Sunday, December 20, 2009

Outsourcers Cast Eye on Editorial

Three years after North American newspapers began outsourcing ad production, publishers are considering contracting out their editorial operations.

At least two editorial contracting firms are beginning to aggressively woo publishers to use their services and one, Pagemasters North America, in mid-November was tapped by The Toronto Star to handle a portion of the daily's editorial operations. The Star will be the first North American paper to use an outside firm to perform editorial work. [Click for MORE]

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Sam Zell Must Face Tribune Employees’ Lawsuit Over Pension Plan

Sam Zell, the real estate investor who took the Chicago-based Tribune Co. private in an $8.3 billion stock buyback two years ago, must face an employee lawsuit claiming he knowingly violated federal pension laws. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

The Miami Herald Comes Hat In Hand

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Five Magazine and Newspaper Publishers
Introduce Their Digital Newsstand

Five major magazine and newspaper publishers on Tuesday announced plans to build an industry-standard platform to present their work on the Web, phones and e-readers in a richer, more flexible and more lucrative form than is possible today. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Q&A: Pete Hamill Talks About Newspapers,
Fiction and Life With Keyboard and Pen

Pete Hamill ponders his words during an interview in New York City in 2007.

Pete Hamill has lived the kind of life some author might latch onto down the road as a good blueprint for a script.

Born in Brooklyn in June, 1935, the eldest of seven first-generation Hamill kids with parents who immigrated from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Teenage sheet metal worker at the Brooklyn Navy Yards who earned his high school GED while serving in the military. Wide-eyed art and writing student at Mexico City College and then night school design student at Pratt Institute, taking advantage of the GI Bill of Rights.

Columnist for the New York Post, Daily News and Newsday who covered wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Northern Ireland.

Diligent producer of essays, articles and fiction who’s currently working on “the closing pages” for novel No. 11.

A full life, indeed.

Yet ask Pete Hamill to describe what he is, and he answers in one word.


Hamill takes a 3 p.m. phone call two days before Thanksgiving for an afternoon phone interview from his home in Manhattan. There’s wisdom in his well-seasoned New Yorker voice as he talks about life.

He says he started working on his novel at 9:30 a.m. and needed to come up for air anyway. [Click for MORE]

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'Los Angeles Times Today'... er, Yesterday...

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hearst Enters E-Reader Market With Skiff

Despite its silly name, magazine and newspaper publisher Hearst is confident that its new Skiff digital publishing technology will lead the charge in e-readers by the time the application/device is ready to launch.

Launching sometime early next year, Skiff-enabled devices will produce products far-and-above the similarly-proposed Time Inc. and Conde Nast digital magazines because, as Hearst media president Kenneth A. Bronfin told The Wall Street Journal, "We are going to create an entity by publishers, for publishers." [Click for MORE]

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

AOL to Produce News, Videos by the Numbers

AOL is putting the finishing touches on a high-tech system for mass-producing news articles, entertainment and other online content, the linchpin of Chief Executive Tim Armstrong's strategy for reviving the struggling 25-year-old Internet company after Time Warner spins it off next month. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Great Newspaper Gets Slutty

On a dare, an entertainment reporter steps into the shoes (and sultry zebra dress) of a 'Dancing With the Stars' contestant. In a grueling test of stamina and nerves, she discovers her inner shimmy. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 9, 2009

Warren Beatty gets OK to sue TribCo over Dick Tracy

Academy-award winning actor Warren Beatty can go ahead with a California lawsuit against a unit of bankrupt Tribune Co. over rights to comic strip detective Dick Tracy, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

According to court papers, Beatty bought the motion picture and television rights for Dick Tracy in 1985. He went on to star in and direct the 1990 film by the same name that won three Academy awards and also starred Dustin Hoffman, Madonna and Al Pacino.

Tribune has said an agreement that granted rights to Beatty had lapsed because the actor-director had not started work on a new project based on the character. [Click for MORE]

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Harold Evans on the Colbert Report

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Harold Evans
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Harold Evans, former editor of the Times of London and the Sunday Times, talks about being married to Tina Brown, getting knighted by the queen and exposing spies in the British government. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 2, 2009

The L.A. Herald Examiner -- 20 Years Gone

Nov. 2 is the 20th anniversary of the closing of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. See

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sam Zell: No Newspapers Can Survive

When posed with the question of whether or not he regrets his Tribune deal, Sam Zell admitted, "It's certainly the most amount of money I ever lost in a single deal."

