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The Crystal Ball

Millennial J-School Grad Starts New Assignment – ‘Are We Screwed?’

TheTyeeLogoAs some of you know, the leading J-school in Canada remains Carleton University in Ottawa. That’s where Geoff Dembicki graduated in 2008, although as he puts it in a new-series debut column today for The Tyee, it hasn’t exactly since then been All The Prime Minister’s Men:

After pursuing them [my dreams] through four years of journalism school, I graduated disoriented and broke into the recession. Among my cohorts I was lucky to land steady work with The Tyee, and in addition to living through one global crisis after another, I now began to chronicle them.

After six years of writing about ecological collapse, industrial greed and a political system hostile to change, hope for the future was the last thing I expected to find. But recently I started to sense its faintest glimmers. The global grip of polluting companies is slowly slipping. Sustainability is becoming a cultural norm. Millennials, self-obsessed though we may be, are seeking alternatives to the consumer lifestyles that created our current mess. These felt to me like tremors of a generational shift.

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Rolling Stone Wonders About Google Glass

It’s not quite the futuristic picture painted in Steven Spielberg‘s 2002 adaptation of Phillip K. Dick short story “The Minority Report.” But it’s pretty close:

A world where everyone on the street is instantly uploading to YouTube whatever they’re looking at will be a world where everyone is both continuously filming and being filmed, where everyone is both voyeur and object.

In a thought-provoking Rolling Stone blog post, Gary Susman touches all the relevant recent media bases – S.T. VanAirsdale‘s Tribeca Film essay, a photo of Michele Bachman tweeted by Luke Russert and the musings of documentary filmmaker Henry Alex-Rubin (Murderball).

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Bonnie Fuller Talks Kim-Kanye Baby Pics

From the moment Kanye West revealed from a stage that Kim Kardashian was pregnant, the race has likely been on among magazines like People and OK! for rights to the exclusive first photos of the famous couple’s child. Now that the baby girl has officially arrived, we thought we’d check in with a New York publishing figure who used to be in the thick of such cutthroat competition for the photo scoop.

“There’s a good chance the baby pictures will not be sold,” Bonnie Fuller, editor-in-chief of, tells FishbowlNY. “Since Kanye has been very vocal about his baby being kept private.”

Fuller suggests three likely scenarios through which the couple may choose to bypass a paid magazine exclusive and possible donation of proceeds to charity. One would be to follow the Tumblr lead of Jay-Z and Beyonce; another would involve setting up a cover story in a prestige magazine like Vanity Fair or Vogue, tying in a photographer of the couple’s choice. The third possibility connects to Monday July 15.

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E&P Columnist Pens Parting Blows

citizenkkane.jpgWhen it was announced earlier this month that Editor & Publisher would be closing after over a century of publishing, it was the crappy cherry atop an awful year for news organizations shuttering titles, going bankrupt or closing completely. As we go towards 2010 with one foot still in 2009, it’s always fun to take a good, hard look back at what happened and ask ourselves, “Whose fault is this?”

At least that’s what Steve Outing is doing. In his final column for E&P, Outing writes that 15 years ago he would never imagined that “the newspaper industry would fail to benefit from the Internet, and bequeath opportunities to eager entrepreneurs who did capitalize, big time, at the expense of newspapers.”

Wait, what? What entrepreneurs are we talking about here, exactly? Media moguls like Nick Denton and Rupert Murdoch (the latter of the two still trying to figure out how to capitalize his newspaper holdings digitally)? Outing imagines a recreation of newspaper’s inglorious history, one in which (among other things) publishers don’t try to buy out the competition in the early aughts, but instead focus on expanding their digital space despite the Internet bubble bursting.

By the time we hit where we are now, Outing suggests, “the late-2000s recession is ridden out by newspaper companies because they have diversified and grabbed the digital opportunities as they arose early on. There’s still room to invest and focus on the next big media opportunity: mobile content and services.”

So the issue here isn’t that news orgs were greedy in a dramatically ironic Citizen Kane sort of way, but that they weren’t greedy in the right medium? That again leads us back to the question of what eager entrepreneurs Outing is talking about, and if they aren’t, in fact, the idealization of what he imagined to be the perfect publisher?

Read More: Goodbye, for Now: Looking ForwardEditor & Publisher

Previously: Could E&P Have Been Saved?, E&P Staffers Prepare To Vacate Offices This Week

Pay Walls And Advertisers: Do News Orgs Have To Choose?

wsj222.jpgWhen Long Island local newspaper Newsday decided to put its Web site behind a pay wall earlier this year, it seemed like an obvious conclusion that there would be less people visiting the site. If you start charging for a previously free item, your consumer-base is going to drop.

If this seems like common sense to most people, did everything in its power to convince the media that the 34 percent dip in its traffic once it enacted a pay wall was due to anything but the obvious $5 a week premium charge.

So why all the denial? still keeps advertising on its Web site, which creates two potential revenue streams for the publisher. Unfortunately, without readers swiping their cards for the site, Newsday‘s advertisers aren’t getting what they paid for in potential consumers.

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Folio Pulls Out All The Stops for Their 2010 Predictions

folio22.jpgWhile the rest of us are looking to our Magic 8 Ball for clues about next year’s publishing climate, Folio magazine has taken a different approach: the industry trade journal created a list of 115 predictions for 2010 by asking leaders in the field what they expect to see in the New Year.

The list is one-third “no-duh” (like Jim Spanfeller, former Forbes CEO’s prediction, “Digital media will continue to grow share”), one-third educated guessing (“The Apple Tablet will be more horse than unicorn,” says F+W director of audience development Guy LeCharles Gonzalez), and one-third wild speculation (nobody is going to start printing magazines on purple or puce paper, sorry Penton Media‘s Warren Bimblick).

