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Archives: April 2010

Shafer: Paying Sources Isn’t Wrong, Just Expensive

money large04302010.jpgIn response to the ongoing intrigue surrounding the Case of the Wayward iPhone, Slate‘s Jack Shafer examines the moral and practical implications of paying sources for information. (Gawker Media ponied up $5,000 for its iPhone exclusive.)

Shafer says paying for information isn’t always bad, wondering aloud whether people would have minded if Daniel Ellsberg had charged The New York Times for a look at the Pentagon Papers, or whether it would have been so bad if some $$ had greased the skids to get the Abu Ghraib photos published sooner. In those circumstances, the way of getting the information wouldn’t be as important as the information itself.

But, there are caveats. Shafer also says it would cost too much to sort through all the information that would flood the market. He then goes on to say that paying for stories poses an economic problem:

In my nightmare scenario, sources of free information would dry up and people would charge a metered rate just to talk. As my questions started to converge upon the answers I was looking for, I’d become hostage to my source as he flipped the flag on his meter and said, “More questions? More money!” Oh, the haggling that would ensue! Where would I ever find the time to file the actual story?

He then goes on to admit that there’s already a lot of money changing hands (TV networks routinely pay sources for photos and comp their travel). Since that’s the case, we’d venture, Shafer’s nightmare scenario is already here.

Fishbowl6thBorough: Greg Osberg Named Philly Papers’ New Publisher

olsberg_4.30.10.jpgGreg Osberg, formerly the president and publisher of Newsweek, is the new publisher and CEO of the Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer and

In taking the helm at the yet-unnamed company (formerly Philadelphia Newspapers LLC), Obserg is set to pave the way towards focusing more on digital media initiatives, such as providing content for smart phones or the iPad.

Osberg’s appointment comes one day after the bankrupt company was auctioned off to its lenders for $139 million.

Financial Times Publisher’s Revenue Grows 7% in Q1

pearson-logo-on-white04302010.jpgPearson (PSO), the company behind the Financial Times, today announced that its first-quarter revenue rose 7% to $1.66 billion. Part of the increase was due to improving newspaper-ad sales.

The Guardian reports:

FT Publishing, the division that owns the Financial Times, has seen strong demand for subscriptions in print and online and “return to growth” in advertising revenues contribute to a “good first quarter”. Like pretty much all media owners, Pearson suffered “sharp declines” in ad revenues in 2009.

“We are encouraged by a more positive environment for corporate and financial advertising, but booking remain volatile and visibility remains poor,” the company said.

The company expects profit to grow in 2010. Pearson also owns Penguin Publishing and a piece of The Economist.

AP to Launch News Registry, Football Microsite This Summer

The Associated Press announced yesterday that it will begin pursuing new digital initiatives, after the news collective’s board of directors voted unanimously to do so.

The board resolved to pursue new opportunities related to Web search, content distribution and social networking. “Within a year, we will be in a position, as an industry, to play on any device and build audiences with our own tools and products. That’s the new day we’ve been working toward,” said Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP board of directors.

In one specific digital innovation, the news organization announced the launch of a News Registry and a “destination microsite” geared toward college-football fans who follow the AP’s Top 25 poll. The football project is slated to launch in August.

The AP expects its News Registry to involve the participation of 600 newspapers by the time it launches on July 14.

Leopold Froelich Promoted At Playboy

Playboy‘s Leopold Froehlich, the magazine’s current executive editor, has been promoted to managing editor.

Froelich has been with Playboy for 19 years.

Film Critic Todd MCarthy Joins IndieWire

mccarthy_4.30.10.jpgTodd McCarthy, formerly the film reviewer for Variety, has joined the team at indieWire. McCarthy has already begun writing his “Deep Focus” column, in which he’ll offer critiques and information on movies and international film festivals.

In his inaugural post, McCarthy is not exactly shy about sharing his feeling about his involuntary departure from Variety. He writes:

It’s been a few weeks since my unceremonious departure from Variety, and I have spent that time getting rewired; indieWIRED, to be corny and specific, but, more generally, refitted from being an old print guy to one ready to jump into the deep end of all-electronic, all-the-time film commentary on my own site, “Todd McCarthy’s Deep Focus.”

In the wake of the surprising tempest that broke out when Variety cast me off along with my esteemed critical colleagues and close friends Derek Elley in London and David Rooney in New York, I was amazed and somewhat embarrassed by the attention it all received, but deeply gratified by the support that came from so many quarters.

Well, Todd, we hope that the transition from print to online is a smooth one and that the “wired” puns run fast and plentifully.

Associated Press Reports Narrowed 2009 Profit

ap04302010.jpgIn 2009, The Associated Press earned $8.8 million, a profit that was 65% lower than in 2008, the news cooperative has announced.

Revenue fell 10% to $676.1 million. The AP also forecast falling revenue for 2010. If that prediction holds, the AP will have posted its first back-to-back revenue declines since the Great Depression. The company also reduced payroll expenses by 10% through “attrition, buyouts and layoffs.”

The news organization said that it would have lost money in 2009 if it weren’t for a one-time, $13.2 million benefit relating to its sale of a German-language news service.

Historically, the AP has gotten much of its revenue from the contributions of member newspapers. These days, though, the co-op is diversifying revenue streams and even cutting back on the dues it charges newspapers and broadcasters, “to help them deal with their own financial woes.”

The Internet was at least partly to blame for the difficulty, said the AP:

The financial pressures facing the AP and other long-established media have been mounting in recent years as more people get their news for free on the Internet and advertisers shift more of their spending to less expensive online outlets. The Internet’s emergence as a marketing medium has hurt newspapers in particular because they make most of their money from print ads.

Conan Talks Leno

186conan60.jpgSunday night’s upcoming 60 Minutes features an interview with Conan O’Brien, and he has a few things to say about that Jay Leno fellow. From the NY Times:

“If I had surrendered The Tonight Show and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well,” Mr., O’Brien says, referring to Mr. Leno’s on-the-air hand-off of the show to Mr. O’Brien last May, “and then… six months later. …” Mr. O’Brien adds, referring to Mr. Leno’s willingness to return to the show.

“But that’s me, you know,” Mr. O’Brien says. “Everyone’s got their own, you know, way of doing things.”

And some ways of doing things are backstabbier than others.

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Goodnight to Bill Moyers’ Journal

The final episode of Bill Moyers’ Journal airs tonight on PBS after nearly 40 years on the air. Moyers, who is a couple weeks shy of 76, blogged that he was retiring the show because “there are some things left to do that the deadlines and demands of a weekly broadcast don’t permit.”

Over at The Daily Beast, writer and filmmaker Randy Bean reflects on how she was shaped by working under Moyer:


He taught all of us on his production staff how to write evocatively for the spoken word. Writing voiceover narration is very different from writing for print publication. The ear hears differently than the eye sees.

Plus there are pictures, always pictures, so you work hard to avoid the ever-present “see it, say it” trap. Moyers has impeccable standards when it comes to writing. Listen to one of his commentaries sometime, with your eyes closed. It’s lyrical stuff-expressive, deeply felt, personal yet globally relevant, beautifully constructed.