He goes on to say that the entire newspaper industry, including Tribune, has seen a crash in revenue, and that "nobody can survive." -- Silicon Alley Insider

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Inventing LA -- The Chandlers and their Times

The film chronicles the epic saga of the most powerful family in Los Angeles history: the Chandlers. For four generations, they wielded unique influence through their newspaper, the Los Angeles Times. [Click to VIEW] Sphere: Related Content

News Co-op Gets Chicago Launch

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Just In -- I'll Now Work My Own Prompter

The day's news may soon rest in the hands -- and quite possibly on the feet -- of newscasters at WTTG, Channel 5, in Washington.

In a bid to save money, the station is planning to reassign the technicians who operate the electronic prompters that feed scripted news copy to the anchors while they're on the air. Instead, the station wants its anchors to do the job themselves.

WTTG, known as Fox5, intends to train its newscasters to operate prompters using a series of hand levers and foot pedals, all while they're reading the news as it scrolls by.

Some at the station worry that such a roll-your-own system could increase the potential for on-camera blunders, as anchors fumble for the right spot in their scripts. They also say that viewers may notice some awkward cranking and pumping beneath the anchor desk. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tribune Co. Papers Were Thin,
Now They'll Get Skinny

Tribune Co. is trimming the margins of its daily newspapers in an effort to improve its financial margins. All its daily newspapers -- including the Chicago Tribune -- will adopt a web width of 44 inches in the coming months, the company confirmed Tuesday.

Web width is a measurement of the size of a roll of paper for the presses, and for consumers it translates to the width of four broadsheet pages. By reducing the web width, the papers should realize a cost savings because less newsprint is required.

"Over the next several months, Tribune newspapers will convert to a 44-inch web-width, just as hundreds of other newspapers across the country have already done," a Tribune Co. spokesman said.

"This conversion will have no impact on content and little or no impact on advertising, as we standardized ad sizes across our newspapers earlier this year," the spokesman said.

Tribune Co.'s Baltimore Sun has had a 44-inch web width (or a broadsheet front page width of 11 inches) since late February. The other company papers will complete the conversion in late 2009 and early 2010.

The Chicago Tribune, like the Los Angeles Times, currently has a 48-inch web width, or a 12-inch broadsheet front page, although the Tribune's present layout is for a 46-inch web, the company said.

The South Florida SunSentinel, Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, Hartford (Conn.) Courant and the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., have a 46-inch web width and the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., has a 49-inch web width.

The longtime industry standard width was 54 inches, which meant a 13 1/2 inch front page, but it gradually has been reduced in the last decade. The Tribune began reducing its size in 2001.

Overseeing modifications to the presses will be crews from Goss International and Pressline Services Inc., according to, which first reported the change.

-- Chicago Tribune
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Kindle Killers? The Boom in New E-Readers

Amazon, the online retailing giant, did more than any other company to turn the sale of digital books into a real business with the 2007 launch of the Kindle electronic reader. The company has sold an estimated 1.7 million units of the handheld device in the U.S., and it's getting ready to ship millions more. On Oct. 6, Amazon announced that it would soon begin selling Kindles — complete with a key feature that allows users to wirelessly download e-books from Amazon — in more than 100 countries...

Major newspaper and magazine publishers, which are suffering mightily from the loss of subscribers and advertisers to the recession and the Internet, are also getting involved. News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Wall Street Journal, is reportedly considering a deal with Japanese consumer-electronics giant Sony, which in 2004 introduced the first commercially viable e-reader, to use a black-and-white display technology called electronic ink (also used by the Kindle). Sony is rolling out a new family of e-readers, including a pocket-size version and one with a large screen that's geared toward newspapers and magazines. [Click for MORE]
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Sad 25th Anniversary

Here's an essay by former exec Bob Rawitch about the demise of the Valley Edition which was launched on Oct. 4, 1984. It was written for the OFS, a group of retired Times Mirror employees. It is followed by a note from former publisher Tom Johnson. And here is a slideshow from the night the Valley plant closed
A Sad 25th Anniversary


It was 25 years ago tomorrow, Oct. 4, 1984, that the Valley Edition of the Times was launched. At its peak, we had about 100 staffers in Editorial alone. Today’s Times has one or two people hunting for stories in the San Fernando Valley, home to about 1.5 million people.

