Saturday, April 12, 2008

Assignment for April 14, Arrrrgh...

Avast me hearties,

Remember that the final version of your feature story is due by Monday. That is the DEADLINE. Remember to type double-spaced, check spelling, grammar and AP style, and email a version to yer instructor as a Word document. Students who miss the story deadline are subject to a fate so horrible to contemplate that my fingers tremble as they touch the keyboard. Woe to them who stare into the bloodshot eye of Deadline... and blink. Telling of it will make your blood run cold. Arrrgh, Cap'n Deadline takes no prisoners. You could ask his parrot Polly, except she oddly disappeared last Thanksgiving when the roast turkey was late in arriving. His brother in arms, Cap'n Hook had two hands when... but I'd better not tell you that one. Let this be a warning to ya!

Arrrrrgh... Sphere: Related Content

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fox, Fox, Fox, Fox, Fox, Fox, Fox...

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Zell Encourages His Minions

[Downtown News] Sphere: Related Content

Entire Le Monde Staff Strikes to Stop 130 Layoffs

Staff at Le Monde, France's newspaper of record, will go on strike on Monday to protest against savage job cutting plans, threatening publication of the paper for only the second time in its 64-year history.

Le Monde's management announced last week that 130 jobs would have to go, two-thirds of which will be in the newsroom. The newsroom cuts represent one in four journalists or about 87 staff.

These cuts, which even Le Monde's new management accept are drastic, are part of plans to turn around the loss-making paper.

The 24-hour strike on Monday, April 14, over job cuts could mean that Le Monde's Tuesday edition does not reach newsstands. Le Monde is an evening newspaper, published every day except Sunday, from about lunchtime, and the edition that comes out on Monday will be dated Tuesday, April 15. [Click for MORE]

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OurTown Hopes to Claim Hyperlocal News Market With 70,000 Websites

Many startups such as Local Edition and Backyard Post are attempting to claim the "hyperlocal" news market. OurTown is the newest player, which boasts 70,000 hyperlocal websites across the country. George Blake, former editor and 20 year veteran of the Cincinnati Enquirer is now chief news officer for OurTown.

Blake believes that the best definition of "hard news" is the news "most important to your readers." Thus, editors must discover what people want to read and respond accordingly: if people want local entertainment and activities, provide a community calendar, if people want school, church, kids sports news, provide links to their specific-interest site. There will also be chat rooms for people to discuss local issues, according to Blake. He hopes that this very local content will distinguish OurTown from bigger local sites such as Yelp.

"You want to know about the local festival 10 minutes from your home, not the one 50 miles away," said Blake. " When you go to your OurTown website, you will read stories about places and people you recognize in your community." [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Rumor du Jour: Geffen and Zell Talking About LAT

From LA Observed:

Just passing along what I was told this morning from a possibly good source — no confirmation, no independent reporting, no warranty implied. But my contact travels in the right circles to have picked up the scent and reports hearing from "three excellent sources (all with first hand information)" that David Geffen is in talks with Sam Zell to buy the Los Angeles Times from Tribune. The talks are serious enough, my source hears, that the moguls may have been close to a deal last week. For what it's worth. [LAO]

> What to make of LAT rumors Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Couric’s Fate Was Topic A in CBS Suite

A wide-ranging discussion in February about Katie Couric’s future as the anchor of the “CBS

Evening News” threatened on Thursday to turn her into a virtual lame duck in the job.

The discussion took place in New York on Feb. 28 and involved four people: Ms. Couric; her agent, Alan Berger of the Creative Artists Agency; Sean McManus, the president of CBS News; and Leslie Moonves, the chairman of CBS. The meeting took place in Mr. Moonves’s office.

The conversation included what one participant said was some “idle talk and musings” about the big question hanging over CBS News: should Ms. Couric leave her position as the news anchor after the presidential election, a development that had long been rumored. [Click for MORE]

> Parts of Rather’s Suit Against CBS Dismissed
> Local anchors may become extinct

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More Media Miscellany...

