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Thursday, Nov 01

Morning Media Newsfeed 11.01.12

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Kurtz: Sandy 'Lived Up To The Media Hype' (TVNewser)
CNN's Howard Kurtz writes about Hurricane Sandy, and argues that not only did the storm live up to the hype, but that it showed the value of non-stop news, even when the information presented is fragmented, incomplete or incorrect. CNN / Howard Kurtz And that, even in this age of media fragmentation, may be cable TV's greatest service. We watch and experience the highs and lows together, even those in parts of the country that are unaffected. It is the polar opposite of a presidential campaign, with its relentless hyper-partisanship. In fact, by upending the final week of the campaign, the hurricane and the media attention surrounding it provided a uniquely unifying moment. HuffPost Network morning shows were supposed to have lavish Halloween celebrations on Wednesday -- perhaps the ultimate example of what their critics would call a move to entertainment over news. Instead, sober anchors spoke over pictures of burnt-out neighborhoods, as the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy continued to be felt. NYT Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on every type of news outlet across the East Coast this week, sending a reminder in this age of nonstop information that Mother Nature could silence them all. International Business Times / Palash R. Ghosh While I was deeply engrossed in reports of 90 mph wind gusts, surging tides, knocked out power, flooded neighborhoods, burning homes and shut-down subways, I was just as fascinated by the phenomenon of early 21st-century TV news broadcasts (and I was reminded as to why I usually shun such programs). Forbes / Venkatesh Rao It was surreal: In their efforts to keep up, mainstream media ended up portraying Sandy like an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos, and themselves as completely out of touch. Calgary Herald / Andrew Mitrovica There will always be at least one fool. And, on cue, the latest poster boy for stupidity masquerading as reportage is CNN business reporter turned hurricane hunter, Ali Velshi.

Readers OK With Paywalls if Given 'a Compelling Justification' (
Two professors say New York Times execs failed to adequately explain the need for their paywall when it was launched -- they simply said it would strengthen the company's "journalistic mission" and allow "digital innovations" -- and that other papers should learn from that mistake and do a better job justifying their new charges. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking When participants were provided with a compelling justification for the paywall -- that the NYT was likely to go bankrupt without it -- their support and willingness to pay increased. In contrast, when participants were provided with a justification that emphasized financial stability, their support and willingness to pay decreased. paidContent That said, "most readers planned not to pay and ultimately did not," the authors write. They "decreased their visits, devalued the NYT, and frequently planned to exploit loopholes to bypass the paywall or switch providers altogether." So guilt is a somewhat effective weapon, but it's not a guaranteed way to get readers to pay. Indiana Public Media The Bloomington Herald-Times has made subscribers pay to access its website for years. Editor Bob Zaltsberg says revenues made from paywall are reinvested in the news enterprise. Toronto Star / Rosie DiManno I understand that whoever invented the Internet -- and it wasn't Al Gore, though he takes credit -- envisioned a free-for-all repository of stuff, though perhaps the interactive function hadn't been originally foreseen. But it costs big bucks to put out a decent paper, even if we're not the New York Times, as so many have snidely observed.

On Punditry And Predictions (TVNewser)
Politico writes about the coverage of the election through the lens of the horse race. The short version: pundits are reluctant to make predictions as to who is going to win, because who knows! Politico "I think more than any other race I've covered this is one where both sides genuinely seem to believe they're going to win. That's different," ABC News correspondent Jon Karl said. "Given that, it's hard for somebody covering the race to make a call. I'm completely confused. I have no idea who's going to win. And I usually have a sense of who's going to win." TIME / Tuned In Come next Tuesday night, we'll get a resolution (let's hope) to a great ongoing battle of 2012: not just the Presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, but the one between the pundits trying to analyze that race with their guts and a new breed of statistics gurus trying to forecast it with data. Nieman Journalism Lab Nate Silver's FiveThirytEight blog at The New York Times really only does one thing: It makes election predictions. But it does this differently than pretty much everyone else, because it aggregates all available polls using a statistical model calibrated with past election data. He has his critics among the political class, but to my eye, it makes pretty much all other election "horse race" coverage look primitive and uninformed.

Facebook Tests New Streamlined Timeline Layout (AllFacebook)
Facebook changed the game for marketers (and irked several users) when it made the switch to the timeline format. Now it looks like the social network might tweak timeline a bit, making it more of a single-column format. The Next Web While there are still two columns, the left one is for items shared on a user's profile (Wall posts, status updates, and so on) while the right one is for everything else you want on your profile (boxes for Friends, Photos, Places, and so on). Gizmodo No more having to move your eyeballs slightly from side to side. Newer things are higher, older things are lower. This will be easier to follow, but also wastes a lot of space, making Timeline half as wide as it is now. CNET When Timeline was first introduced, it prompted mixed reviews from users, with some hating the change. But really, any changes to the social network's design seem to send folks into a frenzy.

