Morning Media Newsfeed 06.15.12
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Cameron Grilled About Tabloid Ties (WSJ)
British Prime Minister David Cameron defended his relationships with two key figures in News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper scandal on Thursday, as he explained how he befriended one of Rupert Murdoch's former tabloid editors and hired another. The Guardian Rebekah Brooks sent an effusive text message to Cameron on the eve of his 2009 party conference speech, telling him: "Professionally, we're definitely in this together!" and signing off: "Yes he Cam!" Reuters Testifying under oath at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, Cameron said Brooks had merely meant that they had a common interest because her Sun newspaper had come out in support of the Conservative Party ahead of the 2010 election. NYT The exchanges went to the heart of central questions confronting the British leader after months of debate over the phone hacking scandal that inspired the inquiry, which Cameron himself established last year: Was the prime minister too close to Murdoch executives and editors who have been implicated in the scandal? And, as a corollary, did the relationship reflect poor judgment, or sway policy, as the Labour opposition maintains? The Guardian Cameron is perhaps the greatest living example of establishment man. In his appearance before the Leveson inquiry, he gave a masterclass in the mellifluous deflection of blame. Cameron's manners are so good, and his intonation so reasonable, that it becomes difficult to believe -- or is supposed to become difficult to believe -- that he could ever do anything disgraceful. Like all the best representatives of the establishment, he is not that kind of person. Time / World Politicians often lament the distortions of the press. "If only we could bypass the media to give the public undiluted fact," they cry. A nice irony of the Leveson Inquiry, set in motion by Cameron in the wake of the phone hacking scandal to explore the dysfunctional relationship between Britain's press and political classes, is that it has handed politicians just such an opportunity -- and they don't seem to be relishing it at all.
Starboard Loses Bid To Place Members On AOL Board (Poynter / MediaWire)
Starboard, the activist investment group that expressed great skepticism about AOL's content-based strategy, lost its bid to place three members on the company's board at Thursday's annual meeting. AOL's entire present board was re-elected, a company news release says. Forbes / Mixed Media Starboard sought to make the case that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong's strategy, in particular the focus on monetizing premium news content through the sale of display advertising, is an expensive failure. Bloomberg Businessweek / AP In a statement, AOL said it still plans to add two additional independent directors to its board that it believes will add additional expertise and perspectives. Reuters AOL is considering Starboard's nominees, which included CEO Jeffrey Smith, but also soliciting recommendations from other large shareholders and has hired the executive search firm Spencer Stuart to seek nominees. TechCrunch AOL's dial-up revenue declined at a rate of 15 percent year-over-year to $182 million in the first quarter. Meanwhile, display advertising revenue -- which is what the company is betting on -- grew just 5 percent year-over-year to $330.1 million. The timeframe for AOL's controversial local media effort, Patch.com, remains the same: They're looking at profitability by the end of 2013. WSJ Armstrong has defended his content investments as part of broader efforts to transform AOL into an advertising-revenue driven media company, following its spinoff from Time Warner Inc. He says AOL units such as Patch, which he founded, need more time to become profitable.
Amoss: Radical Restructuring At Times-Picayune Has Roots In Katrina Reporting (Poynter / MediaWire)
Thursday's front-page centerpiece in The Times-Picayune was an essay from editor Jim Amoss in which he invokes the newspaper's Web-first response to Hurricane Katrina in order to defend the decision to lay off 200 people and pivot to the Web. He describes waking in the middle of the night as the storm made landfall to find journalists furiously updating NOLA.com. HuffPost Amoss appeared on PBS' NewsHour Thursday night and spoke out about the major staff cuts that hit the New Orleans paper earlier this week. NPR What happens when a media company wants to take away your daily newspaper? In New Orleans, you take to the streets. CJR / The Audit The gutting of New Orleans' beloved Times-Picayune and Advance Publications' plan to turn it into a sort of major market AnnArbor.com looks set to bring journalism built on "motion for motion's sake... volume without thought" to a city built on doing the opposite. Poynter To people who've never been to Alabama, it's a single place, synonymous with the Deep South and whatever that means to you. Though the newspapers in those cities have been owned by Advance Publications for some time, for years each was the center of its own solar system. The only place they shared a home was online, a statewide news portal where the al.com brand eclipsed their nameplates. And with the radical restructuring and downsizing announced Tuesday, those independent operations hundreds of miles apart will become even more intertwined.
WNBC Will Salute Sue Simmons With Day-Long Reports (New York Daily News)
NBC 4 New York is saying goodbye to news anchor Sue Simmons with a day-long tribute Friday. TVSpy WNBC will run video tributes to Simmons during all of its newscasts Friday that will include the familiar mix of on-air highlights and salutes from former colleagues and local celebrities. NY Post Simmons signs off from Channel 4 Friday night after 32 years -- a departure that's been so low-key you'd think station officials were trying to hide the biggest goodbye of a local icon in years.
New Republic Staffs Up, Raids New York Times Magazine, Washington City Paper (HuffPost / The Backstory)
The New Republic, which has ambitious expansion plans under new owner Chris Hughes, has just made several key hires. Poynter / MediaWire Washington City Paper's editor, Mike Schaffer, and its real-estate columnist, Lydia DePillis, are headed to The New Republic. FishbowlNY At The New Republic, Schaffer will be responsible for all digital content. The Atlantic Wire Hughes and new editor Franklin Foer have also brought on New York Times Magazine editor Greg Veis, who used to be the Web editor at TNR but will now work as executive editor.
