Morning Media Newsfeed 07.31.12
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Jonah Lehrer Resigns From The New Yorker After Making Up Bob Dylan Quotes for His Book (NYT / Media Decoder)
A publishing industry that is notoriously ill-equipped to root out fraud. A magazine whose famed fact-checking department is geared toward print, not the Web. And a lucrative lecture circuit that rewards snappy, semi-scientific pronouncements, smoothly delivered to a corporate audience. All contributed to the rise of Jonah Lehrer, the 31-year-old author, speaker and staff writer for The New Yorker, who then executed one of the most bewildering recent journalistic frauds, one that on Monday cost him his prestigious post at the magazine and his status as one of the most promising, visible and well-paid writers in the business. Tablet Magazine "It's a hard thing to describe," Bob Dylan once mused about the creative process. "It's just this sense that you got something to say." The sense that one has something to say, some story to relate, is the stuff that fuels all writers. That Dylan observation can be found in the first chapter of journalist Jonah Lehrer's best-selling new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, an exploration of how neuroscience explains creative genius. Lehrer has much to say on the matter, from a meditation on the inventor of the Post-It note to an investigation into the way Dylan's mind works, which included the quote above. The problem, though, is that there is no proof that Dylan ever said this. Poynter / MediaWire Michael Moynihan says he couldn't find evidence that Dylan said some of the things Lehrer quotes him as saying in Imagine: How Creativity Works. Worse, he writes, Lehrer admitted lying to him about where he got some of the material because he "panicked." Moynihan confirmed Lehrer's resignation in a tweet: "Jonah Lehrer has resigned from The New Yorker and apologized to me." JimRomenesko.com Lehrer, in a statement: "Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book Imagine. The quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes. But I told Moynihan that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan's representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said. The lies are over now." paidContent Lehrer's publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is "exploring all options available to us," spokeswoman Lori Glazer said in a statement. "We are taking the eBook of Imagine off-sale, and halting shipment of physical copies." Politico / Dylan Byers on Media A New Yorker spokesperson sends the following statement from New Yorker editor David Remnick: "This is a terrifically sad situation, but, in the end, what is most important is the integrity of what we publish and what we stand for." FishbowlNY Add this to everything else, and you see that Lehrer has built quite the career (well, had built quite the career) out of being a liar. CJR / The Observatory Lehrer's fall from grace started in late June when media critic Jim Romenesko revealed that Lehrer had reused parts of old stories he wrote for other publications in six of his eight initial blog posts for The New Yorker. HuffPost At the time, he apologized and The New Yorker assured readers that Lehrer made a "mistake" that he would not make again. Forbes / Mixed Media Indeed, while many other top-tier publications -- from The New York Times and the Washington Post to The New Republic and Slate -- have endured journalism scandals of their own, The New Yorker has largely avoided them. The last major one was in the 1970s, when film critic Penelope Gilliatt was caught plagiarizing in a profile of author Graham Greene. GalleyCat Lehrer has published three books, including How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist. Poynter / MediaWire In an April appearance on The Colbert Report, Lehrer talked with host Stephen Colbert about creativity, the subject of his new book, Imagine. Here's what Lehrer told Colbert about creativity. Poynter / MediaWire Michael Moynihan did not feel good Monday, after writing the story that forced Lehrer to quit his job at The New Yorker and admit he had made up Dylan quotations. "I don't want the scalp," Moynihan said in a phone interview. "It's not what I am interested in."