The decision to launch the edition was something for which as Suburban Editor I had lobbied for several years because Jack Kent Cooke bought the old Valley News and Greensheet, a throw-away, and had announced it was turning it into a paid-circulation daily newspaper. This was a real threat to the Times Valley circulation base of about 180,000, I argued to senior management, initially to no avail. Of course the major focus was on Orange County and the battle against the Register as OC, as it came to be known, was growing by leaps and bounds. It is hard to believe the Times now delivers the Register. What a strange media world it now is as everyone struggles to survive. Even more ironically, Otis Chandler back then told me one day he was glad it was Cooke who bought the paper instead of Tribune Co. “because Tribune knows how to run a newspaper, Cooke doesn’t!”

The paper in 1983 had already started building the Valley plant in Chatsworth to expand press capacity so we could have greater use of color generally and a separate daily full color Sports section for the upcoming ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles. In January I was in the buffet line in the old Picasso Room next to Otis who nonchalantly said, “Bob, I think it is time we start a daily edition in the Valley.” And just like that Dennis Britton and I headed a task force to set things in motion to study the issue and put together a plan. By the summer, a second-story news room was being constructed atop the press room and I was frantically hiring 36 reporters, editors, photographers and copy and news editors for an edition that would have “go up” pages in the old Metro section. Page three would be an open page for Valley news and the succeeding pages local Valley news and then L.A. news again.

Otis one day touring the steel-beamed structure with me went to the northwest counter of what would be the newsroom, looked over at the Santa Susana Mountains and said “this would be a great place for me to have an office.” I responded, “It’s your building, you can have an office anywhere you want.” He just laughed and of course did not have an office at the plant, though his late son Norman, until a brain tumor forced him into early retirement, was superintendent of the production facility there for a while.

Not everyone within editorial was a fan of the Valley Edition. Suburban was rapidly expanding its staff while Metro was not. Late in the week, we had as many as 12-14 pages of local ads and news that would precede the jumps from Metro front stories. There were the inevitable conflicts with Metro, often because they wanted our top stories for the Metro front. We usually agreed, but there were some days they’d want two or three stories, leaving our Valley display page weak. Other days, when news was slow in a huge geographic area that had no governmental agencies of its own, we struggled to fill from four to 12 pages with local news. Charles Carter, who went on to become editor of the National Law Journal, was Valley Editor. Drex Heikes, who subsequently held a number of senior positions within the Times and is now editor of L.A. Weekly, was city editor.

We hired a top quality staff and tried to provide excellent reporting and writing to Valley readers, similar to full run parts of the paper. But more than anything, we stopped using Suburban as a dumping ground or training ground, fulfilling a pledge that Noel Greenwood made to me when I became Suburban Editor in 1981. We hired people from the Rocky Mountain News, Kansas City Star, Dallas Morning News, Bergen Record, Ft. Lauderdale Sentinel and other major dailies. Many of the people we hired moved on to Metro, National and Foreign positions as reporters or editors. Michael Connelly, who wrote his first novel on the side while covering the police and Superior Court in Van Nuys, has gone on to become one of the nation’s leading crime novelists.

The good days lasted through the mid '90s when the paper started a series of buyouts and then the paper’s first layoffs in history. Unfortunately, as for the rest of the Times, it was the beginning of a slow decline for the newspaper, ending with the complete closure of the Valley Edition. A few years later the production facility was shut down and the $100 million plant was sold to become a Bratz dolls manufacturing plant. The smaller daily Ventura Edition, started in March 1990, is also now gone. Only Steve Chawkins, one of the original staffers, is still in Ventura where he covers the region now.

The editorial successes of both editions are too many to recount, but the paper won two Pulitzer prizes for coverage of the 1994 Northridge earthquake and a subsequent Van Nuys shootout, in great measure with the contributions of Valley staffers. Scores of successful journalists’ careers were launched. And those of us who were a part of those two editions had a hell of a good time while it lasted.


