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Media Audit

Newsweek Got Sold And No One Really Paid Attention

For a minute, we were all paying attention to Newsweek again. But just as quickly as our heads whipped around when we heard that the title had been sold to IBT Media, the company that owns International Business Times, our heads whipped back the other way because Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post.

Newsweek, which was meant to be revived by its association with Tina Brown’s site The Daily Beast, instead seems to be even more of a shell of the notable newsweekly it once was. For one, it stopped printing seven months ago and went all digital. Then, a number of notable staff left, including CEO Baba Shetty and editor Tunku Varadarajan. Finally, you had Newsweek owner Barry Diller saying publicly, “I wish I hadn’t bought Newsweek, it was a mistake.” Diller’s point was that a newsweekly’s time had passed at the rise of Twitter and other instant news. Sales pitching at its finest!

But the companies involved here would have us believe that this is a great sale and a great brand.

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The Latest News on Recently Launched DOGTV, Cable Channel for Canines

While Time Warner Cable and CBS continue their dogfight in a few major metro markets, a new cable channel, DOGTV, made its nationwide debut last weekend. The subscription-based network is designed for dogs, to keep them busy during the day when their owners are out. The 24/7 programming is available on DirecTV, via Roku boxes and online streaming. PRNewser learned the latest on the unique channel from Ron Levi, DOGTV’s founder.

Pet experts and animal trainers developed the content, aimed at entertaining, stimulating and relaxing dogs. They’re using real-world sounds, music, objects and animated movements, in three-to-five minute video segments. (about the same attention span as for human online video viewing). The goal is for canines who watch DOGTV to be less stressed, bored, depressed, and not as likely to experience separation anxiety. Plus, their owners will feel less guilty about leaving them behind. DOGTV employees can bring their dogs to work, though. As Levi noted, “They assist us with quality control.”

Levi commissioned extensive research to arrive at the right programming balance. Testing included monitoring dogs watching DOGTV at home. As a result, they eliminated barking sounds and shouting, which agitated canine viewers. Instead, they opted for stimuli to acclimate dogs to everyday life, such as car noises. Levi said “programs are all filmed according to dogs’ unique senses of vision and hearing. While all content is produced in-house, we’re open to ideas for future shows for dog parents.”

DOGTV’s popularity has exceeded expectations, Levi reported. While the channel doesn’t show ads, they have various partners. “For our pre-sale we partnered with Dog Is Good, Pet Best, Rover.com, and Pet Product Advisor to deliver a welcome kit to early subscribers”. He also noted the network’s involvement with animal charities. “Every time your dog enjoys DOGTV, pets in need are helped. DOGTV supports HSUS’ (Humane Society of the U.S.) Pets for Life program to extend the reach of animal services, resources and information to under-served areas.”

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The Return On Jeff Bezos’ Investment In “The Washington Post” Could Be Huge

Jeff Bezos‘ purchase of The Washington Post reconfirms that the newspaper industry is hurting, that the media industry is still in a state of flux, and that no matter how digital content gets, we still have a soft spot for ink. A venerable, old school newspaper that was founded in 1877 was bought by someone who has made their fortune in e-commerce and the news took over Twitter, with “WaPo,” “Washington Post,” and “Jeff Bezos” all trending at some point in the past 24 hours. It truly shows how mixed up and tremendous the media is right now.

As with any change at a media outlet, we wait to see if there will be shifts in the newsroom. Publicists who pitch WaPo are likely preparing for any changes to their media relations strategy. And we can’t forget that there are other properties impacted by this sale. The Root, Slate, and a number of other newspapers and properties are being separated from their anchor, which could also affect their futures. Though we can’t forget that the anchor lost 44 percent of its operating revenue in the past six years.

Clearly, this deal gives The Washington Post the opportunity to not just hover on the edge of survival, but to actually thrive. For Bezos, the paper’s success would reap more than just monetary fortunes.

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‘GMA’ Winning This Week’s Ratings Battle With ‘Today’

This was Savannah Guthrie‘s first week as co-host of the Today show, but it may not be an overall ratings winner.

According to preliminary numbers, Good Morning America is winning the week so far by 360,000 total viewers and 40,000 in the 25 to 54-year-old age range.