Fox And NBC Finish Upfront Advertising Sales (LA Times / Company Town)
Broadcasters can hang up the "Gone Fishing" sign. Network executives have finished negotiating the bulk of their advertising sales for the upcoming 2012-2013 television season, fetching nearly $9.1 billion in commitments for primetime commercial spots. NYT / Media Decoder Ad rates rose for the five networks compared with last year, by 5 to 9 percent. The increases in CPMs were not as large as they were last year compared with the year before, when the percentages rose by the high single-digits to the low double-digits. But the gains meant the networks achieved a very solid two-year hike in ad rates from spring 2010 to spring 2012. AdAge / TV Upfront Something funny happened on the way to this year's upfront. Advertisers who were expected to demonstrate their love for TV by again committing to spend even more money there wound up distracted by a competing concern: a shaky economy.
NBC News, Telemundo Partner On Election Coverage (Multichannel News)
NBC News is teaming up with Telemundo for coverage of the presidential election under its "Decision 2012" banner. Politico / Dylan Byers On Media Tapping the Hispanic audience, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, is increasingly a concern for the major television networks. TVNewser What do the companies get? Telemundo gets access to a massive wealth of political information and news provided by NBC News, while NBC gets insight and information related to Hispanic voters, a key voting demographic. FishbowlDC Alexandra Wallace, senior vice president at NBC News, has expanded her role to add a strategic position within Telemundo. She'll work closely with Alina Falcon, executive vice president of news and alternative programming at Telemundo Media, on executing "Decision 2012."
Daily News America To Launch By End Of June (Capital New York)
The latest New York Daily News digital editor, Ted Young, arrived in the paper's newsroom this week, and he already appears to have made a splash.
Why The Updated ABC News iPad App Changes By Time Of Day (Poynter / Mobile Media)
Building a good app starts with asking yourself the right questions. The most fundamental one: What does my audience want? That's the problem that people at ABC News have tried to solve since launching an iPad app almost two years ago. paidContent Joe Ruffolo, senior vice president of ABC News Digital, says the app has been downloaded "millions" of times. It turned out iPad usage was closer to the broadcast model than online patterns. TVNewser Instead of just updating the stories, pictures and videos throughout the day, the format of the content will change. In the morning, the app will feature a "Morning Edition," with headlines, weather and content from Good Morning America, including an exclusive video feature anchored by GMA's Josh Elliott. B&C The "Midday Edition" features updates of the top news headlines, as well as a variety of video clips and lifestyle and feature stories. The "Primetime Edition" sports a design centered on a prominent video player that features top world, national and local news and broadcast video.
Opposition To Universal-EMI Deal Intensifies Before Senate Hearings (NYT / Media Decoder)
The Universal Music Group's proposed $1.9 billion purchase of EMI's record labels has been controversial since it was announced in November, but opposition has grown louder in recent days as government regulators in Europe and the United States get closer to deciding whether to approve the deal. Politico The Consumer Federation of America and Public Knowledge filed a report with the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday urging the agency to counter the proposal, which the groups say is a threat to competition, by blocking the bid, requiring divestitures or imposing other conditions on the deal. Reuters The Federal Trade Commission, which is reviewing the deal to ensure it complies with antitrust law, has asked industry experts about Universal's power to set prices given widespread music pirating and big retailers like Apple and Amazon, who use cheap music to attract customers.
Pinterest Goes Into Lockdown: Plans Three Huge Product Launches This Summer (Business Insider / Silicon Alley Insider)
For the past few summers, Facebook has gone into what management calls "lockdown" mode, where for a number of weeks the company's engineers stay later and work harder, getting several big product launches ready to go. This summer, hot social media startup Pinterest seems to be copying the idea. SocialTimes In March, Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann told The New York Times that the team was working on an iPad app.
Whatever Happened To The YouTube Killers? (GigaOM / NewTeeVee)
The last few days brought back some memories for any veteran of the online video space.
Hachette Launches Redhook Imprint (GalleyCat)
The Hachette Book Group, the home of Grand Central Publishing and Little, Brown & Company, has announced plans to launch a new imprint for commercial fiction books called Redhook. Publishers Weekly Redhook will release its first title, a historical epic by Robert Lyndon called Hawk Quest, in April 2013.
Reporters' Lab Seeks A New Boss As Sarah Cohen Moves On (Nieman Journalism Lab)
Sarah Cohen, director of Duke University's still-pretty-new Reporters' Lab at Duke University, says the project will remain active after she takes a new reporting job at The New York Times on August 1.
Hoy Los Angeles Adds Thursday Paper (FishbowlLA)
Given that the biggest media story in the country right now is the axe-murdering of The New Orleans Times-Picayune, we're happy to be able to spread a little bit of good media news. Hoy Los Angeles announced Thursday that it is expanding publication of its print product from three to four days per week. LA Times Set to debut June 28 and joining Hoy's existing Friday publication and the weekend-focused Fin de Semana, coverage will include profiles of Latinos making news by creating a difference in their communities. In addition, entertainment, sports, food, home, health and business news will guide readers through Southern California's vast landscape of information and activities.