Thursday, March 20, 2008

Three New York Moguls in Talks to Buy Tribune's Newsday

Three of New York’s biggest moguls are in discussions to buy Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, from the Tribune Company, people involved in the sale process said Thursday.

The three interested bidders are Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the News Corporation, owner of The New York Post; Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the real estate developer and publisher who owns The Daily News, The Post’s tabloid rival; and James L. Dolan, whose family controls Cablevision, the cable television operator, these people said. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Newspaper Bars Are Vanishing

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Bay Area News Group Asks Staff
to Devise a 'NewPaper'

Leave it to the cost-cutters at MediaNews to try to sell their East Bay readerships a newspaper makeover that will improve the quality of journalism with fewer journalists.

Last week, local management sent its employees — well, those who survived the recent buyout purge — at the company's 23 East Bay newspapers, which include The Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune, a memo detailing a bold restructuring plan.

According to the March 12 memo, the key feature of the so-called "NewPaper Project" will be a task force of newsroom employees who will ask a series of fundamental questions about journalism in order to design an "innovative newspaper blueprint." The task force will question such elements as design, coverage priorities, and the breadth of coverage areas. In the memo, Kevin Keane, the executive editor of the Bay Area News Group (BANG), MediaNews' local consortium of papers, said he expected to roll out the NewPaper makeover by the end of the year. [Click for MORE]

> Despite the cuts, we're still dedicated to our community

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Murdoch Makes a Play for Newsday

Rupert Murdoch may not be done expanding his newspaper empire. The News Corp. chairman, who’s still digesting Dow Jones & Co., is now believed to have set his sights on Newsday.

According to one newspaper industry insider, the company has made a bid for Tribune Co.’s Long Island paper. Newsday also owns amNew York, a daily tabloid handed out free in New York City.

Talk of the bid has surfaced at the same time that Tribune’s new Chief Executive Sam Zell has said that an advertising downturn has forced him to consider selling off company assets. Additionally, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its corporate credit rating on the media company to B- from B this week. [Click for MORE]

> Zell: Need heroes to lead a sea change Sphere: Related Content

The Tribune Has a Sense of Humor -- Who Knew?

The winner of the Sun-Times' video contest about Wrigley Field naming rights is... a Chicago Tribune intern. See how she did it -- with a little help from her friends -- and watch the video.

We're Not Gonna Change It'

Here are the lyrics to "We're Not Gonna Change It" (sung to the tune of Twisted Sister's 1984 hit "We're Not Gonna Take It"):

We're not gonna change it! No! We'll never rename it! We will always call it Wrigley Field!
It's where we do our boozin' Where our team does its losin' Now some rich dude, he wants a change.
He'll name it after Old Style Or drugs for ills erectile Viagra Field sounds pretty strange.
We're not gonna change it! Zell! Don't try to rename it! It will always be OUR Wrigley Field!
Sam Zell may have the power And own the Tribune Tower Don't have the North Side's pride destroyed!
Nicorette Gum Park's a loser Don't give our name to Hooters Or products made for hemorrhoids!
Whoa-oh-oh Whoa-oh-oh We're right (yeah) You'll see (yeah) The Cubs have sucked (what?) For a century! (what?!?)
We're not gonna change it! No! We'll never rename it! We will always call it Wrigley Field!
We're not gonna change it! (@#$% NO!) we won't let Zell change it! He'll just have to stick with Wrigley Field!
We're not gonna change it! No! We'll never rename it! We will always call it Wrigley Field!

> See the runner-up videos HERE


> Tribune reports fourth-quarter loss of $78.8 million
> Tribune puts WSFL-TV and Sun-Sentinel under one roof
> Tribune to merge paper, TV operations in South Florida

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L.A. Herald Examiner Reunion, Part 3

(March 18, 2008)

By Rip Rense, columnist
The Rip Post

Early at the Herald-Examiner reunion last week at the L.A. Press Club, former editor Jim Bellows arrived on the arm of longtime friend (and successor at the Herald) Mary Ann Dolan. Bellows used a cane, and moved like a guy in his 80’s, because he is.

I said my hellos to both, and Bellows eyed me Irishly.

“Make. . .funny!” he said, eyebrows raised half-way to his hairline. He gestured inimitably with his right arm, haltingly, sort of like he was conducting Stravinsky.
That was it for me. After the guest panelists pontificated, after all the crazy happy/sad stuff that always happens at reunions happened, after all the big guts and baldness and menopause and trifocals and hair dye and Diet Coke, that’s what stuck:

“Make. . .funny!”

Bellows is legendary for cryptic stuff like this, if you don’t know. Instructions like “bip bip bip” (explaining the desired style of a column) have become fable. He once advised me to visit a particular bar because “it’s like the shade in a cave.”