On Bob Rawitch's "Saturday Story" (Oct. 3) on the L.A. Times Valley Edition:

Long after we both left Times Mirror, Otis Chandler and I were puzzled why the suburban editions were shuttered. Readership and advertising revenues had grown to a point where the suburban and zoned editions had excellent pretax operating profits. They provided strong local news to local areas. They provided advertisers that could not afford full run a targeted circulation area with terrific sales results. Of this we were certain, Bob Rawitch and his Valley edition news staff were splendid. That was true of all the advertising, operations, circulation, and news staffs in the zoned and suburban editions. It is very painful to look back at so many of the significant mistakes that weakened a magnificent newspaper.

--Tom Johnson

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Few Words From Clark Kent

The New Yorker Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Newspapers: Pretty Chart, Bad News

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News Design Workshop Begins in Argentina

The Society for News Design is meeting in Buenos Aires this year. Click HERE to follow all the presentations and speeches. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is Social Media Just a Fad?

h/t to Ed Padgett Sphere: Related Content

Friday, September 18, 2009

When Newspapers Mattered

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Keep F*&%$@ That Chicken

A veteran New York City news anchor flubs a line and an obscene catch phrase goes viral on the Internet.

Ernie Anastos of Fox affiliate WNYW was bantering with the weatherman Wednesday night when he cheerfully dropped an F-bomb on the air. What he likely intended to say was, "Keep plucking that chicken."

Anastos didn't appear to recognize the error, though co-anchor Dari Alexander's eyes bugged out after he said it.

Just before the flub, Anastos told weatherman Nick Gregory, "It takes a tough man to make a tender forecast," a play on an old chicken commercial.

Videos of the mistake circulated widely online Thursday, as the phrase took on a life of its own.

Fox isn't laughing, though. The vice president and general manager of WNYW, Lew Leone, said he's "disappointed" in Anastos' comment.

Anastos apologized during Thursday's newscast.

"I misspoke during last night's newscast," he said. "I apologize for my remarks to anyone who may have been offended."

Anastos, an Emmy-winning anchor, has been a mainstay on New York's evening news for more than three decades.

Another longtime New York anchor, Sue Simmons, last year inadvertently cursed as she did a teaser for WNBC's newscast and the wrong footage was being shown. She also gave an on-air apology. --Associated Press Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Will OC Register Move From Santa Ana
to Times OC Building in Costa Mesa?

Is a "for sale" sign coming to the Orange County Register's Santa Ana complex?
Not that long ago, the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times were embroiled in a bitter circulation battle that resulted in huge resources being pumped into this region, competing "hyper-local" community papers popping up like weeds and both papers reaping the spoils of some of the highest advertising rates in the country.

My, how times have changed. With the daily print newspaper industry in major retreat mode, the Times has left only a skeleton crew at its Orange County headquarters on Sunflower Avenue in Costa Mesa. While owner Sam Zell has yet to carry through with a previously revealed desire to snatch up the Register--which just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week--the Times will soon be distributing the Register and they already jointly produce a weekly advertising supplement. [Click for MORE]

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Sun-Times Gets Offer of $5 Million

A Chicago investor offered $5 million to buy the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, in a deal that could keep the struggling tabloid in business.

Jim Tyree, chairman and chief executive of investment firm Mesirow Financial, is leading a group that pledged the sum for Sun-Times Media Group Inc. in a bankruptcy auction. Mr. Tyree's group will be the "stalking horse," or lead, bidder as the company solicits other offers. It valued its assets at $310 million as of Dec. 31.

Tyree also agreed to assume about $20 million in liabilities, Sun-Times Media Group said Tuesday. A bankruptcy court must approve the terms and outcome of the auction. [Click for MORE]

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hey Tampa, She Wants Her 75 Bucks

Are times so tough at the Media General's Tampa Tribune newspaper that they can rip off a freelance journalist?

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Flames Threaten Communications Towers
on Mt. Wilson in Los Angeles

ABC7's transmitter on Mount Wilson is being threatened by the Station Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest. If you receive ABC7 by cable or satellite, you should experience no disruption. If you receive ABC7 by off air antenna, you could lose our ABC7 signal. You will still be able to see Eyewitness News in its regular time slots and breaking news anytime streaming live on
The Station Fire is moving toward Mount Wilson and fire officials said they plan to do their best to prevent the massive blaze from destroying the 20-plus television transmission towers located there.

Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mark Savage said a strike team and engines were in place and air tankers had laid down fire retardant on the mountain directly in front of the “huge communication location.”

“It's not a matter of if it impacts Mt. Wilson, it's a matter of when,” he said. “Unfortunately today it was so smoky that our tankers couldn't work anywhere near that area."

As of 5: 30 p.m. the fire was “just a couple fo hours away from Mt. Wilson,” Savage said.

“We've done a lot of work to slow the flames down, but some are predicting up to 300-foot flame lengths.”

The Mt. Wilson observatory was evacuated Saturday, leaving the historic and scientifically important facility in the hands of firefighters.

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Freedom, OC Register, Plan to File For Chapter 11

Freedom Communications Inc., the owner of the Orange County Register, is expected to declare bankruptcy this week, according to people familiar with the situation, the latest in a string of Chapter 11 filings in the battered newspaper business.

The company, majority owned for more than 70 years by the Hoiles family, has reached agreements with its lenders to restructure its debts, according to these people.

With annual revenue of about $700 million, Freedom owns the Register and more than 30 other daily papers and eight TV stations. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- a popular measurement for leveraged companies -- have declined about 75% over the past five years to about $50 million. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tribune Bondholders Fault Zell Takeover

Disgruntled Tribune Co. bondholders have asked a U.S. bankruptcy judge to let them investigate Sam Zell's 2007 buyout of the newspaper-and-television chain in an effort to derail a plan that would hand the company over to its banks.

The filing, made late Wednesday, calls the $8.2 billion transaction a "fraudulent conveyance" that left Tribune insolvent from the onset of the 2007 deal. It accuses senior lenders led by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. of completing a leveraged buyout they should have known would push the company into bankruptcy.

"Fraudulent conveyance" is a legal term most often used in bankruptcy court, in which creditors allege a company has used assets in a way unfair to creditors. In the context of leveraged buyouts, creditors can argue a deal loaded up a company with too much debt, leaving it undercapitalized and unable to meet future obligations. [Click for MORE]

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Miami Herald to Join with Weeklies,
Online Start-Ups in Hyper-Local Project

"What's missing from most of the national efforts, though, are the basic ingredients of hometown journalism: reporters, editors, reader contributions, local ads and information -- and this will be the focus of our project." [Click for MORE]
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Who Gets to Grow Up to Be Citizen Kane?

Simon Dumenco of AdAge writes:

I've been thinking about the life cycle of media moguls -- and the future of the very idea of the media mogul -- given all the recent rumors surrounding relative spring chicken Sam Zell, chief of the Tribune Co., the newspaper and broadcasting conglomerate. Just 67 and still invariably described as a "motorcycle-riding billionaire," Zell, having massively botched his attempt at media moguldom since taking control of Tribune in 2007, is said to be on his way out. Either forced out by creditors (if you believe the Chicago Sun-Times) or reduced to simply abandoning the wreckage of his failed investment (if you believe Murdoch's New York Post).

The big man walks away a small man -- diminished in the eyes of history. He could have shuffled off this mortal coil with his legend as a real-estate genius intact, but instead he'll mostly be remembered for helping to drive the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and his other papers more quickly into the ground. Surely he'll be the last big man to try to become even bigger through media moguldom. [Click for MORE]

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Reader's Digest Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Reader's Digest Association Inc., publisher of the iconic general interest magazine that began gracing American homes in 1922, on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it faces falling print circulation in the Internet age and looming debt payments.

Known for its heartwarming stories about American life as other publications moved toward edgier fare, the company's flagship Reader's Digest magazine has seen its U.S. circulation drop from a peek of more than 17 million in the 1970s to just above 8 million last year.

Magnifying the publishing world's woes is an advertising slump that already has led to the closing of several high-profile magazines, including Conde Nast's Portfolio, Domino and Blender. [Click for MORE]

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Faked Photographs: Look, and Then Look Again

Life magazine removed a post from behind kneeling Mary Vecchio's head in John Filo's Pulitzer-winning Kent State photo.

What a marvel the first photographic images must have been to their early-19th-century viewers — the crisp, unassailable reality of scenes and events, unfiltered by an artist’s paintbrush or point of view.

