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Three Lessons Learned From Roger Ebert’s Career

By now you’ve probably heard that Roger Ebert passed away yesterday in Chicago. Having dealt with cancer and health-related issues head on since 2002, there’s no doubt he made a mark in journalism and fought ’til the very end. Here are several things we can learn from Ebert’s illustrious career.

1. Become your own brand. Before this even became en vogue, Ebert was already doing it. When you thought of movie critics and columnists back in the day, there’s no doubt his name would come to mind. And depending on your generation, perhaps his show, Siskel & Ebert At the Movies, would come to mind. Or how about the ubiquitous thumbs up or thumbs down approach regarding a movie?

As per The New York Times obituary, President Obama said in a statement, “For a generation of Americans — especially Chicagoans — Roger was the movies. When he didn’t like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive — capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical.”

Again, he was a brand: “Roger was the movies.” Read more

Media Beat: Lori Greiner Talks About Swimming with the Sharks

If you like watching rich people buy things on TV or prefer doing it yourself while watching QVC, then you’re probably familiar with Lori Greiner.

Greiner, known as the “Queen of QVC,” is also a regular on the ABC show “Shark Tank” where those that have millions listen to pitches from those that have little more than a million dollar idea.

SocialTimes editor Devon Glenn sat down with Greiner to talk about the show, her reign on QVC and if any of the products she’s invested in on “Shark Tank” have any bite.

For more videos, check out our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

Discover Announces New Staff Changes

Earlier this year, Discover magazine, purchased by Kalmbach Publishing, finally announced it was moving to Wisconsin from New York to be based with Kalmbach’s other titles.

About 20 edit and design staff were invited to move to Wisconsin; only two took Kalmbach up on its offer, Folio: reports.

So earlier this week, Discover announced its new staff lineup—13 new hires. The staff includes:

  • Two senior editors: Tasha Eichenseher, formerly environment editor and producer at National Geographic Digital Media
  • Siri Carpenter, founding editor of The Open Notebook
  • Kathi Kube, acting managing editor and former ME of Kalmbach’s Trains
  • Photo editor Ernie Mastroianni, from Kalmbach’s BirdWatching magazine
  • online editor Lisa Raffensperger
  • Bill Andrews, associate editor
  • Alison Mackey, senior graphic designer
  • Gemma Tarlach, associate editor
  • Breanna Draxler, staff writer
  • Elisa Neckar, editorial assistant
  • David Lee, copy editor.

It’s a good week, PR-wise, for Discover to announce these talented hires. Last week Discover bloggers Ed Yong and Carl Zimmer announced that they were taking their popular blogs to National Geographic (along with two other bloggers, not poached from Discover).

Meredith Xcelerated Marketing Staffs Up

Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (MXM) has brought on four new hires from the media and agency worlds, MinOnline reports.

The new hires are Tom Donnelly, formerly of CQ Roll Call, Gail Weiswasser (pictured), social media VP at Discovery Communications, James P. Clark of Mindshare and Megan Malli of AKQA.

Donnelly will be VP, public affairs at MXM. Weiswasser’s new title is VP of engagement. Clark, who led integrated paid and earned social media programs for Sprint’s digital presence at Mindshare, will be strategy director, and Malli will be senior account director.

MXM is an arm of Meredith, the media company that publishes Better Homes & Gardens among other titles. But MXM takes that experience and turns it into marketing wins for clients like Kraft Foods, Acura, and Lowe’s.

Tanika Ray on How to Manage an Unconventional Career Path

Dancer, check. Actress, check. Host, check. Correspondent, check. No wonder Tanika Ray calls herself a Renaissance woman –  not only has she performed with Will Smith and Brandy, she’s hosted shows on Lifetime, CBS, TLC and had gigs as a correspondent for Extra and HGTV’s Design Star.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do? series, Ray says that her TV career began when, after watching a red carpet interview, she thought, “I can do that.”

