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Archives: October 2007

Is Journalism Getting Too Close to Entertainment?

By a slim margin — 51 % to 49 % — FishbowlNY readers sided with Rosie O’Donnell over Bill O’Reilly in yesterday’s book signing hijack. Jon Friedman, in his latest MarketWatch column chides journos for sucking up to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (As yesterday FishbowlNY wondered aloud about the Brian Williams-SNL strategy), which leads us to today’s question:

Poll SurveyTake Our Poll

Arianna, Plame on Charlie Rose Tonight


Tonight we finally get to see a Valerie Plame-Charlie Rose interview. Last night Charlie Rose said: ”A quick note, Valerie Plame was supposed to be on … but because of the length of the interview (Ed Note: with Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed Elbaradei) we will be on tommorrow with Arianna Huffington.”

Plame, believing she had been bumped, blogged on October 22 on The Huffington Post (In a post which drew 170 responses):

”I just learned the other day that my scheduled Tuesday appearance on the Charlie Rose show has been canceled. The show’s producer said it was because Charlie Rose wanted to prepare for an appearance next week by CIA Director General Michael Hayden. How ironic is that? I could have told Mr. Rose a few things about General Hayden, but I’m sure he’ll do a fine job with his interview questions without me.”

We look forward to her telling Charlie in person.

(image via bbc)

”Mr. Magazine” on the New Readers Digest


”Mr. Magazine” Samir Husni is the Chair of the Journalism Department at the University of Mississippi, and, in his spare time, a dedicated blogger on the subject of magazines. Dr. Husni has been critical of the direction Readers Digest has been veering in under the leadership of Jacqueline Leo. This past July, after sinus surgery, Dr. Husni — stirred by the connection with DeWitt Wallace, who conceived of RD in a hospital — blogged a critique of the new magazine. Jackie Leo responded, eloquent and passionately, in part, ”Had the Wallaces lived to see the explosion of television channels, the Internet, the rise of Google, the speed with which information and ideas travel, they would have had two choices: Reflect the cultural shifts in the society by evolving the magazine and staying in the center of the mass market, or, reduce the circulation to that of, say, The Virginia Quarterly and hope that people would still want to read it.”

FishbowlNY asked Dr. Husni via email his thoughts.

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Big Changes at Readers Digest


Since February’s takeover of Readers Digest Association by the private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings, the 85-year old company has undergone many changes. Mary Berner was named President and CEO. In March, Eva Dillon was named President. Jeff Wellington was named publisher at the end of September. And last month, Bill Beaman left as Readers Digest Washington Bureau Chief to become EIC of Campaigns and Elections.

A tipster emailed FishbowlNY, ”Internal grumbling from older staffers that Jackie is moving into uncharted territory.” FishbowlNY took the charge to Readers Digest’s editor Jackie Leo. She responded via email, ”(I’m) not sure what you mean by ‘older,’ but some of the most dramatic changes are being led by our veteran staffers. In fact, our new management asked us to show them our dream version of RD. So we did.”

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The Daily Angle: Wednesday, Oct. 31

Google aims for mobile phones, MTV wants YOU to direct a music video, and goes green. Here’s today’s Daily Angle.

Slate Launching Business Site

It’s going to be funtime for freelancers. Slate is launching a business site. Deputy editor David Plotz told the Observer that while the project is still waiting for final approval from Post executives, it will most likely be released under the Slate brand with a logo at the top of a home page.

Expected launch date could be as early as next summer and it will “follow the same basic staffing model that has helped make Slate a success—using a few editors and assistants to run the operation, while relying for content mostly on freelancers.”

But who will be the editor in charge? Ex-Gawker and ex-DealBreaker Elizabeth Spiers turned them down… But she’s been asked to write for the site, as has Slate businesss columnist Daniel Gross.

Why Are There Hidden Messages In The New Louis Vuitton Ad?


Back in July, Louis Vuitton announced that Annie Liebovitz would photograph Mikhail Gorbachev for a fashion mag advertisement for the September books.

But New York‘s Daily Intelligencer noticed something about Gorby’s ad (besides the ex-Soviet premier spending his sunset years flogging luggage to well-heeled types) seems amiss.

In the advertisement, Gorbachev is photographed riding in a limousine past the ruins of the Berlin Wall with only a Louis Vuitton bag keeping him company. The Vuitton bag has what appears to be a book or a magazine sticking out.

The book is placed upside down, but the Russian-language text on it appears to read “Litvinenko‘s Murder — They Wanted to Give Up a Suspect for $7000.” Litvinenko, of course, being Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB agent widely assumed to have been killed by Russian intelligence via polonium-210 poisoning.