And what an opportunity for manipulation. It didn’t take long for schemers to discover that with a little skill and imagination, photographic realism could be used to create manufactured realities. [Click for MORE]
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The New-Media Crisis of 1949

Milton Berle on NBC's "Texaco Star Theater"

The digital apocalypse continues to blight the lives of television producers, music-industry executives and newspaper publishers, all of whom are scrambling to figure out how to reconfigure their business models in such a way as to allow them to make an honest buck. They're trying to second-guess the ­future—so why not look back at the past? Today's new-media revolution, after all, is not the first time that technological change has laid waste to the best-laid plans of the old media. The same thing was happening 60 years ago. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Way Things Were

From The Daily Pulp by Bob Norman:

Above is a photograph taken in 2003 of the giant Miami Herald staff at the time. It looks like a small city. And it's probably been cut in half during the past couple of years.

The photo was taken in honor of the newspaper's 100th anniversary, an occasion that was marked with an extensive and illuminating special section (actually, there were two of them). The kicker is that the Herald probably didn't hit the century mark that year. So it's probably safe to say that the equivalent of everyone past that third palm tree on the right has vanished. The purists at the newspaper said that the 100-year mark wouldn't be hit until 2010 (in part because the newspaper celebrated its 80th anniversary in 1990 -- yeah, do the math). Forgetting that minor snag, the mainbar story was written by Martin Merzer, one of the downsized reporters. Some notable contributors included Dave Barry, Edna Buchanan, and the late, great Gene Miller, who wrote a fine piece about the history of the newspaper and newsroom along with the best corrections ever published by the paper.

Ironically: The anniversary issue had the date wrong. The date was listed as 2002 instead of 2003. But really, what difference does a year make?

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Tribune Finalizes $845 Million Sale
of Cubs, Wrigley Field, 25% Stake in SportsNet

Tribune Co. made it official Friday, announcing an $800 million deal to sell the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25% stake in Comcast SportsNet to the Ricketts family.

Tribune will retain a 5% stake in the assets, as expected, which means the overall transaction is valued at about $845 million, Tribune said. [Click for MORE]

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Zell's ESOP Fable

Tribune Employees Are Shortchanged

Tribune's short-lived experiment with employee ownership is coming to an end.

While Tribune is still navigating the bankruptcy process, the creditors are unlikely to keep the employee stock ownership plan, leaving workers with worthless shares, a source involved in the negotiations said.

In 2007, real-estate tycoon Sam Zell used the stock plan, called an ESOP, to gain tax benefits on the $8.2 billion buyout of the struggling company.

The plan made employees official owners with 100 percent of the equity, but they have no say over management or the board. In the bankruptcy, they are viewed as common shareholders with less claim than other creditors. [Click for MORE]

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CBS Ad Puts Video Inside a Magazine

Video is invading a new medium: print.

In a marketing stunt to promote its fall TV series, CBS Corp. is inserting thousands of tiny screens in copies of the Time Warner Inc. publication Entertainment Weekly.

The screens measure two and a quarter inches diagonally and play about 40 minutes of clips from new and old CBS shows.

The video begins with a cheeky intro to the "video-in-print" technology, starring characters from the show "The Big Bang Theory."

After that, the reader/viewer can push a spot on the cardboard insert that holds the screen and watch a clip of the sitcom "Two and a Half Men." Push another to see a preview of the new crime-investigation spinoff "NCIS: Los Angeles." Another delivers an ad for PepsiCo Inc., which is helping fund the promotion. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

The Journalism Shop Sells
Freelancers' Skills Inside, Outside Newsrooms

The Journalism Shop is a network of former Los Angeles Times staffers seeking work both in and out of journalism.

It's the "out of journalism" aspect that strikes as the most interesting dimension of The Journalism Shop. The two dozen journalists featured on the site list years and years of journalism credentials. But they also list the kind of skills that extend beyond the realm of storytelling.

And that's posing a bit of a problem for the site. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Operating Management Will Stay With TribCo

Responding to recent media reports he called "inaccurate," a top Tribune Co. executive sent a note to the company's employees Thursday saying that Tribune Co.'s current "operating management" intends to stay at the company following the Chicago media conglomerate's emergence from bankruptcy court.