“It’s not about being still in a place and holding on to it for dear life. I don’t think we live in a society where we celebrate ‘oh, for 35 years I’ve had the same job.’ That’s just not how we’re wired anymore and there’s no security in that anyway. So, why not be free to check off everything on your life before your days come to an end?”

Read more in So What Do You Do, Tanika Ray, Red Carpet Reporter and Host of The CW’s Oh, Sit!?

The Breakup, Part Three: Who ‘Wins’ The Media Coverage Game?

This is the third and final part of our week-long look at Poynter.org’s Mediawire and JimRomenesko.com, and the differences in traffic, coverage, etc., that they have from one another.

After putting both sites under pretty intense scrutiny for a week, we thought we’d be able to come away with a firm answer of who was doing media criticism better.

But overall, it’s much harder to declare a “winner” than we thought it would be. With the sites so divergent, we’re (almost) glad the separation happened as it did. Romenesko’s focus seems squarely on short items that will get clicks–some of them simply hilarious, though, to be fair, some are yawners. He also receives many more internal memos and other exclusive documents (due to his long track record as the media industry one-man watchdog, no doubt). Romenesko seems to be focusing on speed and scoops, and supplementing those items with fluff here and there; on the other hand, we get the impression that Mediawire is trying to post more items and more thoughtful items, even at the expense of speed. Poynter’s Julie Moos and I didn’t discuss the speed of breaking news during our call, but she did say (as previously mentioned) that Mediawire was trying to do more analysis–and that this was a change put into motion even before Romenesko’s resignation. “Before Jim left, we were making changes to the blog and to the site, and after that [we] continued to make changes,” she said.

The new Mediawire is clearly going in a new direction, with fewer short items and more in-depth pieces. This has gotta be expensive, however, since the site displays bylines from not just Andrew Beaujon but other Poynter staffers as well. Seen from that light, Romenesko’s one-man site is certainly coming out ahead. But the people who follow media industry news would be well-served to subscribe to both sites. The people who vowed never to visit Poynter.org after Romenesko’s resignation (“I’m sure there are some of those,” Moos said) are only doing themselves a disservice. Bottom line: if you’re a journalist, you need both.

Six Nuggets of Career Inspiration From the Late Helen Gurley Brown

Need a little jolt in your job today? Look no further.

Earlier in the week we paused with great respect when the death of Helen Gurley Brown was announced. After all, she’s the ultimate “Cosmo girl” — the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, author of Sex and the Single Girl, and quintessential media maven.

While perusing her obituary in The New York Times, one can’t help but extrapolate interesting tidbits that can add a spring to your step! Read more

The Breakup: Six Months In, How Are Poynter.org and JimRomenesko.com Changing?

Late last year, Jim Romenesko, considered by many to be the Poynter Institute’s star employee, left Poynter in a dramatic and widely-discussed breakup.

Shortly after, he launched his own blog, JimRomenesko.com, where he covers pretty much the same beat (media news and criticism) he had at Poynter. Meanwhile, Poynter hired Andrew Beaujon* to keep up the media beat there (along with other Poynter staffers) on Romenesko’s blog, now renamed MediaWire.

Now, more than half a year in, how are the two sites faring? Many predicted when Romenesko left Poynter that the nonprofit had signed its own death sentence. “Poynter has just Qwikstered itself in under 24 hours,” wrote a commenter going by Kevin Allman on the Columbia Journalism Review story about the debacle. (It’s the Internet, so no way to tell for sure, but that commenter is likely alt-weekly editor Kevin Allman.)

“Frankly, I have never read anything in Poynter other than Romenesko,” another commenter said on Poynter’s own post about the “mess” the departure had become. “I deleted Poynter from my favorites list,” another said.

But we wondered whether the outrage held up–whether people truly did stop visiting Poynter.org after Jim Romenesko’s departure, and whether the visitors flocked to JimRomenesko.com. We also wondered how the two sites’ reporting held up. After all, Romenesko is one man with diverse interests (he said at the time that he planned to add some stories about topics other than journalism) and MediaWire now boasts multiple bylines from four Poynter staffers besides Beaujon (soon to be three, as Steve Myers recently announced he was moving to The Lens in New Orleans). So how does the media coverage on Romenesko and on Poynter differ these days? And who’s reading?