Daytona Beach News-Journal on the block

Editor & Publisher - 11 Apr 2008

The News-Journal Corp. is putting The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal up for sale.

Moody's downgrades Journal Register deeper into junk

Mark Fitzgerald - Editor & Publisher - 11 Apr 2008

Moody's Investors Service downgraded Journal Register Company's corporate debt rating two notches deeper into junk territory late Thursday on concerns the publisher of the New Haven (Conn.) Register is losing too much top-line revenue to cover its repayment obligations.

Newspapers in the USA - The next five years

World Association of Newspapers - 11 Apr 2008

Dean Singleton, the Vice Chairman and CEO of the MediaNews Group in the United States, has joined the programme of the World Newspaper Congress, where he will present his group’s strategy plans for the next five years, while addressing the current difficulties of the most challenging market in the world.

LANG consolidation stumbles onward

Gary Scott and Paul Oberjuerge - The Stress-Telegram - 11 Apr 2008

Gary Scott, aka Reporter-G, and Paul Oberjuerge bring us the latest episode in MediaNews' ongoing cost-cutting regimen. It turns out that as bad as things are in L.A. county, they're arguably even bleaker for our inland brethren.

Philly Guild suing newspapers over pensions

The Associated Press - 09 Apr 2008

The largest union of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News is suing the newspapers' owner for merging two employee pension plans without its consent, charging that one plan is severely underfunded and would endanger the health of the second pension.

NLRB rules against Santa Barbara News-Press

The Associated Press - 09 Apr 2008

A federal agency has dismissed a claim brought by the Santa Barbara News-Press against an employees union, concluding the newspaper failed to provide sufficient evidence that the union tried to interfere with newspaper sales.

-- From ChainLinks

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News Corp., AOL Pursue Yahoo Deals

Murdoch, Microsoft
Consider Joint Bid;
Google Ad Pact

Yahoo Inc. and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL are closing in on a deal to combine their Internet operations, a move aimed at thwarting Microsoft Corp.'s effort to acquire Yahoo, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

But Microsoft is recrafting its assault plan by talking with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, about mounting a joint bid for Yahoo, people familiar with the matter said. Microsoft and News Corp. have yet to reach an agreement on joining forces but one person apprised of the plan described the discussions as serious. Such a deal would combine three of the biggest Internet properties: News Corp.'s MySpace, Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo. [Click for MORE]

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

CBS News, Katie Couric Are Likely to Part Ways

Barring a Change, Departure Could Follow the Election; A Successor to Larry King?

After two years of record-low ratings, both CBS News executives and people close to Katie Couric say that the "CBS Evening News" anchor is likely to leave the network well before her contract expires in 2011 -- possibly soon after the presidential inauguration early next year.

Couric isn't even halfway through her five-year contract with CBS, which began in June 2006 and pays an annual salary of around $15 million. But CBS executives are under pressure to cut costs and improve ratings for the broadcast, which trails rival newscasts on ABC and NBC by wide margins.

Her departure would cap a difficult episode for CBS, which brought Couric to the network with considerable fanfare in a bid to catapult "Evening News" back into first place. Excluding several weeks of her tenure, Couric never bested the ratings of interim anchor Bob Schieffer, who was named to host the broadcast temporarily after "Evening News" anchor Dan Rather left the newscast in the wake of a discredited report on George W. Bush's National Guard service. [Click for MORE]

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Expect More Tpyos at Daily Journal

OMG! The Daily Journal, provider of legal news in Los Angeles, has done away with copy editors. LA Observed is hot on the story. [Click for DETAILS] Sphere: Related Content

Zell: Journalists Are 'Overhead'

Listen Now [4 min 52 sec]

"This is the first unit of Tribune that I've talked to that doesn't generate any revenue. So all of you are overhead," [Tribune boss Sam] Zell said during the late February meeting with editors and reporters for the company's Washington bureau.