Ratings for the new show Good Afternoon America are also doing pretty well, with the program getting 1.92 million total viewers on Monday and 2.04 million on Tuesday.

Today is preparing to bring its A-game to the London Olympics, which kick off in a couple of weeks. Any thoughts about Guthrie’s co-hosting skill or Good Afternoon America? The comments section is open.

The Ralph Lauren Polo Pony Will Be At the Olympics

We’re going to have a very stylish American Olympic team, what with their new uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren. That uniform is being modeled at left by the stunning swimmer Ryan Lochte. Normally, Lochte has his shirt off, like he does on this Vogue cover. But that’s not really pertinent to this story.

So Ralph Lauren is going to get some major exposure, right? That oversized polo pony logo will be all over all of our screens. The media coverage started with a segment on the TODAY show. Watch that after the jump.

“Ralph Lauren is claiming that its Olympic uniforms are a ‘very classic, very elegant’ return to tradition,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog writes. “…Except those huge logos—a Big-Gulp-sized version of the demur small Polo pony—void all claims to classicism or elegance.”

Also, here’s something dumb.

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Print Magazines Seek Life Online Via Netflix-Inspired App

The well-documented rise of digital technology has not only changed the ways human beings consume information, but also changed how much they expect to pay for it: nothing.

Print media’s high hope is to transition its wares online, and to reinvent its outreach strategies so that consumers come back to the subscription magazine paradigm. Venerable competitors Time Inc., Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, and News Corp. joined forces in 2009 to form the joint venture Next Issue Media. That venture created a Netflix-inspired app to jump start sales and inspire iPad readers to purchase online subscriptions or single issues of magazines such as Vanity Fair, GQ, and The New Yorker.

Corralling all of these brands into one place could lead to more sales, but these publications need to do more than simply attract eyeballs. The public wants value.

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Revolving Door: ‘Good Afternoon America’; Guthrie on ‘Today’; and more

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Good Afternoon America starts today at 2 p.m. ET. The clip above offers a sneak peek of what to expect. The show replaces a failed daytime talk show called The Revolution, which we’d never even heard of. Hosts are Lara Spencer and Josh Elliot.

Meanwhile, over on the Today show, Savannah Guthrie made her official debut as co-anchor. We’ve got her opening moments in the video below and TVNewser has additional footage of her first day.
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Will ‘Seventeen’ Magazine Keep It Real?

Seventeen magazine has a compelling dilemma on its hands as the brand, which sells the dreams of pop culture to teenagers, is being asked by that same demographic to embrace reality.

Julia Bluhm, a 14-year-old resident of Waterville, ME, petitioned Seventeen magazine to feature girls as how they really appear and not doctor images by airbrushing out natural blemishes such as acne. Bluhm used social media to raise awareness and garnered 85,000 signatures for her petition on Change.org.

After much media coverage and social media buzz, Bluhm got a sit-down with Seventeen EIC Ann Shoket and a promise through the magazine’s “Body Peace Treaty” to “always feature real girls and models who are healthy.”

Industry experts extol the virtue of brands listening to their customers. Seventeen occupies a unique position, with its target female teen audience. And it markets a youthful version of glamour. The prevailing cultural norm dictates that flaws are anything but glamorous.

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Trying to Determine the Impact on News Corp.’s Publishing Arm

The News Corp. split separating the publishing arm (Wall Street Journal, HarperCollins, Times of London, etc.) from the entertainment arm (20th Century Fox, Fox News Channel, and other Fox broadcast stations, etc.) will have a limited impact on the company’s publishing business, at least in the short term.

The split makes the entertainment area look more profitable on paper, which is great for it. The now smaller publishing side will now have to face some of the same issues that other publishing companies face: feeling a greater bottom-line pinch from advertising declines and the continued need to rethink the business model, for example. According to The New York Times, the company’s many publishing properties were already undergoing a restructuring that eliminated job security.

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Revolving Door: Anderson Cooper; CNN; NBC News head talks Ann Curry, and more

Anderson Cooper revealed in an email to The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan that he’s gay. “I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud,” he adds. Perhaps more importantly, he said that he felt he needed to say something on this topic because people may have mistaken his reticence for feelings of shame. Moreover, instances of bullying and discrimination make speaking out a necessity.

“I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy,” Cooper writes at the end of his comments.

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