your company is still planning a holiday party, tell us here so we can spread the good cheer. Fill in the short form, and let us know the details. (Open bar? Top shelf alcohol or just beer, wine and pretzels?)

We assume your holiday party is closed to non-company attendees, so when asked for info that does not apply (i.e. “How to RSVP”) just write “N/A” in those fields. We’ll then compile the entire list in a week or so and present it for all to view in our events newsletter, The Press List.

Submit your holiday party.

IFC Media Project’s Gideon Yago: ‘When Newspapers Take It On The Chin, You Lose Support For Reporting’


Through segments analyzing how thorny topics get covered (such as “The Elusive Missing White Girl,” a.k.a. when middle class child-kidnapping cases dominate the news cycle), interviews with journalists, and cheeky insights into common media parlance (i.e. journos’ tendency to use “allegedly” to cover their collective ass), The IFC Media Project (premiering tonight at 8pm EST) spends its six episodes pulling back the curtain on how news gets made. We spoke with host and former MTV Newsman Gideon Yago (left, giving his best “What the f*ck, journalism?” which pretty much sums up the premise of the show), who filled us in on why, after burning out on “the various people who push on the news media” and “that dance of actually breaking the story,” IFC’s series exposing media’s inner workings brought him out of early TV retirement.

How’d the idea for The IFC Media Project come together and how did you come to host it?
The idea for the show came from Megan [O'Hara] and Nick [McKinney, co-creators and producers]. I got involved with it because I had done some stuff like it for CBS, MTV. We got to talking and then they said, how do you feel about eventually hosting this thing? I had been avoiding doing anything that’s broadcast, but this just seemed like the right thing to me.

Avoiding doing broadcast? Why?
I think some of it was just burnout on television and burnout on how television gets made. I started working for MTV when I was 21 and, the further it went on, the further I ran into the obstacle of working for news organizations at CBS and working for MTV and trying to get the kind of material that I wanted on there. It started to get me kind of bummed out. So I jumped out of the medium.

What’s the most important thing the IFC show strives to convey?
Mostly we just try and show the process. When I began working in journalism, which was in 2000, the recount in 2000 was the beginning of a sort of egg on the face of the media. Subsequently, I think the handling of run-up to the Iraq war and the low-level tabloidization, continuously, of cable news and the increasing emphasis on analysts, pundits and stars at the expense of beat reportage — it just seems like there is ample opportunity to criticize where the [journalistic] process was going wrong in the hopes of getting it back on track. Things are really running off of the rails [in journalism], and there’s no real regulation to correct it.

What do you think can be done to correct this “spectacular failure,” as you call it on the show?

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Women’s Mag Editors to Eat For Sixth Year In A Row

6thdinner.jpgContrary to whatever urban myth you’ve heard, senior-level women’s magazine editors do eat. In fact, we’ve seen them do so five years in a row at’s annual Dinner & Discourse event. Once again, tonight’s the night at Manhattan’s Twenty Four Fifth, and in addition to food, we can guarantee consumption of cocktails (tough economy+multiple liquor sponsors=a lock), as well a panel discussion led by New York Times writer Lisa Belkin. Newly-installed at NYT’s “Motherlode” blog, she’ll lead a discussion of strategies in a changing (read: challenging) new media/magazine marketplace with panelists editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray, Hearst Web site managing editor Erin Dailey, senior editor Betsy Fast, managing editor Elayne Fluker, and executive director Tanya Singer.

If you can’t make it tonight, be sure to check this space tomorrow for post-game coverage, including video…

To Our Readers: Media May Be Down, But It’s Not Out

As even infrequent readers of this blog can see, the media industry has been wracked with closures, layoffs, hiring freezes and more. This note isn’t designed to run you through bad news you already know or add to those reports. Rather, it’s to take a moment amid our industry’s tumult to renew our commitment to bringing you news and information that sheds light on our media world throughout these challenging times.

Whether you’ve personally experienced our industry’s contraction or feel the anxiety shared by so many in our field, we want to remind you: opportunity still exists in our business. Media may be down, but it’s not out:’s job board continues to list fresh jobs daily, and even organizations that have experienced contraction continue to post openings there.

Retrench, but don’t lay down — avail yourselves of all the offerings we design with just one goal in mind: to help you prevail in whichever aspect of media you wish to conquer. Finally, let us know if there’s anything further we can do to help you succeed and prosper.