See which ones you agree with. Will magazines make a “modest comeback” after all? Or will 2010 be the year that publishers realize “their magazine is no longer their brand?” Add your own predictions in our comments!

Read More: 115 Magazine and Media Predictions for 2010 — Folio

The Picture of the Year


This has to be it, no?

The Crystal Ball: Colombia Invasion? CIA Mystery Jails? Journos Being Shot At In Crawford?

And we’re back! Each week, FishbowlNY offers up their picks for the cream of the underreported news cycle. Are you a blogger? Journalist? Then these are the stories to keep an eye on:

  • Venezuelan sabre rattling: Venezuela’s aspiring Mussolini-in-training Hugo Chavez is preparing for his own, down-home invasion of Ethiopia by deploying troops to the Colombian border. Chavez’s justification? The murder of a Colombian rebel leader on Ecuadorean soil. Ecuador has also ordered troops to Colombia’s border, withdrawn their ambassador from Colombia and expelled Colombia’s ambassador to the country.

  • The island of mystery deportations: A newly released United Nations report claims that the tiny Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia was used as a secret American ‘black site’ to jail terrorists. According to a report that was leaked from the island, prisoners “were beaten even more severely than in Guantanamo.”

  • Those gun-happy Texans: A Danish journalist covering an event at President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, TX was nearly shot by an ornery local after accidentally tresspassing on her property. Dick Cheney was unavailable for comment.

  • The Crystal Ball: Artificial DNA, Dog Torture And Al Sharpton’s $50k Fee

    Each week, FishbowlNY offers up their picks for the cream of the underreported news cycle. Are you a blogger? Journalist? Then these are the stories to keep an eye on:

    (Un)mad Scientists Create Life: Barring a major setback, 2008 will mark the first year that scientists will be able to create life in the laboratory out of artifical, manmade DNA. According to Paul Rubinow, a UC Berkeley anthropologist who specializes in scientific ethics, “This raises a range of big questions about what nature is and what it could be… Evolutionary processes are no longer seen as sacred or inviolable. People in labs are figuring them out so they can improve upon them for different purposes.” Translation: The Almighty will no longer have a franchise on the creation of new life forms.

    Subtext: Insert your favorite horror movie here. The Canadian ETC Group states that “Ultimately synthetic biology means cheaper and widely accessible tools to build bioweapons, virulent pathogens and artificial organisms that could pose grave threats to people and the planet.” What happens when the technology to create artifical DNA becomes more easily available and falls into the hands of terrorists or hostile militaries? What happens if scientists make mistakes? What happens when the creation of life will be almost as easy as ordering from an Edmund Scientific catalogue?

    What Do Mike Huckabee’s Son & Michael Vick Have In Common?: Newsweek reports that one of Mike Huckabee‘s kids hung a stray dog for fun while serving as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp in 1998. David Huckabee, then 17, was investigated by the Arkansas State Police and fired by the Boy Scouts after news trickled out that him and another teenager tortured a dog that was found “hung over a limb and choking.”

    Subtext: This follows David Huckabee’s arrest in April for carrying a loaded gun in his carry-on luggage. Keep in mind that this incident of animal cruelty was reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette back in 1998. What happens when other news of Huckabee’s less-than-perfect family trickles out, like the time his other son was caught with marijuana and Huckabee Sr. sued alt-weekly Little Rock Free Press to supress the story?

    Al Sharpton’s Awesome Corruption Adventure: The Philadelphia Inquirer got their hands on a videotape of Al Sharpton offering to help a Philadelphia businessman win a multi-million dollar series of contracts if the businessman, Ronald A. White, raised $50,000 for causes and politicians associated with Sharpton. For his part, Sharpton claims there is “absolutely nothing illegal” about tying contracts to donations because he isn’t a public official.

    Subtext: As our friends at Radar say, Sharpton will be in the PR/ER shortly. Again.

    The Crystal Ball: Wait, Now James Watson Is Black.

    Each week, FishbowlNY offers up their picks for the cream of the underreported news cycle. Are you a blogger? Journalist? Then these are the stories to keep an eye on:

  • James Watson: It’s Not Racism, It’s Self Loathing: The Times of London got their hands on the genome analysis of DNA co-discoverer (and accused racist) James Watson. It turns out that Watson has sixteen times more sub-Saharan African genes than the average European. According to Kari Stefansson of deCODE Genetics, who performed the analysis, “this level is what you would expect in someone who had a great-grandparent who was African.”

    Subtext: Why did news of Watson’s DNA test make it into the Times of London? We’d say that Watson is making a last-minute PR bid to salvage his legacy from being tainted by the whole racism/brain power fiasco. It probably won’t work.

  • Putin Appoints A Successor… But What About Belarus?: Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced his support for sidekick Dmitri A. Medvedev as Russia’s next president. Odds are that Medvedev, currently First Deputy Prime Minister, will serve as a figurehead while Putin wields power behind the scenes.

    Subtext: The Kremlin refuses to deny reports that a union treaty will be signed between Russia and Belarus this week in Minsk. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Kremlin sources report that Putin will be the new provisional leader of the new union and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko will be speaker of parliament. This will also give Putin the chance to create a new Constitution. Two dictators in one country? Awesome.

  • Mike Huckabee’s Foot-In-Mouth Express: The great white hope of the Christian evangelicals might be Mike Huckabee, but the former dark horse candidate is going to face a tough week. There are charges Huckabee acted improperly in the parole of a convicted rapist who later killed a woman… as a political snipe against Bill Clinton. Then there’s the news that Huckabee argued in 1992 for isolating AIDS patients from society.

    Subtext: If Mitt Romney plays this one right, it might be smooth sailing for the trouble-plagued Mormon presidential candidate. Scandals surrounding his evangelical rival will only benefit him.

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