Media News

Tuesday, Oct 09

Morning Media Newsfeed 10.09.12

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NYT Staffers Walk Out: 'We're Just Looking for a Fair Contract' (FishbowlNY)
Monday afternoon around 3:30, about 375 New York Times staffers walked out in an effort to protest management's handling of contract negotiations. "We're trying to save the essence of The New York Times," said Metro columnist Michael Powell. CBS News According to a memo sent to New York Times guild members on Monday posted on, employees were asked to exit through the 40th Street entrance of the Midtown Manhattan building, walk down the block and reenter at the 41st Street entrance in order to signify their disapproval over the current talks. "It is time to raise our voices," said a memo to members. One of those actions was a walkout at 3:35 Monday afternoon. "This is not a job action," the guild notes. "We want you to participate if you have flexibility in your work schedule that permits a 10- or 15-minute break at 3:35." HuffPost Times reporters Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Richard Pérez-Peña counted between 375 and 400 participants, McNeil told The Huffington Post. New York Observer The protesters wore white stickers with the words "Believe Us" printed on them. At one point after they reassembled, they applauded themselves for a rousing show of solidarity. A similar walk-out of about 23 union members took place at the company's Washington, D.C. bureau Monday. The Wrap The walkout follows a recent meeting of 200 staffers to discuss collective action after 18 months of working without a contract. Capital New York Contract negotiations are scheduled to resume Tuesday at 10 a.m. A spokesperson for the Times, asked to comment on Monday's action, wrote in an email to Capital: "We continue to remain focused on our priority of reaching a fair agreement with the Guild."

Jim Lehrer: No Regrets for Debate Moderating (Yahoo! News / AP)
Jim Lehrer said Monday that he accomplished precisely what he wanted to while moderating the first presidential debate: get Mitt Romney and Barack Obama talking to each other. The former PBS anchor said last week's confrontation, viewed by 67 million people, will be remembered as a watershed moment because it was a real debate instead of simultaneous interviews of the candidates. WNYC / WNYC News Blog "I was not there to do the challenging," said Lehrer, who is also the author of Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates. "I was there to facilitate the challenging, and if they weren't going to do that, I wasn't going to do the work for them." The Guardian / Elections 2012 Asked about Romney's repeated interruptions of Lehrer, he said people would be able to make up their own minds about the candidates' conduct. Philadelphia Daily News / Baer Growls Part of the problem, I'm convinced, is that all of us have grown used to broadcast "journalists" yelling at guests and being more participants in issue discussions than observers who allow both sides to have their say. Lehrer is old-school and correctly thinks moderators should moderate, not play along.

CNN Starting Film Unit (Yahoo! News / AP)
CNN says it is starting a new unit to make feature-length documentaries to show both on television and in movies theaters. Its first project, Girl Rising, tells the story of several girls fighting tough odds to achieve their dreams. It features voiceovers by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington and Selena Gomez. Richard Robbins, who made the wartime documentary Operation Homecoming, will direct it. NYT / Media Decoder Cut to CNN executives shopping at Sundance? "We very well might," said Mark Whitaker, executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide. Whitaker also envisions CNN working with a distributor for theatrical releases. THR The documentaries will center on political, social, and economic subjects that will also be examined in various CNN programs that air around each film. The unit is the latest programming announcement from the network, which has been struggling with sinking ratings that hastened the departure of CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton, who will step down at the end of the year. LA Times / Company Town At first glance, word that CNN plans to create a film unit to acquire and finance documentaries seems like more proof that the once-dominant cable news channel is struggling to conjure up ideas to keep up with Fox News and MSNBC.

Lena Dunham Reportedly Lands $3.7 Million Book Deal (GalleyCat)
Actor, director and Girls creator Lena Dunham has sold the book proposal for her book Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's Learned to Random House. According to the New York Observer, she inked a $3.7 million deal. New York Observer The proposal (obtained by the Observer) for Not That Kind of Girl, mocked up to look like a charmingly vintage advice paperback book that one might find in a thrift shop in an Ohio college town, includes sections on losing her virginity, diet, body image, crying at work, death and travel. NYT / Media Decoder Susan Kamil, the editor-in-chief and publisher of Random House, confirmed the acquisition on Monday, saying in a statement, "We're thrilled to welcome Lena to Random House. Her skill on the page as a writer is remarkable -- fresh, wise, so assured. She is that rare literary talent that will only grow from strength to strength and we look forward to helping her build a long career as an author." LA Times / Jacket Copy Dunham's Girls has been a critical hit and pop culture juggernaut for HBO. Can her book do the same for Random House? Slate / XX factor Twenty-something women have a buffet of love, sex, and shopping advice at our disposal, but not often, or ever, with the humor and intelligence that Dunham can bring to any of those subjects.

Nick News 'Disappointed' That Mitt Romney Declined to Appear in Special (TVNewser)
Nick News, the series of TV news specials on Nickelodeon, says it is "disappointed" that GOP candidate Mitt Romney declined to appear on this election cycle's Kids Pick the President special. President Obama is appearing, and taped his answers to kids' questions at the White House. Yahoo! News / AP The decision "disses" children, said Linda Ellerbee, the show's host and executive producer. During last week's presidential debate, Romney vowed to cut federal funding for PBS while acknowledging it's the home of popular Sesame Street character Big Bird. The Washington Post / The TV Column It's only the second time a candidate has declined to participate. Deadline Hollywood "By answering kids' questions directly, candidates show respect for kids," Nick News host Linda Ellerbee said in a statement Monday. "We are disappointed that Mitt Romney wouldn't take the time to answer the questions, but are thrilled that President Obama participated in the special."