Most reporters and editors who cover the government don't consider themselves overhead — they describe themselves as fulfilling a key role newspapers play in a democratic society.

But Zell doesn't stand much on ceremony. He has already fired a bunch of executives at his Chicago headquarters and said he wants immediate, radical change at the company's 11 daily papers and 23 TV stations. [Click for MORE]

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CBS Layoffs Signal Financial Squeeze on TV Stations

When veteran Los Angeles news anchors Harold Greene and Ann Martin were felled by a round of jobs cuts last week, they were in good company.

At least 160 employees at CBS Corp.-owned television stations in 13 cities were let go, including such seasoned broadcasters as prominent Chicago anchor Diann Burns, renowned Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel and longtime Minneapolis meteorologist Paul Douglas.

The jettisoning of such experienced on-air talent exposed the weakening of the once-robust local station business, which historically has enjoyed some of the fattest profit margins in the media industry. It marked a dramatic shift from the days when television stations paid top dollar to attract big-name anchors such as Greene and Martin, who have been TV mainstays in Los Angeles for three decades.

Today, stations are feeling the same financial squeeze as their newspaper and network news brethren. An economic slowdown, combined with changes in news consumption patterns and the migration of advertisers to the Internet, have contributed to a lean start to a year that was supposed to benefit from a gush of political advertising. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Assignment for April 9

Any member of the class who missed the Monday deadline for the rough draft of his or her feature story, needs to immediately email it to your instructor and to be prepared to present that draft to the class on Wednesday. A final version is due on Monday, April 14. Sphere: Related Content

Newspapers: Buyer Beware

So why would anyone buy a newspaper? Well, for one thing, they make money. Despite the Internet and the slowing economy, many newspapers remain highly profitable.

"They still tend to have pretty strong market position in their local markets, the deepest investment in newsgathering and content of any other companies in their local area and they can monetize that with premium ad rates that have translated into good earnings and cash flow,'' said John Puchalla, a credit analyst for Moody's (nyse: MCO - news - people ). "The tough revenue environment makes it an unattractive equity story, but if you're conservatively levered, you can manage through these downturns."

Moreover, the newspaper operations of publicly traded media companies posted an average operating margin of nearly 17% in 2007, according to independent newspaper analyst John Morton. [Click for MORE]

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Downie Assesses Pulitzer Sweep for 'Post': Why This Year?

Is it irony or just today's newspaper reality that The Washington Post won nearly half of the Pulitzer Prize journalism awards on Monday -- its most ever -- just a week after launching its second buyout in less than two years? [Click for MORE]
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Sam Zell Must Be Proud


> Will Tribune Stop the Presses at LAT Plant in Orange County?
> New York Times kicks off new press

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Will Tribune Resort to Credit Lines?

There's probably no other choice, since the company (parent of the LAT) is among the many that won't have enough cash to cover debt repayments over the next two years. Credit lines become the last-ditch alternative. But even if Tribune taps its entire $750 million credit line, it still may not be able to pay back debt that matures in the next two years. By the way, Tribune bonds due in 2015 have fallen to 37 cents on the dollar. [Bloomberg]
[LA Biz Observed]

> Journal Register stock plummets on bankruptcy report
> Details on wide Seattle Times cuts emerge: Layoffs and closing bureaus
> In six months, they'll all be idiots, too
> Harbinger presses Media General Sphere: Related Content

Monday, April 7, 2008

CBS Might Outsource Newsgathering

CBS, the home of the most celebrated news division in broadcasting, has been in discussions with Time Warner about a deal to outsource some of its news-gathering operations to CNN, two executives briefed on the matter said Monday.

Over the last decade, CNN has held intermittent talks with both ABC News and CBS News about various joint ventures. But during the last several months, talks with CBS have been revived and lately intensified, according to the executives who were given anonymity because of the confidential nature of the negotiations.