Uhm… Wow.

Was the book Gorbachev’s idea? Liebovitz’s idea? It doesen’t seem to be photoshopped… and was someone at the NYT prescient? They described the ad back in September:

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the ads include other celebrities using Vuitton bags: Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf cuddling in a hotel room, their bags not yet unpacked; Catherine Deneuve resting on a trunk in front of a steaming locomotive; and Mr. Gorbachev in the back of a car with a duffel bag on the seat next to him. Of the group, Mr. Gorbachev appears the least comfortable. He is holding on to a door handle, as if the bag contained polonium 210.

Weird. In any case, we’ll go back to spotting black helicopters and reporting on news that creeps us out a lot less.

(Hat tip and photo: New York/Daily Intelligencer)

The WGA Strike: What New Yorkers Need To Know


Okay. The Writers Guild of America strike (aka “Hollywood writer strike”) is around the corner. Most scripted television productions in New York City will be affected — either their workplaces are WGA-affiliated or members of other unions will go in for sympathy strikes. Here is what we know:

  • Over at LA Weekly, Nikki Finke says the strike will start Friday.

  • Scripted television-related unions with a NYC prescence have been encouraging their members to honor the strike. There have even been rumblings about the strike kicking off on Thursday evening?

  • The strike will have a significant effect on our favorite pet story, Stephen Colbert for President. Most of Colbert’s “campaign advisors” and “campaign staffers” are, of course, his writers. The Colbert Report is a WGA workplace. Writers on strike = no Colbert campaign.

    Any additional info? Use the tip box to the right. All tips will remain anonymous unless otherwise requested.

    Update: Finke has more.

  • Portfolio Rationalizes Their Job Departures

    Interesting: MarketWatch founder Larry Kramer has been bought aboard at Portfolio as a web consultant in the wake of Chris Jones‘s departure.

    But what spin are Portfolio‘s higher-ups putting on the magazine’s near-legendary startup struggles?

    That it’s not as bad as other magazines:

    [David] Carey said a lot has been said in the media about the departures at Portfolio, but he claimed the eight staffers who’ve left during the past 18 months — out of about 90 total editorial staffers — represents the lowest attrition rate for a launch at Condé Nast. He said there has been circulation success, adding that business schools are calling and asking for copies of the magazine. And when asked how long the publication has to succeed, Carey said the time frame at Condé Nast is usually a decade. “Some of our greatest competition is in the Condé Nast building,” Carey admitted, without, of course, naming names.

    It’s ‘Miss AMC Wrap-up’ To You

    AMC.jpgWe came to windswept Boca Raton, we saw mag editors’ eyes widen at all the online work they had to do to keep pace with readers’ needs, and we conquered our fear of being wrapped in our colleagues’ cigar-scented embrace. Check out all the news that was fit to type on the 2007 American Magazine Conference, and we’ll see you next year in San Francisco, where we’ll all be another year behind the technologies our <a href="Silicon Valley siblings will be lined up to tell the magazine industry it should’ve gotten into already.

  • AMC 2007: ‘Don’t Put Content on Lockdown’ Google Exec Urges Mag Eds’
  • AMC 2007: ‘Privacy is an Old Man’s Concern’ LinkedIn Prez Says
  • AMC 2007: User-Generated Content Cues: ‘Set Up the Scenario and Then Get Out of the Way’
  • AMC 2007: Adam Moss on Being EIC: ‘You Get Paid to Be a Dilettante
  • AMC 2007: NBC Prez: Content Providers Must Know Consumers ‘Like We’ve Never Known Them Before’
  • AMC 2007: Rather Warns of ‘Inevitability’ in Presidential Race
  • AMC 2007: Mag Publishing ‘Behind’ on Integrated Marketing
  • AMC 2007: ASME Opens Eight Ellie Categories to Online Entrants
  • AMC 2007: Online, ‘The Consumer Is Way Ahead of Us’
  • AMC 2007: It’s ‘Miss Black,’ Says Cathie; Eds Take Page From Entourage, Hug It Out
  • AMC 2007: Better Homes & Gardens Anointed Ad Age Magazine of the Year
  • AMC 2007: Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: “There Are Raging Arguments” Within Bush’s White House
  • AMC 2007: Blame it on the Rain (or the Assistant)
  • So What Do You Do, Howard Polskin, Sr. VP, Magazine Publishers of America
  • So What Do You Do, Cindi Leive, Editor, Glamour?