Financial Times — Pinker and prouder than previous

It’s not every day that we can work in obscure Nick Lowe album titles into our blog headlines, so it’s particularly gratifying when pop music trivia finds a golden opportunity for use after sitting around in our heads for years.

The news today is that the Financial Times, perhaps the world’s most famous pink paper, is overhauling its website starting Tuesday. It says new features will appear over the next six months.

Here is the top of the press release, and below you can see a shot of what the page will look like:

The Financial Times today announced that the roll out of a redesign of will begin on Tuesday November 11 with the addition of five new-look homepages, including a Middle East edition page. This follows the successful launch last week of FT Alphaville’s Long Room and record traffic on driven by an increased demand for accurate, independent and authoritative news and analysis on global businesses and politics.

The reaction among folks in the blogosphere seems fairly positive. Silicon Alley Insider’s Nicholas Carlson had this to say about the disappearing distinctions in the 21st century between old and new media:

WSJ=Way Smarter Journalists

News Corp is realizing synergies, cross-promoting among its brands. Here’s the latest announcement:

NEW YORK (Nov. 10, 2008) – HarperCollins Publishers and The Wall Street Journal today announced the formation of a three-year publishing partnership to develop books written by the Journal’s expert editors and reporters across a variety of topics for a wide range of readers. Both HarperCollins and Dow Jones & Company, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, are owned by News Corp. The program will be overseen by Steve Ross, group president of the Collins Group, a division of Harper Collins, and Alan Murray, deputy managing editor at The Wall Street Journal, in conjunction with the Publishers and editorial teams from the Collins, Collins Business, Collins Living and Collins Design imprints.

That’s all fine, if a bit humdrum. You have to dig down past the usual canned quotes in the press release to get to the good stuff, which as always emanates from the pen of Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Robert Thomson:

Dragging and dropping with MySpace

At MySpace, change is a gradual affair. News Corp’s online social network on Monday is introducing Profile 2.0, which it calls the “next step in iterative global site redesign, enabling millions of users to opt-in and customize the appearance of their profiles using an innovative new drag-and-drop user interface.”

I’ve spent the last 13 years working on getting my PhD in translating tech PR to English, but I’m not quite fluent yet. Loosely rendered, this means that it will get easier for MySpace members to change the way their profiles look by moving various parts around their computer screens.

Here’s what else they’re doing with Profile 2.0: People can display different kinds of information to different categories. That could mean that you share your weekend bong-and-bender photos with your extracurricular pals while saving the work information for prospective employers to see (unless you’re going to work at one of those places that counts hard-partying social activity as a prerequisite).

When the going gets tough, newspapers clam up

The American Press Institute is gathering its newspaper nabobs to discuss ways to save their business. If you’re like this media reporter, you’d be interested in hearing what folks have to say when the conference happens. But you can’t; it’s closed to press.

Here’s Editor & Publisher:

The American Press Institute (API) will host an invitation-only, closed-door “summit conference” Nov. 13 in which 50 CEO-level executives will ponder ways to revive the newspaper business.

The one-day conference at API’s Reston, Va., headquarters will be “a facilitated discussion of concrete steps the industry can take to reverse its declines in revenue, profit and shareholder value.”

Obama: Good for newspapers — today

NEW YORK – In the same way that the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series win boosted Inquirer and Daily News sales last week, U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama is jumping in to help papers across the country survive.

People across the country flocked to convenience stores and newsstands snatch up copies of their local papers, which ultimately will prove the most enduring mementos commemorating the election of the first black president of the United States. It’s not a long-term game changer, considering that you can’t hold an historic presidential election every day, but it’s a nice sweetener for a bitter industry story.

Here’s just one example of how the day is shaping up: The New York Times is printing an extra 50,000 copies of today’s paper for the local market after completely selling out, according to spokeswoman Catherine Mathis. (See the Romenesko journalism blog for more details about heavy press runs at other U.S. newspapers.)