Broadly speaking, the executives described conversations about reducing CBS's news-gathering capacity while keeping its frontline personalities, like Katie Couric, the CBS Evening News anchor, and paying a fee to CNN to buy the cable network's news feeds.

Another possibility, these people said, would be for CBS to keep its correspondents in certain regions but pair them with CNN crews. [Click for MORE]

> CBS: No Plans To Outsource News Operations

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'Wash Post' Captures 6 Pulitzers, 'NYT' Takes 2

The Washington Post was the big Pulitzer Prize winner on Monday, taking home six of the 14 journalism categories -- including the coveted Public Service award -- the most ever for the newspaper. Winners were announced at 3 p.m. at Columbia University.

The Post's six-prize sweep is second only in history to The New York Times, which won seven Pulitzers in 2002, many for its Sept. 11 coverage.

The Times won two Pulitzers this year, for investigative reporting and for Explanatory Reporting. There was a tie in the investigative category, with the Chicago Tribune also getting the nod.

The board offered no winner in editorial writing, the first time that has occurred in that category since 1993. [Click for MORE]

Public Service: The Washington Post for exposing the mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital.

Breaking News Reporting: The Washington Post staff for its coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Investigative Reporting: Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker of The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune Staff. The Times won for stories on toxic ingredients in medicine and other products imported from China; the Tribune for exposing faulty regulation of toys, car seats and cribs.

Explanatory Reporting: Amy Harmon of The New York Times for her examination of the dilemmas and ethical issues that accompany DNA testing.

Local Reporting: David Umhoefer of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for stories on the skirting of tax laws to pad pensions of county employees.

National Reporting: Jo Becker and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post for their exploration of Vice President Dick Cheney's influence on national policy.

International Reporting: Steve Fainaru of The Washington Post for his series on private security contractors in Iraq that operate outside most of the laws governing American forces.

Feature Writing: Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post for chronicling the violinist Joshua Bell as he played beautiful music in a subway station filled with unheeding commuters.

Commentary: Steven Pearlstein of The Washington Post for columns exploring the nation's complex economic ills.

Criticism: Mark Feeney of The Boston Globe for his command of the visual arts, from film and photography to painting.

Editorial Writing: No award.

Editorial Cartooning: Michael Ramirez of Investor's Business Daily for what the judges called his "provocative cartoons."

Photography: Adrees Latif of Reuters for his photograph of a Japanese videographer, sprawled on the pavement, fatally wounded during a street demonstration in Myanmar.

Feature Photography: Preston Gannaway of the Concord (N.H.) Monitor for her chronicle of a family coping with a parent's terminal illness.


Fiction: "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," by Junot Diaz (Riverhead Books)

Drama: "August: Osage County," by Tracy Letts

History: "What Hath God Wrought: the Transformation of America, 1815-1848," by Daniel Walker Howe (Oxford University Press)

Biography: "Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father," by John Matteson (W.W. Norton)

Poetry: "Time and Materials," by Robert Hass (Ecco/HarperCollins) and "Failure," by Philip Schultz (Harcourt)

General Nonfiction: "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945," by Saul Friedlander (HarperCollins)

MUSIC: "The Little Match Girl Passion," by David Lang, premiered Oct. 25, 2007, at Carnegie Hall, New York. (G. Schirmer, Inc.)


> The Pulitzers site has a list of winners and finalists (
> It's the Reporting, Stupid

A wounded Japanese photographer, Kenji Nagai, lay before a Burmese soldier yesterday in Yangon, Myanmar, as troops attacked protesters. Mr. Nagai later died. Published September 28, 2007.
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Carolina Garcia Named New L.A. Daily News Editor

Carolina Garcia was named the new executive editor of the Los Angeles Daily News this morning, the newspaper's publisher announced.