Guy Adams has Twitter Account Suspended After Tweeting NBC Olympics President's Email Address (HuffPost)
Ross Levinsohn Departs Yahoo! (AllThingsD)
As I previously reported he likely would, top Yahoo! exec Ross Levinsohn -- who lost the CEO race to former Google exec Marissa Mayer -- is leaving the company, according to several sources. LA Times / Company Town Levinsohn sent an email Monday afternoon to his staff, declaring that his time at Yahoo! had "come to an end." NYT / DealBook His departure comes just two weeks after Mayer stepped into the role that Levinsohn assumed would be his own. Levinsohn ran Yahoo!'s media, business development and sales operations and assumed the role of interim chief after Scott Thompson, Yahoo!'s last chief executive, left in May amid questions that he had embellished academic credentials on his resume. AllThingsD Here's the memo that Mayer just sent out to the troops, which is a very classy one, as well as Levinsohn's adieu to staff and the regulatory documents that the Silicon Valley Internet giant filed about the departure with the Securities and Exchange Commission. TheWrap As part of his severance package, Levinsohn will receive a year's salary, his target annual bonus for 12 months, a prorated portion of his target annual bonus for 2013 and stock options. Yahoo will also cover the "COBRA premiums for continuation of health benefits for up to 12 months." The Associated Press Levinsohn's compensation package was valued at $12 million last year.
Washington Post Gets $500,000 Grant From Ford Foundation (JimRomenesko.com)
The Washington Post has received a $500,000 Ford Foundation grant to fund four new newsroom positions and expand the paper's government-accountability reporting. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media "The one-year grant -- with an agreement in principle for two additional years -- is part of the Foundation's Freedom of Expression program, an initiative aimed at promoting journalism in the public interest," Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli and his colleagues wrote in a memo to staff. WSJ The grants come as newspapers continue to struggle with print revenues declining much faster than digital revenues are growing, forcing closures and job cuts throughout the industry. The Washington Post's newsroom, for instance, has shrunk to around 600 people today from about 1,000 at its peak in 2000. Poynter / MediaWire In May, the Ford Foundation granted the Los Angeles Times $1 million to "focus on the Vietnamese, Korean and other immigrant communities, the California prison system, the border region and Brazil." It was part of an initiative, the Foundation said, to experiment with "new approaches to preserve and advance high-quality journalism."
Nielsen Sued for Billions over Allegedly Manipulated TV Ratings (THR / Hollywood, Esq.)
New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV), India's oldest and largest news network, has lobbed a legal grenade at The Nielsen Co. In a 194-page lawsuit filed in New York court late last week, NDTV accuses Nielsen of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by manipulating viewership data in favor of channels that are willing to provide bribes to its officials. TVNewser It sounds as though Nielsen at one point acknowledged the problem. Deadline Hollywood NDTV wants $580 million for negligence, a minimum of $810 million for fraud and millions more on a variety of other causes of action including legal fees.
ABC, Univision Seal Deal on Joint Channel (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
ABC News and Univision News have officially closed the deal on their new joint 24-hour news channel. TVNewser Not coincidentally, a number of details about the upcoming cable news channel have leaked as part of an application granting it $10.5 million in incentives from Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida.
Rafat Ali on Building a Media Company on Top of Public Data (Nieman Journalism Lab)
Ten years ago, Rafat Ali wanted to build a company that could chronicle the transformation of media and technology. Now he hopes to do it again, this time in the world of travel. His new project Skift sounds at first a lot like paidContent: a mix of original reporting and aggregation tailored for a savvy, niche, information-hungry audience. But this time around, Ali is placing his bet less on a stable of journalists and more on a team of product designers, developers, and, yes, journalists. Adweek According to Ali, there are loads of publicly available data from different sectors of the travel world, such as delay and lost luggage information from the over 600 U.S. airports, or tourism growth stats for each state. But nobody's taken the initiative to compile it all in a useful way.
Connecticut SPJ Issues 28-Page Report on Reporter Who Fabricated Names, Quotes (JimRomenesko.com)
The New Canaan News fired reporter Paresh Jha last month after he admitted to fabricating names and quotes. The Hearst-owned newspaper discovered that 25 stories written by Jha over an 18-month period contained quotes from nonexistent sources. Two of Jha's stories won awards in the 2011 Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) writing contest. He received a first place in-depth reporting award for in-depth reporting for "Enabling Underage Partying," and a third-place feature writing award for "Teachers, Students Weigh in on Twain Controversy." After Jha's fabrications were discovered, the Connecticut SPJ assigned Roy Gutterman of Syracuse's Newhouse School to investigate Jha's winning entries. Connecticut SPJ After careful deliberation and additional questions to media lawyer and Syracuse professor Roy Gutterman about his review, the Connecticut SPJ Board of Directors on July 29 voted to revoke Jha's first-place award for the in-depth reporting entry. The third-place award for the feature writing entry will stand, as our investigation found no evidence of deception.