Aaron Sorkin Finally Joins Twitter (THR)
The Newsroom creator tweets twice, posting a photo and asking for actress Alexandra Silber's rendition of The West Wing theme song. We're now waiting for reports of pigs flying. Salon There just is something delightful and ticklish about Sorkin, Web-disdainer, tweeting: It's the kind of event that could birth a whole new verse in Alanis Morissette's definitionally confused "Ironic." Entertainment Weekly / PopWatch How many wonders will Sorkin's Twitter hold? We won't know until the Oscar winner tweets more -- though considering Sorkin's Internet history, it's amazing enough that this account exists in the first place.

Samsung Says Tablets to be New Growth Engine (WSJ / Digits)
After a slow start in ramping up its tablet business Samsung Electronics Co., the biggest smartphone maker by shipments, has signaled it will aggressively push out new models to expand in the market. Contra Costa Times Here's a basic but handy guide for the uninitiated who have never purchased a computer tablet (about 80 percent of Americans still don't have one).

Novelist Nicholas Sparks Gets Into TV (GalleyCat)
Bestselling novelist Nicholas Sparks is developing projects for television, including a show based on his novel, A Bend in the Road. THR At ABC Family, Sparks is teaming with John Norris -- who co-executive produced the channel's Jane by Design -- on The Falls, a modern re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet. The UTA-repped Norris was also a supervising producer on One Tree Hill. HuffPost Meanwhile, Lifetime's Deliverance Creek will follow a woman as she attempts to protect her family after the civil war. Sparks has seen several successful novel adaptations in film form including The Notebook, A Walk To Remember, Dear John, The Last Song and more.

Pentagon Sees Further Use of BlackBerry as Door Opens to Others (Yahoo! News / Reuters)
The Pentagon on Wednesday said it would continue to support "large numbers" of BlackBerry phones made by Research in Motion Ltd even as it moves forward with plans that would allow the U.S. military to begin using Apple Inc's iPhone and other devices. CNET RIM has enjoyed many exclusive contracts with different U.S. government agencies over the years. Various iterations of the BlackBerry have provided the high-level security requirements needed by the government. However, at this point, it looks like tight security just isn't enough.

Romney is Butt of Late Night, Study Finds (FishbowlDC)
No wonder GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney avoids late night talk shows. The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University has a new study out that reveals that late night talk show hosts hit Mitt more than just about all Democrats combined since the party nominating conventions. The Washington Post / The Fix Part of this, undoubtedly, is the left-leaning nature of the entertainment business. While it's clear as day that Stewart and Colbert are no fans of the Republican Party, Republicans have also accused Letterman of drifting leftward in recent months, and the host has offered some pretty sharp jokes about Romney, who has often chosen to appear on Leno's show over his own.

Why Apple (and You) Might Miss Scott Forstall (Wired / Gadget Lab)
Apple announced Monday that iOS chief Scott Forstall would be leaving the company. While most commenters seem happy to see him go, it's worth noting that Apple is parting ways with one of the people who turned it into the world's most powerful tech company.

Spider-Man Co-Creator Talks to Ga. Arts School (Yahoo! News / AP)
Before he scripted the first adventures of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, a young Stan Lee launched his career in comic books as a lowly sidekick. To hear Lee tell it, the artists he worked for as a teenage assistant in 1940 might as well have dubbed him the Anonymous Eraser-Boy.

Soledad O'Brien Is Having A Moment (HuffPost)
When she spoke to The Huffington Post in January about her then soon-to-start CNN morning show, Soledad O'Brien said she wanted to make "conversation" a key part of her program. "I think I do conversation well," she said. "I think I can do context well...and I think that, if I can bring that to a morning show, we can be very successful." 11 months later, O'Brien's conversations with guests on Starting Point are getting her a lot of attention.

Users Can Bypass EdgeRank, Opt-In To See All Facebook Page Posts (AllFacebook)
The biggest recent gripe by brands on Facebook (as well as George Takei and Mark Cuban) has been the fact that fans don't see all of their posts. Now, it appears that users can fix this. A reader tipped off sister site Inside Facebook, showing that some users can select to see notifications on desktop and mobile each time a page posts.

Star Wars: Episode 7 -- Were We Wrong About George Lucas All Along? (Christian Science Monitor / Culture Café)
The news that Star Wars: Episode 7 is on its way and that Disney has bought the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas raises the prospect that the world is only now beginning to understand his vision for the classic trilogy. Disney buying Star Wars could cause a Lord of the Rings-like universe expansion.

Basic Tech Tips For Journalists: Filter Out Email Overload (10,000 Words)
There's a fine line between spam email and PR pitches when it comes to emails that land in reporters' inboxes. Both of them can inundate the receiver and slow them from finding or seeing important messages. I wanted to give some quick advice on how to make these messages more manageable. In a word? Filters.

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