First, we’d hoped to have an analysis of the two sites’ web traffic stats, based on information gleaned from Alexa and Compete.com. But it turns out, thanks to data provided to us by Poynter’s Julie Moos, that said analysis is going to have to be a bit less in-depth than we’d liked, because the data you can get from free online tools is pretty inaccurate (who’d have thought?).

What we can say is that the relative trends seem to be accurate, so it’s fair to say that Jimromenesko.com is on an upward trajectory since its launch last year:

(Except April. A measurement error? Again, free tools–low expectations.)

Poynter had a great April after a relatively slow first quarter:

Moos went on to tell us that unique visitors to Poynter.org are up 20% over the year, partly thanks to an effort to “diversify our audience,” Moos said. “Our traditional journalism audience was really rapidly declining between 2009-2010….we’re combining the news and realtime analysis at the same time. That’s helped us reach outside of our traditional audience.”

What sort of changes? What’s Jim doing in response? (Maybe nothing. He told us over email: “I’m just trying to have fun on my new site — using a lot of visuals, reader contributions, insider memos, and the like. I rarely look at Poynter so I can’t compare what I do with what they’re up to.” ) We’ll take a look at the coverage in the next post.

*Disclaimer: Beaujon edited the few stories I contributed as a freelancer to the Washington City Paper and employed me as a contract copy editor for about 6 months.

After 35 Years, ‘Click and Clack’ To End Show

We’re a little devastated about this, because Saturday mornings in Chez MediaJobsDaily are not complete without the ear-shatteringly annoying laughter of “Click” and “Clack,” aka Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka The Guys Who Have That Show About Cars That Would Probably Be 90% Shorter If They Cut Out The Laughter.

Jim Romenesko posted the release earlier today. We learned that “Car Talk” has been broadcast on NPR member stations for 25 years, and 10 years before that on WBUR in Boston. Tom, the older brother, will turn 75(!) this year, and Ray is 63.

In the statement, Ray said: “My brother has always said, ‘Don’t be afraid of work. Make work afraid of you.’ And he’s done it. Work has successfully avoided him all his life.”

NPR will continue to distribute old episodes so member stations can air reruns if they like. “The work they did five and 10 years ago is just as funny now as it was then,” Eric Nuzum, Vice President for NPR Programming, said in the statement. And the guys will update their website and write their twice-weekly column.

The guys’ admittedly terrible jokes and bantering isn’t for everyone, so some people may be happy to learn that the show’s over, we admit. Either way, after 35 years of doing this, they’ve earned retirement. But again, personally, it’s a bummer. It’s also probably a bummer for the staff, which numbers 11. We’re also afraid that without the business Tom and Ray were sending them, the law firm of Dewey, Cheetham and Howe might go out of business, to say nothing of the brothers’ staff accountant, Candace B. Rittenoff, director of year-end bonuses Holly Unlikely, or poor customer service rep Haywood Jabuzoff.

Jonathan Murray Tells How To Get a Reality TV Job

As creator of The Real World and Road Rules and producer of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Project Runway, Jonathan Murray gets asked one question an awful lot:

How do I get a job in reality TV?

In mediabistro.com’s latest So What Do You Do? interview, Murray said it’s all about getting that first gig — any gig — in the business.

“I think we hire 20 to 30 young people each year to start out as PAs and loggers and all these different entry-level jobs. And I always tell them that you really need to work in it to understand it. Get a good liberal arts education,” he explained. “I’m always looking for people who think well, who are curious, who can write well, who are well-read, who understand story, and then we can teach them most of the rest of the stuff as a company.”

Murray also discussed how he was able to get MTV to take a chance on the genre and whether Kim Kardashian‘s 72-day marriage was really a sham for the cameras. Read the full interview.

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