Garcia, 53, comes to the Daily News after five years as executive editor of The Monterey County Herald. Before that she was managing editor of the San Antonio Express-News from 1998 to 2003.

She replaces Executive Editor Ron Kaye, who resigned Friday. [Click for MORE]

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Seattle Times to Cut Approximately 200 Employees

Memo to Seattle Times employees:

Due to the continued and increased loss of traditional newspaper revenue for both The Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I, we will be making necessary expense reductions. Our circumstances are in line with the newspaper industry nationally, which continues to see steep declines particularly in areas of Classified ad revenue and also a slowing of online revenue growth. [Click for MORE]

> More details from Sphere: Related Content

From Linotype to Wild West Web in One Lifetime

By Mark Patinkin
Providence Journal Columnist

The Newseum — a museum on the history of news — is about to reopen in a big new space in Washington, D.C., and one of its exhibits got me thinking.

It’s a pair of slippers used by a blogger.

They symbolize how folks who shuffle from bed to computer to post thoughts online are becoming as much a part of global news content as the professional media.

It made me realize the changes in my business say a lot about far broader changes.

I have to admit, I didn’t see them coming. [Click for MORE]

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L.A. Times fully 'Retracts' Tupac Shakur Story

LA Observed is on top of it yet again...

ShakurForget Saturday's Guantanamo correctionthis is your correction o' the week, if not o' the year. It has to be especially painful for LAT staffers, coming out on the day that the best in newspaper journalism is rewarded with Pulitzer prizes. I expect that the New York Times will win at least one Pulitzer for reporting, the Washington Post will collect even more and the new L.A. Times, well, it will be shut out and make news for one of the most embarrassing mistakes in its history. (Pulitzers are announced at noon.)

[Click for MORE]

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Sam Zell: A Tough Guy in a Mean Business

New York Times

Since taking control of the Tribune Company in December, Sam Zell has drawn a lot of attention in journalism circles for speeches laced with profanity, political incorrectness, insults and self-deprecating humor.

But all the twittering and tut-tutting over Mr. Zell’s remarks — and his suggestions that some reporting jobs are not needed — masks a more serious concern. With the newspaper industry going through an unexpectedly sharp contraction, Tribune is struggling under $12.8 billion in debt, and its financial condition has deteriorated, creating what specialists say is a very real risk of credit default in the next year or so.

That has forced the company to consider the sale of Newsday, one of its most profitable newspapers — precisely the kind of move Mr. Zell had said he did not want to make. “We didn’t do this deal to figure out what to get rid of,” he told the company’s flagship paper, The Chicago Tribune, last year.

Mr. Zell said from the start that he would sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team, but that deal has been delayed. Now, analysts say, Tribune probably needs to sell both the Cubs and another major asset like Newsday, and relatively soon, to remain solvent.

Of course, if this house is ablaze, Mr. Zell has supplied much of the kindling. Almost $8 billion of Tribune’s debt came from the highly leveraged deal, which he engineered, that took the company private. That borrowing now looms as the biggest threat to the company, at least in the short run.

“There’s very little margin of safety,” said Mike Simonton, senior director at Fitch Ratings. “The company needs to execute asset sales and cost cuts in order to make its debt service payments and offset the significant revenue declines.” [Click for MORE]

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Road Scholar Copy Edits America

Brian Rooney reports on ABC:

Some of the littlest things are big to Jeff Deck, who is traveling the country in search of mistakes.

He's not looking for big ones, just the small ones like the missing "c" in "cappucino" and the misplaced apostrophe in "Today Special's" on the menu board.

This 28-year-old Dartmouth graduate is crossing America searching for and correcting typographical errors in public places.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Carolina Garcia Rumored to Be New Daily News Editor

Carolina Garcia, executive editor at the Monterey County Herald, is rumored to be a leading candidate to succeed Ron Kaye as editor of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Garcia, a Texas native, came to the Herald in 2003 after five years as managing editor at the San Antonio Express-News. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content