Sprint Rolls Out Vanity Phone Numbers that Connect to Social Profiles (SocialTimes)
Sprint is doing for mobile phone numbers what Internet handles did for electronic mail. For $3 a month, customers can register for a personalized cellphone number. GigaOM Sprint launched a service called StarStar Me that lets a customer select a vanity number up to nine digits long. When any customer on a major U.S. mobile carrier dials that code preceded by two asterisks, a call will automatically be placed to the code's owner. Wired / Gadget Lab While we'd like to see a future free of phone numbers, StarStar numbers won't get us there. Although $3 a month isn't much, the last thing most of us need is yet another charge lobbed on top of our smartphone bills, which already hover around $100 a month.

John Cleese Lands Book Deal (GalleyCat)
Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and A Fish Called Wanda star John Cleese has inked a deal with Random House Group (UK) and Random House Inc. (US) for his autobiography. The title and the publication date have yet to be announced. THR The actor rose to fame when he joined with Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam to create Monty Python's Flying Circus in 1969. He left the BBC show three seasons into its four-season run, but continued to collaborate with the group on several hit films, including Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975) and Life of Brian (1979). NYT / Arts Beat Cleese said in a statement, "It's the perfect moment to look back on my life in anticipation of the next 50 years."

Ryan, Reporter Spar (Politico)
A Michigan ABC affiliate posted video of an animated exchange between Paul Ryan and a local reporter on Monday evening, prompting questions about whether Ryan walked out of the interview. HuffPost In the clip, which was removed from ABC 12's website but captured and posted by BuzzFeed, the station's reporter asks Ryan, "Does this country have a gun problem?" The GOP vice presidential candidate responds that "this country has a crime problem." When the reporter asks for clarification, Ryan explains that "good, strong gun laws" are currently on the books, "but we have to make sure we enforce our laws." Mediaite Romney spokesman Brendan Buck gave the following comment to BuzzFeed: "The reporter knew he was already well over the allotted time for the interview when he decided to ask a weird question relating gun violence to tax cuts. Ryan responded as anyone would in such a strange situation. When you do nearly 200 interviews in a couple months, eventually you're going to see a local reporter embarrass himself."

Turning a Utility into a Community: BranchOut's Metamorphosis (TechCrunch)
Love it or hate it, your job is a big part of your life. But you probably don't go to LinkedIn every day. Maybe you only visit a few times a year. BranchOut thinks your professional network should be more like a home than a tool. So five months ago it stopped updating its app in preparation for Monday. What's emerged is a more vivid way to tell the story of how you bring home the bacon. AllThingsD After the app reached 25 million registered users earlier this year, the company raised $25 million in venture capital (for an all-time total of $49 million, from Accel Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Mayfield, Norwest Venture Partners, and others). At this point, of 30 million users, 3.4 million use the app on a monthly basis. So -- now what?

Zynga Executive Overseeing Key Poker Game Departs (Yahoo! News / Reuters)
Zynga Inc's executive overseeing its key poker game has quit, hitting the gamemaker in a particularly vulnerable spot as it struggles with a steady employee exodus and falling revenue. The exit of former Zynga Poker general manager Laurence "Lo" Toney, announced on Toney's LinkedIn profile on Monday and confirmed by AllThingsD, comes as the company has been talking up real-money gambling as a growth opportunity worth billions of dollars in annual revenue. AllThingsD During his nearly three years at the company, he spent two years as the general manager of Zynga Poker, which is the company's longest-standing franchise. Following his stint in Poker, Toney held a general manager role in mobile, where he worked on its publishing efforts. Forbes / The Street The idea that Facebook or should buy Zynga stinks of surface-scratch thinking from people who couldn't come up with an original idea to save their virtual farms or frontiers. In fact, Facebook, Amazon and any other company even loosely related to the new media space should do everything in their power to stomp out Zynga.

Is Facebook's New Android App Almost Ready? (AllFacebook)
A while ago, Facebook announced that it will have a renewed focus on Android, as more users worldwide sign onto the site from devices using that operating system. Now there are rumblings that the new Android application could be released soon.

Does the Growth of PR 'Threaten Democracy?' (PRNewser)
Excuse us for the inflammatory headline courtesy of Guardian UK's media commentator Roy Greenslade -- but it certainly got our attention. We agree with Michael Ramah of Porter Novelli when he reassures us that any report of an "impending meltdown" within the public relations industry is nothing but a bunch of noise -- didn't we tell you in August that the business is doing "just fine, thanks?" Now here's the key question: Is the PR field growing too large and influential for its own good?

Interview: Facebook's First Head of Consumer Marketing Rebecca Van Dyck (Ad Age / Digital)
Facebook celebrated logging in its billionth user last week with a sleekly-made spot created out of agency-of-record Wieden & Kennedy. Whether the company is ready to take cues from Google and Microsoft and start committing to serious marketing outlays remains to be seen. Facebook's first head of consumer marketing Rebecca Van Dyck (formerly global CMO at Levi's) talked to Ad Age about making the ad, the message it's trying to send to people who aren't on Facebook yet, and Facebook's future as a marketer.

CBS News Adds Holly Williams to Correspondent Ranks (TVNewser)
CBS News has brought on Holly Williams as a correspondent. Williams, who had been based in China and now lives in Turkey, is a veteran foreign correspondent, most recently for SKY News. She has been reporting freelance for CBS for a few months now.

Even in Troubled Guatemalan Media, Journalism Ethics Matter (PBS / MediaShift)
Here are some questions to test your view about the importance of media ethics. In developing countries, where news media struggle to survive, how relevant is talk of ethics? When economic and political problems stagger news media, is it worthwhile to talk principles and ideal aims? Here are two views.

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