Twitter Makes Stock Symbol $ 'Cashtag' Links Official, Following # and @ (The Verge)
Twitter has a long history of letting its users create standards and then finally adopting them as site features. First came the @ reply, whose history was recently examined. Next, the # hashtag morphed into Twitter's full "Discover" tab -- complete with advertising opportunities. Now another common standard will automatically be turned into links when viewed on Twitter.com -- $ stock symbols, commonly referred to as "cashtags." AllThingsD Why is this a foul? Mostly because this is one of the primary functions of Stock Twits, the pet project of entrepreneur Howard Lindzon. Sign in to Stock Twits using your Twitter account, and users can follow different companies based on the $ticker that Lindzon popularized. TechCrunch Unstructured data leads to a poor user experience, and Twitter has unstructured data in spades. To begin offering a search mechanism that is actually useful, the company may begin employing other symbols to use as secondary hashtags.
New Digg Team Publishes Redesign in Progress (AllThingsD)
The oft-chronicled tale of Web 2.0 star Digg includes multiple incidents where the company alienated its users by making dramatic changes and policy decisions without much warning. The new Digg -- bought by John Borthwick's Betaworks -- apparently won't be like that. Monday, the company published screenshots and overviews of its upcoming product overhaul, six weeks into the new ownership. SocialTimes The new design shows a newspaper-like layout where main stories are emphasized, not entirely unlike our own site here at SocialTimes -- without the ads, though. TPM Digg "v1," as it's being called, will be available as a website, stand-alone free iPhone app and a website formatted for other mobile devices come August 1.
The British Media After Leveson (CJR)
If public outcry against alleged phone hacking sparked the Leveson Inquiry, the government-led investigation into ethics in the British press, citizen interest waned over the eight months of evidence gathering. By Tuesday, when that process closed, the conversation had shifted to become dominated by journalists and editors speaking out in defense of freedom of the press.
The Verge is Giving Extra Credit (and Links) to Primary Sources (Nieman Journalism Lab)
When technology site The Verge launched last fall, we wrote a broadly laudatory review on the site's design and infrastructure. We had one quibble, though, about how The Verge gave credit to other sites when it aggregated/curated/summarized/rewrote (your pick) their stories. Rather than link to the source in the body text of the story, The Verge would move that link to a small "Source" box at the bottom of the story, where it seemed likely fewer people would click on it. It didn't seem sporting.
How to Win at YouTube (Adweek)
Google has allocated $200 million to promote its emerging lineup of original channels. But given that there are close to 100 channels to promote, that works out to about $2 million per channel. And some of those channels have 20 plus shows. It's fair to say $2 million in display advertising isn't about to win you an election, let alone allow too many brands to break through the culture.
Ricki Lake Starts Her Own Social Network (Ad Age / Media News)
When Ricki Lake returns to the airwaves Sept. 10 after an eight-year-absence, her TV show won't be the only thing being updated. The syndicated talk program will also try to rework the way daytime programmers keep up with viewers by launching its own social network to draw in fans, help them create "meet-ups" and solicit their videos and votes.
Camille Edwards Named VP of News at WABC (TVSpy)
Camille Edwards has been named vice president of news at New York City ABC O&O WABC, taking over for Kenny Plotnik, who left the station in May. B&C Edwards has been at WRC Washington since 2008, following a news director stint at WMAQ Chicago from 2003 to 2008. FishbowlNY Edwards has more than 20 years of journalism and management experience, including major market stops in Washington, Chicago, and Philadelphia.