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Archives: December 2008

Morning Media Menu: December 31

mornmm.gifToday on Morning Media Menu — our newly-launched audio podcast based around the Morning Newsfeed and blog network — Happy almost New Year! Though, not so much for the NYT, which is currently being sued. Also, on the table, today’s NYT story about the sale of Consumerist, which fails to mention that FBNY broke news of the impending deal two(!) weeks ago. And what Steve and I learned this year. There was a whole lot to choose from.

Consumerist Sale: The Release


America’s most trusted consumer advocate bolsters new media offerings; Purchase comes during period of organization’s continued growth

Yonkers, NY — Consumers Union (CU), the highly trusted, independent publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and, has purchased from Gawker Media. The popular consumer watchdog blog will operate independently of Consumer Reports publications and be the first property housed under a new non-profit entity called Consumer Media LLC. The change in ownership will be in effect as of January 1, 2009.

“We’re delighted to add this vibrant site to our portfolio of information products,” said Jim Guest, President and CEO of Consumers Union. “The Consumerist community is passionate about fair retail practices, truth in advertising, product safety, and other topics that Consumer Reports has championed for more than 70 years. The site is a perfect fit for advancing our mission of creating a fair, safe, and just marketplace.”

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Lobbyist Sues New York Times Over McCain Story

20mccain-190a.jpgThis has not been the best year ever for The New York Times. They’ve had to (finally) slash dividends, mortgage their pretty new building, and are currently attempting to sell their stake in the Boston Red Sox. Now, to cap it all off they are being sued! Remember that big 5000 word piece they did back in February on John McCain and lobbyists which insinuated that John McCain had had an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman — a story which, incidentally, made more than one media blunder list in the last few weeks — well Iseman has just filed a $27 million defamation lawsuit against the paper for giving a false impression about her and McCain’s relationship.

That The New York Times would make such aggressive and sensational allegations and insinuations in the face of on-the-record denials by Ms. Iseman and Senator McCain only reinforced the message to readers that The New York Times in fact believed that Ms. Iseman and Senator McCain had indeed engaged in an ‘inappropriate relationship,’ a relationship that was romantic, unethical, and a conflict of interest…Otherwise, reasonable readers would conclude, The New York Times would never have printed the story at all.

The Times has issued a statement saying that they “fully stand behind the article.”

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Gawker Slims Down for The New Year


Gawker Media is capping off 2008 by selling two of its blogs — Consumerist and the Hollywood gossip site Defamer. Yesterday, two weeks after FishbowlNY broke the story of talks between the two companies, The New York Times reported that Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, is buying the customer watchdog blog Consumerist from Gawker Media. In the article, the paper quotes Gawker publisher Nick Denton saying that he’s also “in talks” to sell the Hollywood gossip site Defamer. FishbowlNY has exclusively learned that, later in the afternoon, Denton sent out an email to his site leads revealing that Defamer has actually already been sold. Denton told his top editors that public announcement of the sale will come later today.

Denton put the Consumerist up for sale in mid-November at the same time that he folded his tech-industry gossip blog Valleywag into Defamer was never put on sale, but in his email, Denton says the company was approached about the site a few months ago and has been in talks with the buyer ever since. Denton’s missive did not reveal who will be purchasing Defamer, but that news should come out when the sale is officially announced later today.

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The FishbowlNY Newsstand: Your Morning Glance

IndieWire Top 10 Always A Hoot!

indiewire.gifIndieWIRE, under the watchful eye of Eugene Hernandez, has been eager to back underdog films and support anything that goes against the grain for more than a decade. They probably voted for Dennis Kucinich, but you ever know.

That said, the round-up of IndieWIRE staffers and contributors is always a good read. Here it is.

Take a look and see if your indie IQ is anywhere near the experts. My feeling is no. But if you have to indulge, buy yourself a black beret and foreign cigarettes and rent a few dozen indie films and dig right in.

At best, an education. At worst, a half-day you’ll never get back, but you’ll always remember.

Gawker’s Sheila McClear Respectfully Says Goodbye

custom_1230618813301_michaelcropped.pngNothing like ending the year with your own layoff post. Over at Gawker Sheila McClear is saying good-bye (incidentally leaving Gawker entirely girl-free!).

Still, I accidentally cried when he informed me of the termination of our mutually mercenary arrangement in the see-through glass box of a conference room. I was surprised by how much I cared. I mention this scene not because it is mine, but because it is wholly unremarkable, and it is being played out in workplaces across the country right now. (Two million jobs lost in 2008, says the Wall Street Journal.)

I was lucky to spend a year being a smart-ass for a living, although it would be irrationally hubristic to view Internet news-aggregating and the snark-blogging fishbowl as anything more than a Dadaist experiment. Still, it’s been more fun than most jobs should ever be — and thanks for the shot.

Read the entire thing here.

Former FBNY Editor’s Letter from Israel

Former FishbowlNY editor Neal Ungerleider (currently you can find him here) who moved to Israel at the end of July to start a long-planned MA program in Israel writes to say the current hostilities between Israel and Gaza are hitting pretty close to home (literally) but that he is fine.

Sorry for the group email but I wanted to get in touch with everyone just in case.

So it looks like Beersheva is now within range of rockets from Gaza. Two rockets just hit near my apartment — we heard them land audibly and saw the ambulances bringing injured to the hospital.

I’m okay and everyone in the apartment complex is safe. Both rockets (Higher-powered Grad rockets) hit within densely populated areas in central Beersheva. One exploded directly opposite a kindergarten — I’m just happy this happened at night and not at day.

It’s increasingly obvious there will be a ground invasion here — soldiers are being called up and many students at our university have gone on duty this week. Things are a bit quiet and my thoughts are with the soldiers and the civillians on the ground in Gaza. This situation is a mess and… hell… what can I say?

But I’m safe and am getting the real Israel experience, apparently.

BREAKING: OC Weekly Layoffs

ocweek.pngWe’ve just got word that OC Weekly’s managing editor Rich Kane, clubs editor Nate Jackson and staff writer and Trendzilla columnist Vickie Chang have all been laid off.

Plus Amanda Parsons, editorial assistant, has been reduced to part-time status.

Nice of Village Voice Media to wait until after Christmas…this time.

Bart Becomes A Softie Re: Will Smith

asmith2.jpgVariety editor Peter Bart, who has had his share of those nasty little “Memo to” columns over the years has certainly turned his naysaying around with the latest.

Suddenly, Bart is puckering up and smacking one on Will Smith‘s very wealthy behind.

Whether Smith actually needs such accolades is a question for the ages. But his movie “Seven Pounds” isn’t exactly tearing ‘em up at the box office.

Maybe it’ll help.