Randy Michaels, Tribune's chief operating officer, also termed "absurd" suggestions in the reports that the company might be liquidated as part of its Chapter 11 plan of reorganization. [Click for MORE]
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Behind That Beer Photo

This was taken in the 1959 World Series in Chicago, when a fan accidentally knocked his glass of beer into the face of White Sox left fielder Al Smith making a vain attempt to catch a home run sailing over the wall. The photo gained worldwide attention, but there are two back stories to the picture that still are not widely known.

The photographer was Ray Gora, one of a legendary group of "shooters" assigned to the Tribune sports department in an era when cameras were expensive and sports photography actually took knowledge of the games. In an interview not long before he died a few years ago, Ray, always a class act, told retold his tale emphasizing a couple of key points. [Click for MORE]

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TV News Pioneer Don Hewitt Dead at 86.

Don Hewitt, who changed the course of broadcast news by creating the television magazine "60 Minutes," fusing journalism and show business as never before, and who then presided over the much-copied program for nearly four decades, died Wednesday at his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y. He was 86. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Zell Gives Up

Report: Ready to leave TribCo.

The New York Post is reporting that Zell is "ready to walk away" from the Tribune Company, ending one of the most inglorious chapters of newspaper ownership in Chicago history.

And just to make sure Zell has gotten the message from angry creditors already reportedly organizing a putsch, those lenders have now asked a bankruptcy court for permission to investigate Zell's kinky and controversial $8.2 billion takeover of the media giant,according to the Sun-Times. [Click for MORE]

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Bakersfield Californian Goes Tabloid

One of the last family-owned daily newspapers in the state, the Bakersfield Californian, unveiled a new look on Monday – going to a tabloid format five days a week.

It says it will retain the traditional “broadsheet” format for its Saturday and Sunday editions. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Bill Schorr Returns to Editorial Cartooning

After one of the briefest retirements on record, Bill Schorr has returned to editorial cartooning. Daryl Cagle, whose syndicate, Cagle Cartoons, Inc., will now carry Schorr's work, made the announcement on his blog Monday.

"We're very excited," Cagle told E&P Online. "He's a star. I read him as a kid growing up in L.A., and we're delighted to have him." [Click for MORE]

NOTE: Bill Schorr was the last great cartoonist at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zell May Give Up Claim to Buy Tribune Stake

Steve Greenberg via LA Observed

Tribune Co. chief executive Sam Zell is close to giving up his claims to buy a 40 percent stake in the company, the New York Post said, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Zell looks ready to give up a warrant, which he negotiated as part of his $8.2 billion deal to take the company private in 2007, according to the paper.

The warrant gives Zell the right to buy about 40 percent of the company for $500 million and is the basis of his control over Tribune Co, the paper said. [Click for MORE]

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Monday, August 17, 2009

New TV Spot

H/T: Ed Padgett Sphere: Related Content

Tribune Co. Creditors Seek Special Counsel
to Probe Buyout, Could Sue to Recover Money

Tribune Co. creditors have asked the bankruptcy court for permission to hire special counsel to further investigate the $8.2 billion leveraged buyout of the Chicago-based media company engineered by real estate magnate Sam Zell.

The inquiry is common practice when a bankruptcy follows closely on the heels of an LBO, said bankruptcy experts. Zell closed the transaction that took Tribune Co. private in December 2007. The new debt obligations were too big a burden amid rapidly declining advertising revenues, sending the company, parent of the Chicago Tribune, into bankruptcy in December 2008.

Creditors have not filed a lawsuit seeking to recover money against parties that were involved in the going-private transaction, which established an employee stock ownership plan to become majority owner of the company. But the court filing on Thursday signaled that they are considering pursuing litigation, said Chicago-based restructuring expert Bill Brandt. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Textbook Bad Manager Gets Ready to Go

From Workforce Management:

[Sam] Zell is the foul-mouthed CEO of Tribune Co., the big media company that owns not only television and radio stations but also big newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun. He was in over his head from the moment he cut the deal to take control of Tribune, and his over-the-top hubris, chronic arrogance and terribly shortsighted decision-making (by both Zell and his management minions) have helped push Tribune into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It’s a bad management trifecta that led me to award Zell with the 2009 Workforce Management Stupidus Maximus Award, given annually to the “most ignorant, shortsighted and dumb workforce management practice of the year.”

