Reuters blog archive
Newspaper advertising is a joke, local TV stations are struggling to get ads of their own, journalists are losing their jobs and media executives are calling 25 percent revenue declines an improvement. It sounds like something might be amiss in the U.S. media world.
But don't take our word for it if you're the Federal Communications Commission, and you're about to revisit media ownership regulations and see if they need some changing. See this item from Inside Radio:
[FCC] Chairman Julius Genachowski hires internet entrepreneur and journalist Steven Waldman to lead an agency-wide initiative assessing the state of media. Waldman will lead a team to conduct what's promised to be an "open, fact-finding process" looking at how the economy is impacting media outlets and make recommendations for policy changes.
Waldman is the co-founder and former editor of the religious website Beliefnet.com, which was bought by News Corp. in 2007. ... Waldman will join the Office of Strategic Planning and serve as senior advisor to the chairman. Genachowski says, "A strong consensus has developed that we're at a pivotal moment in the history of the media and communications, because of game-changing new technologies as well as the economic downturn."
MySpace, the online social network (can we still call it that now that it has ducked out of the Facebook/Twitter competition?), appears to be pursuing what I'll call the "two-pronged news strategy." You get used to it when you cover media and technology. For those of you who don't enjoy this privilege, it goes like this:
Pick a news outlet that you like and whisper things to them about what you're doing. It doesn't have to be interesting, it just has to be exclusive. If you're in public relations, you don't even have to know that someone in your company is doing this. It works well for you.
Let the rest of the press read the story and bombard your telephone and e-mail with messages demanding to know if it's true. Score a big hit on the news cycle. Because you either decline to comment or only want to talk "on background," it heightens the air of mystery -- and newsworthiness.
The official announcement of the news, which will always resemble 90 percent or more of what you read in the first round of anonymously sourced stories, will get just as much attention as that first round. It's a 2-for-1 deal that is irresistible to many companies.
I don't know that MySpace is doing this, and wouldn't be able to confirm it if I asked. It could just be that the reporters who get the breaking news have great sources and the reporter asked smart questions that would yield good answers. I'll let you judge.
It appears to be Music Wednesday on the Internet. On the same day that reports began circulating that Google and Facebook will launch a host of new music features, News Corp's MySpace is turning up the volume on its own music offering.
The online social network will offer the following new features:
You already can buy music on MySpace through Amazon, but now you can also get it through Apple's iTunes.
All music videos will now be available through a "hub" on MySpace Music. This includes music video recommendations based on what your friends are watching, along with a video player with a link to buy the ones you like, and an A-Z browser to find what you're looking for.
An artist's dashboard (pictured in this blog post). This is not something that fans would see. Instead, it is reserved for artists and bands that want to track their popularity among MySpace users. This is one of the more interesting things that we've seen on MySpace. It offers charts, graphs and snapshots of MySpace music data, including where fans are, song plays, profile views, friend count and profile visitors.
MySpace Chief Executive Owen Van Natta says that these moves give the service's users a "more integrated and comprehensive experience -- not just audio in one place and band interaction somewhere else."
The Wall Street Journal, ever on the hunt for new ways to please its readers and new ways to make money (and what, we ask, is wrong with that?), will launch a new, pricier version this November. Called "The Wall Street Journal Professional Edition," it is designed for business readers who want more than what the daily newspaper and website provide on their own.
Essentially, it is the Journal's daily offering, with reports from Dow Jones Newswires and a reservoir of news and information from Factiva, the news archive that Dow Jones owns -- and a bunch more stuff:
Earlier this week I brought you the brewing circulation tussle between USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, and which paper will be able to claim to be the largest one in terms of circulation. You can read that here, but for the recap, here are the main points:
Editor & Publisher reports: USA Today was set to report that circulation fell "17% to 1.88 million for the six months ending September 2009, a drop of about 390,000 copies. The decline could also threaten USA Today's position as the No. 1 newspaper in the country by circulation."
The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press report that the Journal would be the largest paper by circulation, according to the Journal.
USA Today responds, "We are confident that even with this latest economic impact, USA TODAY will remain the nation's number one newspaper in total print circulation when the ABC statements are released October 26th."
As I wrote at the time, it seems that the Journal is counting print and online subscriptions together, and why not? Both are made up of paying subscribers. USA Today, of course, is counting printed newspapers.
Editor & Publisher made the first move on Friday when Jennifer Saba reported that USA Today was set to report that circulation fell "17% to 1.88 million for the six months ending September 2009, a drop of about 390,000 copies. The decline could also threaten USA Today's position as the No. 1 newspaper in the country by circulation." The news came in a memo from USA Today Publisher, David Hunke, to his workers.
Lest anyone doubt the thrust of Rupert Murdoch's speech on Thursday (or was it Friday? I'm losing track of time zones) at the World Media Summit in Beijing, it was all about paying for news -- as in: You're going to pay for news, and if you think it shouldn't cost you anything, you're a "flat-earther" and a "kleptomaniac."
For those of you accustomed to the News Corp CEO's occasional verbal ramblings and hints of ghosts of suggestions, this was a departure. He has gone on the record in great detail about his thoughts regarding paid news, but this is the first time that I recall him using fightin' words like "flat-earther."
Attendees at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York City asked both executives on Tuesday if they were interested in bidding for rights to broadcast the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Both answered the question in ways that sound different until you realize that they actually sound... the same.
Oracle Corp's (ORCL.O) acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. (JAVA.O) could be delayed by up to four months if the European Commission's antitrust authority decide to launch an investigation into the $7.4bn deal. US authorities cleared the sale last week, but the EC is concerned over Oracle gaining ownership of the MySQL database product, sources familiar with the situation tell Reuters.
For this and the rest of the latest deals news from Reuters, click here.
And here's a round-up of other deals news reported in the press on Wednesday:
MySpace is looking to buy Web music service iLike for around $20 million according to several blogs. iLike co-founder Hadi Partovi declined to comment when we asked him and MySpace's PR team also declined to share details.
All Things Digital has the latest details of the deal which they say is around $13.5 million in cash, with a $6 million earn out for the founders which include Hadi's twin brother Ali who is CEO. Official confirmation of an agreement is being held up by "thorny tax issues" according to All Things Digital's sources.