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Posts Tagged ‘Tad Smith’

Lunch: Soledad O’Brien Talks Helping Haiti’s Children

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The media mob was out in force today at Michael’s and we spotted plenty of table hopping between bites. It was fascinating to see all the head honchos make the rounds while checking in with the competition. Who needs to eat anyway?

I was joined today by CNN’s anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, who I’ve known since her days as anchor of Weekend Today, and CNN publicist Van Scott. Since making the move to cable, Soledad, who left NBC in 2003 to anchor the network’s maiden season of American Morning, has gotten plenty of attention for her on-the-ground reporting of the tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricane Katrina. It was Soledad’s infamous interview with then FEMA chief Michael Brown that started the public outcry eventually leading to his resignation in September 2005.

After logging in plenty of air miles last year covering major news stories like the earthquake in Haiti, Soledad has unpacked her bags long enough to do a slew of documentaries that are kicking off next month. On May 8, CNN will premiere Rescued, an hour-long look at the plight of Haiti’s children told through the eyes of 6 year-old Cendy Jeune and former child slave Marc Kenson Oliphi. After being in Haiti immediately following the disaster, Soledad tells me she held orphans in her arms whose eyes had seen so much that “they looked old.” The documentary chronicles the lives of the children who are living in the Lighthouse orphanage where rather than being put up for adoption, they are instead taught skills, given an education, and encouraged to be valuable members of society when they “age out” of the orphanage at 18.

It was clearly a transformative experience for Soledad, herself a mother of four. She told me, “The best way to help Haiti is to help the children of Haiti help Haiti.” She’s planning on returning to the region next month with her 9 year-old daughter Sophia in tow. “My kids really want to do something to help. We’re going to ‘adopt a community’ and do what we can.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The lovely Pat Schoenfeld, in a chic red topper and matching loafers, with a few close pals.

2. Cablevision’s president Tad Smith

3. Sony Pictures’ Steve Mosko

4. Steve Rubenstein and William Lauder

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Cablevision Exec Responds to Low Subscriber Numbers

cablevision_logo_med.gifThere has been much egg on the face of Cablevision after its pay wall plan for Newday.com was revealed earlier this week to have only 35 subscribers.

Tad Smith, Cablevision’s president for local media, reached out to Romenesko in an email declaring that the success of the pay wall initiative isn’t measured by the company in the number of people who subscribed to the $260-a-year service, but by “the change in unique visitors compared year over year in the New York metro area (our target audience).” And those unique visitors, according to Cablevision, have only decreased two percent in December 2009 compared to the same month last year. The slight decrease may be due in part to the fact that many of Newsday.com’s readers are Cablevision subscribers, and therefore get to read the site for free anyway.

Still, using a newspaper only to increase your subscriber sales isn’t anything to crow about, says Slate‘s Marion Maneker:

“Either way, Smith seems to be declaring that Cablevision’s $632 million acquisition of Newsday was simply to add another freebie to Cablevision’s subscription bundle. This was every analyst’s worst fear when it was announced that the Dolans had the winning bid for Newsday. Instead of expanding the subscription base for the newspaper and increasing advertising inventory for the cable business (buy a local ad on Cablevision and get a newspaper and Web ad as value-add), they paid a premium for some local content.”

So Cablevision is using Newsday not just as a newspaper, but as a way to sweeten the deal for Internet subscribers to choose their service. But that’s not to say that Newsday would be better off had Rupert Murdoch had purchased the paper in 2008. Whose to say the site wouldn’t be behind a pay wall in that scenario?

Read More: Newsday exec: We don’t measure success by how many people sign up to pay $260/year for our website –Romenesko

Cablevision Exec Defends Newsday Web Strategy –Slate

Previously: Newsday’s Pay Wall Experiment Yields Disappointing Results

Newsday Publisher Knight Resigns After 5 Years

knight.jpgTim Knight, the publisher of Cablevision-owned Long Island newspaper Newsday has resigned from his post. He will be replaced by Terry Jimenez, the publisher of amNewYork, the free paper also owned by Cablevision. Jiminez will now serve as Newsday‘s acting publisher, although Knight said he would stay on until November 1 to help with the transition.

In a letter sent to staffers yesterday, Knight touched on some of the challenges he has faced as publisher in the last five years:

“I am proud, as a team, we successfully addressed the circulation
misstatements and, in the process, strengthened relationships with our
advertisers as well as created a stronger circulation department. We
undertook a number of changes to the paper to better focus our
resources on providing Long Islanders with unique and valuable local
news and information. A recent effort by the newsroom to expose the
abuse surrounding the state pension system resulted in widespread
changes to better protect taxpayers. And, importantly, we recently
re-launched newsday.com, which will allow us to better provide our
subscribers with a unique and valuable multimedia web experience.”

However, beyond saying it was “the right time to let others move our business forward,” Knight did not give a reason for his departure. You can read more of Knight’s memo, as well as a memo from Tad Smith, president of Cablevision’s local media unit, after the jump.

Since Cablevision purchased Newsday last year, the paper has undergone a number of changes, from a new layout (that looks more like amNewYork), to a new Web site, launched in July.

Newsday Publisher Tim Knight ResignsNewsday

Related: Newsday Revamps Web Site

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Breaking: Reed Elsevier To Sell Part Of U.S. Business

pw.pngIn a memo to staffers today, Reed Business Information Global CEO Keith Jones revealed a plan to divest a bulk of the company’s U.S. publications. RBI will hold on to Reed Construction Data US & Canada, RS Means, Variety, Marketcast, LA411 and Buyerzone, Jones said. The rest of the U.S. titles will be sold, including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News.

“We have decided to focus our efforts and investments on a narrower range of brands and markets, and with this in mind we are announcing today our intention to divest a significant part of the RBI US business,” Jones said in his memo. “This has been a difficult decision to reach as there are many strong brands here, with very experienced and professional teams running them, but we have concluded that they are less well suited to RBI’s strategy going forward.”

Jones also added that Tad Smith, CEO of RBI’s U.S. business, has resigned “to pursue a new job challenge.” He will be replaced by EVP and CFO John Poulin, who has been appointed acting CEO.

Jones’ memo is below. We will keep you posted as news develops. And, as always, your tips are welcome.

Update: RBI’s parent Reed Elsevier has put out a statement and a full list of those properties that have been put on the block — nearly 50 publications plus their related international editions and online products. “We have had to contend with a far harsher advertising environment than any of us have experienced before and, in such a climate, we have to focus not just on innovation and efficiency, but also on ensuring that our portfolio is well-matched with our long-term ambitions,” Jones said.

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Staff Cuts At Variety

Logo-Variety2.jpgMichael Speier, Executive Editor of Variety, has been laid off. More cuts are expected to come at Variety throughout the day. The parent company of the publication, Reed Business Information, is laying off 7% of their staff today according to a memo obtained by The Wrap. From the memo sent by Tad Smith, CEO of RBI:

We recently completed our quarterly forecast for the full year and the revenue outlook continues to concern us. On January 26th I wrote to you that we might reduce further our staffing levels if the economic circumstances became worse than our already conservative expectations for 2009. We are in that unfortunate situation today.

Smith also warns staff that more cuts and furloughs may be on the horizon.

Madelyn Hammond Rejoins Variety

hammond_madelyn.jpg Variety Entertainment Group announced a new job — and a former hire. Former Associate Publisher of Variety, Madelyn Hammond, has been plucked to become Variety’s Chief Marketing Officer, a position the company has never had.

The press release explains it all:

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