Well, we may be starting to see the end of Sam Zell, at least as the guy controlling Tribune. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that “Sam Zell’s days as a media titan in Chicago are nearly over. … Eight months after [Tribune’s bankruptcy] filing, two sources familiar with the process said creditors are working on a reorganization plan that elbows Zell aside. The creditors, including investment banks owed $8.6 billion from Zell’s Tribune takeover, would stage a takeover of their own and sell off the company’s newspapers and broadcast stations as they see fit.” [Click for MORE]

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Zell Headed Out?


Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Tribune Co. creditors apparently have had enough of CEO Sam Zell and are working on a reorganization plan that would essentially break up the company and get him out. Story lacks detail and the process is still ongoing, but there have been rumblings in recent weeks that the creditors want out. Before they can file a reorganization plan, however, the company must be given a chance to submit its own plan. A bankruptcy judge has given Tribune until Nov. 30 to do so.
William Brandt Jr., a corporate turnaround expert not involved in the case, said enough time has passed so that creditors and the debtor want to cut losses and save face. He said an honorable exit is especially important to Zell, who might need investment banking help for future deals.


Still, Tribune financial reports filed with the bankruptcy court show recent improvement. The company's cash on hand rose to $740.5 million as of June 28, up from $702 million in late May. It reported profitable operations in June aside from debt obligations, but for the period from Dec. 8, 2008 to June 28 it said it lost $836.5 million. The numbers don't include units such as the Cubs, which were left out of the bankruptcy filing.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What’s a Big City Without a Newspaper?

Bruce Gilden/Magnum, for The New York Times

LAST STAND? A newspaper kiosk on Broad Street.

By Michael Sokolove

The New York Times

On a recent trip into Philadelphia, after I exited the Interstate and coasted to a stop at the first traffic light, a man walked up to my car. He wore a black apron with a change pouch and held aloft a copy of The Philadelphia Daily News, the city’s tart, irreverent tabloid. It gave me a warm feeling. Of course it did! I’m a newspaper guy. I worked as a reporter for The Daily News in the 1980s, and later for what we called “big sister,” the sober, broadsheet Philadelphia Inquirer. Even in better times, I would have been happy to see the product being hawked, but these days any small sign of life in the newspaper industry, even just the sight of someone reading a paper, feels positively uplifting. I handed over 75 cents for my Daily News, then drove on toward the center of the city — and U.S. Bankruptcy Court, where a hearing was soon to begin, part of an ongoing process that will determine the fate of the city’s newspapers. [Click for MORE]

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Former LA Times Staffers Launch

Here's Brett Levy at World HQ in Scottsdsale, AZ, about to type the last bit of critical code before unleashing a great net innovation on the planet. Will it be for good or evil?

Here's what he says in his blog:

Three weeks ago, I was asked if I could build a website for former Los Angeles Times journalists wishing to sell their services on a freelance basis. Today, we launched TheJournalismShop.

While we’re still working out some kinks – we’re not happy with the logo and may have a domain issue – the site is fully functional and easy to use. Say you need a former reporter with health reporting skills. Simply navigate to the Reporting page and then scan the bios. If that journalist seems to fit the bill, click on More Info. There, you will find a full resume and means to contact the journalist.

If you could do me the favor of clicking around the site a bit, that would be fantastic. Also, if you have a blog, linking to TheJournalismShop would also be of great help.

By the way, you can find me in the Projects, PR/Marketing and Design/Editing categories.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Yahoo to Launch New Homepage
Months Ahead of Schedule

Yahoo Inc. is expected to launch its new homepage Tuesday, months earlier than previously planned, according to people briefed on the company's plans.

Yahoo's overhaul of its flagship site, originally scheduled for this fall, has been one of its biggest undertakings over the past year. The project, known internally as "Metro," was kicked off under Yahoo's former chief executive, Jerry Yang, as a way to let users customize the site with links to other Internet services with which Yahoo has been continually competing for users' attention.

The biggest change in the new design is a left-hand menu users can customize with links to dozens of potential third-party software developers may seek to build, such as micro-blogging service Twitter, for example, and Google Inc.'s Gmail, said the people briefed on the plans. Yahoo will pre-populate the menu with some applications and recommend other ones users should add based on their browsing behavior, these people said; news and headlines still run down the middle of the site, which has a slightly cleaner look than the current homepage, they said. [Click for MORE]

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michael Jackson's Ghost on Larry King

So, this is what passes for journalism these days?

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