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Archives: September 2010

Bartenders Start Tweeting While New York Times Magazine Finds its New Editor, Plus Other News of the Day

- Well it’s over, and it only seems like yesterday when we first began talking about the potential suitors for Newsweek. Actually, scratch that. Finally, the transition is over! The Washington Post Co. officially handed Sidney Harman the keys to Newsweek today. But the company didn’t announce how much it received for the magazine. Now we will start to see the real changes as rumors of a Daily Beast partnership continue to circle the troubled weekly.

- New York Times magazine finally got its next top editor. But it’s not who most people expected. They brought on Bloomberg Businessweek‘s executive editor Hugo Lindgren, who has spent time at the Times Magazine, as well as New York magazine. But check out this internal memo from NYT executive editor Bill Keller. He actually uses a non-attributed quote to say why they hired Lindgren. “‘He’s very smart, wildly creative and charismatic,’” says one editor who has worked closely with him. ‘People like him and want to do their best work for him. He just has a great magazine head.’” What? They couldn’t get anyone on record?

- All right, enough already, National Journal. We get it, you want to hire top talent, but does it have to be everyday? Now they brought on Newsweek senior editor Adam Kushner to take over as deputy magazine editor. “Adam will inject rigor and discipline to our analyses, ensuring that our reporters seize the heart of every story and not its capillaries,” said National Journal Group Editor-in-Chief Ron Fournier in a press release. “Under his guidance, National Journal readers won’t be left asking, ‘So what? Why does this matter?’ They’ll know what happened in Washington and why it’s relevant to their lives and work.” OK, are you all done already?

- It seems everyone needs to know social media these days, and if you’re in Chicago that includes bartenders. The Awl found this job listing for a bartender in Chicago that is an “established networker both in person and through social media.” Really, they need a bartender with a thousand Twitter followers? I’m not sure I want my bartender tweeting, but I guess that could just be me.

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Advertising On $800

Clint Davis used to be an art director at a national magazine. Now he’s a freelance photographer.

Believing fully in the slogan “Without advertising, something terrible happens… nothing” he set out to develop a promo mailer that, unlike the ones he used to receive as an art director, wouldn’t be tossed in the trash. His budget: $800 for 40 pieces.

He spent that $800, and three months of his time (hey, when you’re on a budget, sweat equity is where it’s at) and this is what he came up with:

The sample cards are customized depending on who the potential client is, and the box, of course, is a great touch. (Davis himself says: “Maybe it’s just me, but when I get a box in the mail with a hand-written address, a slow fuzzy feeling comes over me and my eyes open 43% more than usual. YOU good box are coming back to my desk for a thorough dissection.”)

How do you market yourself as a freelancer?

Investment Firm D.E. Shaw Cuts 10 Percent Of Its Staff

Why do you care about layoffs at an investment firm, you ask? Well, D.E. Shaw has always been a little…different, taking pains to appeal to people outside the usual MBA/finance/quantitative analysis range. The company is known for hiring liberal arts majors and for posting jobs designed to attract media people on boards like mediabistro’s.

(Others suggest, it must be added, that D.E. Shaw is much more interested in sounding like it hires liberal arts majors than actually doing so. The highest-profile novelist on the payroll, Charles Ardai, was also the founder of internet company Juno, rather than being your typical starving artist type.)

Anyway, the company’s just cut about 150 people, so it’s probably not going to want you and your novel-in-progress.

Raises For Some Tribune Co. Employees

Non-union employees at Tribune Co., are getting merit raises in 2011, according to a memo obtained by Romenesko. The company is setting aside 3 percent of total compensation, to be spread amongst the employees as management sees fit.

We are not totally sure how many of Tribune Co.’s 18000 or so employees are covered by unions, but our back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that this could be a $7 or $8 million endeavor. Nice gesture when you’re totally bankrupt.

Arrington: ‘I Can’t Work Under These Conditions’

Michael Arrington isn’t even sure whether AOL’s deal to purchase TechCrunch has closed yet, but he does know one thing: this corporate thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

He wrote:

But today we celebrate our new corporate overlords with…an internal all hands. EVP David Eun, Heather’s new boss, scheduled a whopping 3.5 hour all hands meeting today starting at 11. Everyone’s here in the office pretending like it’s perfectly normal to be awake and in the office at this ridiculous hour. And God help us if news breaks, because we’ll all be in the conference room acting out a Dilbert cartoon….We once had an all hands here at TechCrunch but it ended after a few minutes because I wanted to go back to my office and do anything else besides be in a meeting.

In fairness, he did include a smiley face at the end of his post title…

Union Dispute Threatens Philadelphia Papers

The Philadelphia Newspapers sale doesn’t seem to have an end. Now the creditors who won the rights to the company, which owns The Inquirer and the Daily News, last week are threatening to shutdown the papers, if the new union contracts aren’t agreed upon soon.

According to Philly.com (which is also in the sale), first reported the new developments as the creditors and unions try to settle their disputes. Christopher K. Hepp writes:

The prospective new owners of the media company said the union that represents the 306 employees who bundle the papers for delivery had rejected a new contract, despite having previously voted to ratify a “substantially similar” offer. The situation brought warnings of dire consequences from the new owners, including shutdown of the papers.