He could also be more direct, of course, like the time I wrote a lede on a story about an unknown aspiring starlet with cleavage that the Space Shuttle could have landed in. The lede was "(Starlet) has extremely large aspirations.” Said Bellows, passing me in the Her-Ex city room, with a twinkle:

“Liked. . .that. . .lede.”

Well, of course. I made funny.

I had trouble taking his advice, though, at the Her-Ex reunion. Had trouble making this increasingly old heart lighten up. The paper is, after all, almost 20 years gone---not exactly a funny thing. But the event was really an excuse to honor Bellows, and most rightly. This is, after all, the man who took a strike-wrecked joke of a newspaper (except for sports, which was always good) and turned it into what in my view was easily the best in L.A. history. [Click for MORE]

> Defunct Santa Monica Outlook staff holds 10-year reunion Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How Did Charlie Rose Get His Black Eye?

For those of you watching Charlie Rose last night and wondering, "How did Charlie get that black eye?" or "What is that bandage doing on Charlie's face?" TechCrunch has the answer. He was, apparently, bruised trying to save his brand new MacBook Air:
Rose had a choice to make when he tripped on a 59th street pothole in New York City: protect his newly purchased MacBook Air, or his face — he chose the former. According to his producers, "The Macbook Air is fine, he showed us the blood stains on it this morning." [HuffPost]
> Anderson Cooper says he has skin cancer

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It's the Redundancy, Stupid

Why isn't your local newspaper surviving on the Web? Because there are too many media outlets selling the exact same news.

John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine

The yearly report on the news media is out, and there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. That is, the news world is at the end of the tunnel, and the train is headed rapidly toward it.

It is more than painfully clear that the current state of the newspaper during its transition to the Internet cannot be sustained. Even worse, newspapers cannot be supported at all by the transition to the Internet. Unfortunately, when all the research is read and analyzed, no real solution is apparent.

I think much of the problem stems from what I've been harping on for years: redundancy. Simply put, there are too many newspapers selling the exact same news. And because the owners of these papers do not understand the fact that the public hungers for original material, different from all the rehashed AP stories, papers will continue to slide. [Click for MORE]

> Will an on-demand world take away our water-cooler moments?

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Orlando Sentinel Digital Edition
to Replace Paper in Newsroom

On March 31, the Orlando Sentinel launches a digital edition and "as a result, the paper will no longer be available in physical form at the Sentinel offices," says a memo. "The decision to begin offering a digital edition was made in an effort to cut costs while expanding our digital product selection to our customers. In addition, there are significant financial benefits to the Sentinel, including increased ABC-audited circulation, lowered printing and distribution costs, and reduced future archival costs." [Romenesko]

> Rising prices hit newsprint publishers Sphere: Related Content

Dith Pran, One of Journalism's Heroes

Dith Pran, who worked with New York Times correspondent Sidney Schanberg in Cambodia in the 1970s and became famous when their story won a Pulitzer Prize and was made into the movie The Killing Fields, is very ill with cancer. He was most recently in the Roosevelt Care Center in Edison, New Jersey. We can hope for a miraculous recovery. After all, Pran survived years of brutality under the Khmer Rouge and walked across the border into Thailand in 1979 where he was reunited with Schanberg. In 1980, Pran joined the New York Times as a photographer and later founded the Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project to educate young Americans about the horrors that followed the Indochina wars in Cambodia.

For his valor, talent, intelligence, and loyalty, Pran is a remarkable man and is honored as such. But Pran also symbolizes something broader for journalism, among our greatest and least recognized assets: the local reporters and assistants in zones of conflict and turmoil who translate the complexities on the ground for foreign correspondents. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

LAT Puts Exclusive Hip-Hop War Story Online First

  • In 1994, Tupac Shakur was ambushed, beaten and shot at the Quad Recording Studios in New York. He insisted that friends of Sean 'Diddy' Combs (photo, right) were behind it. New information supports him. [Click for MORE]
  • Sean "Diddy" Combs has denied a report by the Los Angeles Times that his associates were responsible for the 1994 robbery and shooting of Tupac Shakur (photo, lower right) at a New York recording studio, and that he knew about the attack in advance.

  • "The story is a lie," the hip-hop mogul said in a statement Monday. "It is beyond ridiculous and completely false. Neither (the late rapper Notorious B.I.G.) nor I had any knowledge of any attack before, during or after it happened. ... I am shocked that the Los Angeles Times would be so irresponsible as to publish such a baseless and completely untrue story." [Click for MORE]

The story, written by Chuck Philips, was the first investigative report published as a Web exclusive, said Meredith Artley, editor of

"This piece was perfect for the Web," Artley said. "The Web audience skews younger. We had all these great multimedia elements, and we said we really don't need to wait to fit this in the paper."