Wolff opines on Murdoch… again

Can you tell it’s book-flacking time?

Vanity Fair is running the second excerpt from the forthcoming book that Michael Wolff wrote about News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch (this one centers on his family), and Wolff is making the rounds this week to talk about it. He was on CNBC moments ago, engaging in everyone’s favorite media parlor game: Parsing Murdoch’s every move like a multi-clause sentence. Friday’s appearance follows a panel discussion at a conference earlier this week where he made similar remarks. Here’s what he said on CNBC.

What will Murdoch do after buying The Wall Street Journal? What’s his next move?

“I’m not sure that he exactly knows. One of the problems here is that he bought a newspaper and not only did he buy a newspaper, but if he had only waited six months to buy that newspaper he would have saved a billion and a half dollars.” (Nothing like hindsight, is there?)

This phone is your phone, this phone is iPhone

That’s obviously what Woody Guthrie would have written had he been a more contemporary singer (Speaking of which, where’s our 2008 Woody Guthrie? Isn’t it depression time again?)

We thought of that headline after receiving this press release from comScore:

While 43 percent of iPhone owners earn in excess of $100,000 annually, the strongest growth in users is coming from those earning less than the median household income, particularly since the launch of the iPhone 3G. According to a new comScore report, “All about iPhone,” iPhone adoption since June 2008 rose 48 percent among those earning between $25,000 and $50,000 per year and by 46 percent among those earning between $25,000 and $75,000. These growth rates are three times that of those earning more than $100,000 per year. Overall, iPhone penetration grew 21 percent.

“As an additional household budget item, a $200 device plus at least $70 per month for phone service seems a bit extravagant for those with lower disposable income,” said Jen Wu, senior analyst, comScore, the report’s author. “However, one actually realizes cost savings when the device is used in lieu of multiple digital devices and services, transforming the iPhone from a luxury item to a practical communication and entertainment tool.”

Phillies help hometown papers SELL OUT!

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News are two papers that have suffered persistent misery in recent years as former owner Knight Ridder couldn’t stop their ad revenue and circulation declines. Things haven’t gotten much better… until the Phillies won Major League Baseball’s World Series Wednesday night — the first time that has happened in 28 years.

Now? They can’t print enough. Here’s the press release:

PHILADELPHIA, October 30, 2008 – In response to the Phillies World Series win last night, Philadelphia Media Holdings Chief Executive Officer Brian Tierney announced this morning that last night’s over-run of almost 350,000 copies of The Inquirer and Daily News are completely sold out. And, in an unprecedented move, the printing presses are running again this morning so that an additional 350,000 copies can be printed and available by early afternoon today.

“People are buying these souvenir editions of The Inquirer and Daily News in massive quantities and we are responding by firing up our printing presses for another run this morning,” said Mr. Tierney. “We have not restarted the presses like this in decades but we want to be sure that every fan who wants a copy of our newspapers can buy one.”

If Wasserstein could turn back Time (Warner)…

Bruce Wasserstein, chief executive of private equity firm Lazard, joined Blackstone co-founder Steve Schwarzman at a breakfast sponsored by Fortune magazine this morning to share their collective wisdom regarding the financial crisis. (For more on the breakfast, see our DealZone blog).

At the end of the Q&A session, he got one of those out-of-the-blue questions from editor and moderator Andy Serwer: If he could do it all over again, would he still have hooked up with Carl Icahn on the activist investor’s quest to shake up Time Warner Inc?

It sounded like he would. He told guests at the breakfast that he was proud of the report that he and Icahn prepared about the state of the media conglomerate, which contained a bunch of recommendations for how it could improve — including mounting a bigger push into the digital age.

Google redefines time (From the UAL files)

Here’s something funny that I found at the bottom of a Google News search results page the other day:

The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program. The time or date displayed reflects when an article was added to Google News.

That sounds like another way of saying that the time and date the story showed up there do not necessarily match the time and date that the story was first published.