The lawyer for the union, which represents workers called mailers, said the new owners’ assertion that his clients had rejected a new contract was “patently false.” The attorney, Michael Katz, said there were language issues in the contract that were resolvable. He blamed the new owners for exacerbating the situation, saying they have refused to give the mailers time to address their concerns.

The mailers’ decision to reject the contract means now two unions have declined to sign on to new union contracts. The truckers, which deliver the paper, voted against a proposed deal a couple weeks ago, which led to the Phildelphia Newspapers being placed back onto the auction block.

“There is now a significant risk of a strike or other job action which would irreparably harm the business,” said the new owners in a statement released to Philly.com. The statement continued, adding if that happened, the new owners would “permanently shut down the business.”

While the new owners continue to pursue other options, they have asked the current management team to warn employees of possible layoffs.

So much for that celebratory drink one has after buying a new business. Hopefully, this is just a power play to force the unions into signing the new labor contract. After all, why would the new owners, which just pennied up $105 million for the company, want to shut it down?

Layoffs At DC’s Vertigo Imprint

Even the comics world is suffering (as we should have figured when Peter Parker got canned). Earlier this week, DC laid off three longtime employees at its Vertigo imprint, which is marketed to an older audience.

Pornsak Pichetshote
, Jonathan Vankin, and Joan Hilty were the three employees named, reports Comics Beat. Hilty in particular had 15 years with the company.

Andrew Ross Sorkin Talks About His Rise Up the NYT Ladder

Andrew Ross Sorkin, the young New York Times columnist and creator of Dealbook, has had precipitous rise up the ranks of the NYT. While his story is rare, it’s interesting to hear for any budding journalists out there.

Speaking to Benzinga, Sorkin talked about his early start at the newspaper. It turns out his first assignment was a mistake.

I started here when I was 18 years old as an intern if you will, and I used to Xerox and staple. I had no intention of putting two words together, let alone a sentence. I got lucky very early on; an editor who didn’t know how old I was assigned me a story to write, and didn’t realize I was still in high school.

Not everyone can be that lucky, but Sorkin ran with it and even parlayed the internship into a job after he graduated college, working in London with a focus on mergers and acquisitions. In 2001, he moved back to the U.S. and soon after started an email list which eventually turned into the Dealbook website. Here’s his experience in creating that list, and why he chose to do so.

Two things happened, and it really goes back to the email. When we started the email it was really about “how can we get in front of this community?” We had this newspaper that got in front of a lot of people, but we wanted to truly get in front of them, and make sure people were reading everything. I was also spending an inordinate amount of time on the internet every day finding stories. I figured if we could aggregate stories that would be a really great service, and at the same time show off what we felt was our great competitive content.

The big issue was how do we take this audience, that is really only having that touch point with us once a day, how can we migrate this and have a tighter relationship with this community, and that’s where the website came in.

Be bold and take every opportunity, that seems to be the moral of that story.

(h/t Talking Biz News)

Patch Admits it Lifted Photo From Local Blogger

AOL Patch has admitted it was wrong in lifting a photo off a local blog in New Rochelle, NY. In an email to Talk of the Sound blogger Robert Cox, Patch.com editor-in-chief Brian Farnham admitted the New Rochelle Patch local editor Allison Esposito misled her editors when questioned about the photo, and in fact lifted the picture.

This is even worse, considering the Hudson Valley regional editor for Patch Kathleen Ryan O’Connor wrote to MJD on Tuesday to say “Allison Esposito, did not plagiarize anything from Mr. Cox’s blog in any form.” She then added, “The objects in question — police generated mug shots — are publicly available and any similarity to Mr. Cox’s presentation of those public images is purely coincidental.”

That prompted Cox to respond via his blog, outlining all the steps he took when altering the pictures in photoshop. Farnham has now apologized to Cox and to clarify that O’Connor was misled. “The image she [Esposito] posted was, in fact, a download of the composite image you made from the police mug shots,” wrote Farnham in an email to Cox. “I sincerely apologize for this unattributed and unauthorized use of your image. We have extremely high standards of journalism here at Patch, and Allison did not live up to them. Her behavior was unacceptable and we are taking immediate disciplinary action. The image has already been removed from our story.”

“As this is all I had asked — remove it or give me credit — I consider the matter closed,” said Cox in an email to MJD.

You can read Mr. Farnham’s entire email to Cox after the jump.

Read more

Initial Jobless Claims Drops by 16,000

In the roller coaster ride that’s the initial unemployment claims in the U.S., the Labor Department saw a decrease of 16,000 claims last week. That’s coming off of last week’s report that had an increase of 16,000 initial claims.

While the number of initial claims keeps jumping up and down, the result has been stagnation in claims around the 450,000 to 460,000 range. The drop to 453,000 this week beat expectations as economists expected claims to fall by 5,000, according to the Wall Street Journal. A less volatile measure of the number of unemployment claims, the four-week moving average also fell by more than 6,000 to 458,000.

Continuing jobless claims, or those who continue to collect unemployment after the initial claim, dropped by 83,000 to 4,457,000 for the week ending September 18, 2010.

“Employers are still kind of cautious,” said senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. Russell Price to Bloomberg. “We need to regain that broader momentum in the economy, and something like that is just slow to develop.”

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