A "smaller version" of the story may still run in the paper, she said.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

L.A. Times Reporters Move Into the Spotlight

When a film crew hits The Times' newsroom to re-create a story from its pages, reality gets a little weird.

Robert Downey Jr., center, stars as columnist Steve Lopez in “The Soloist.”

By Marjorie Miller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

When film producer Gary Foster walked across the frayed green carpet into the Los Angeles Times newsroom for the first time, he encountered an expanse of cluttered desks walled off by journalistic kitsch: notebooks stacked against Mao statues and Elvis paintings, Mexican piƱatas hanging above mounds of legal briefs, old photographs of Richard Nixon and Saddam Hussein.

The deeper he penetrated the reporters' sanctum, the weirder it got. There was the Lego Statue of Liberty over by the Web desk, half a surfboard in Foreign. But where others might see squalor, Foster saw inspiration. "I thought, 'This organized chaos is gorgeous,' " he said.

The artistic directors Foster brought in with him agreed, which is how the paper's newsroom last month became the set for "The Soloist," a film about the formerly homeless violinist Nathaniel Ayers, whose life on skid row has been chronicled in the Times by columnist Steve Lopez since 2005 and who will be the subject of a soon-to-be-published book. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Are Job Cuts Signaling The End For America's Newspapers?

The digital wave washing over newspapers has turned into a tsunami in the past several weeks, as hundreds of newsroom layoffs coast- to-coast are raising fears that the push for profits and a dismal economy are teaming up to accomplish the unthinkable -- putting the print industry in its grave.

Daily publications ranging from the San Jose Mercury News in the San Francisco Bay Area to the venerable New York Times have axed reporters and editors -- more than 750 -- in little more than a month, as competition from the online world has joined forces with financial pressures to put on the squeeze.

Sales, profits and circulation all are down sharply, as newspapers say they long ago abandoned the prospect of trying to stop the bleeding. Some now say they cuts are so deep, they have to "amputate" portions of their business to stay alive. Meanwhile, they're trying to embrace new media, but can't do so effectively because of constrained resources. [Click for MORE]

> There is no transition for newspapers, just constent, never ending change
> Advertisers and newspapers: Changing the game
> Report says Technology narrows news media's focus
> Web Has Unexpected Effect on Journalism
> Old media' winning new audience in US: report
> Seattle Times Co. explores sale of Blethen Maine Newspapers
> NYT Co. to add Harbinger's picks to slate of board nominees
> Gannett CEO gets a 36% raise as company's stock plummets
> Big gains reported for nearly all newspaper websites

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

L.A. Herald Examiner Reunion, Part 2

Former Herald Examiner Editors Mary Anne Dolan and Jim Bellows.
Click HERE for more reunion photos from the Daily News.

Bus Riders Turn Crime Fighters

San Gabriel Valley News

I heard this story last night at the Herald Examiner reunion and it bears repeating, simply because it's a fascinating look at how newspapers are shaped and what's news.

The story was told by Ron Kaye, the editor of the Los Angeles Daily News. He worked at the Her-Ex and specifically on the early morning shift, where his goal was to put out a late street edition of the paper.

One day, making cop calls I assume, he heard the story of a group of "punks" riding around in the back of a pick up truck spraying a fire extinguisher at unsuspecting people waiting at bus stops.

One lady was so incensed when this happened to her she climbed on the bus and asked the bus driver to chase the pick up. He did, and somehow the bus managed to catch up to the pick up and block it in such a way that the driver couldn't escape.

The police came, caught the bad guys and that was that.

Later when Kaye's editor, the legendary Jim Bellows came into the office, Kaye told him he had three stories to report, a homicide, some sort of robbery and the bus stop caper.

Bellows told him to lead with the bus stop story, simply by framing the information in a headline:

"Bus Riders Turn Crime Fighters"

Who wouldn't want to read that? [SGVN]

A Toast for the Dead

Fox 11 News

The Herald-Examiner was to me what the Great Depression and WWII were to my parents (sorry, Mom and Dad, that’s probably a stretch, maybe even sacreligious). In other words, working for that newspaper produced great horrors, adventures and joys…

Let me say, without fear of contradiction, that for ten years the Herald-Examiner was an experiment in anti-journalism. It was the creation of eccentrics who loved the news and were guided by a desire to get scoops and upset the city’s sacred cows; it told stories while others pontificated; its reporters ducked under the police tape at crime scenes to find out what really happened while other papers waited for the official version. [Click for MORE]

Hat-tip to LA Observed

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