MediaFile

from Jack Shafer:

OTUS and the golden age of political reporting

Just what the country needed: Another political Web site.

At the beginning of the week, ABC News launched OTUS, its political news supermarket with its top political reporters (Jake Tapper, Jonathan Karl, Amy Walter, and George Stephanopoulos) hunkering on the site's home page. OTUS threatens to dice, grind, sieve, and aerosol the complex business of campaigns and the affairs of the state into inhalable powder.

As Tapper says in this promo, OTUS (short for of the United States as in, POTUS, president of the United States, or SCOTUS, supreme court of the United States) is all about the "power moves, the mini-dramas, the scheming" in politics. Tapper promises that OTUS will flag both the "urgent and the ridiculous," offer games, display correspondents' Twitter feeds, and create a stock market-style ticker that assesses the rising and falling worth of candidates with social media.

ABC News has expanded its Web efforts at what is obviously a late date. SalonSlateTalking Points MemoYahoo PoliticsPoliticoRealClearPoliticsRed StateHuffington Post PoliticsFiveThirtyEightMother JonesNational Review OnlineDaily BeastDaily CallerRoll CallThe HillCNN Politics, NBC's First Read, Time 's SwamplandNational Journal, specialty sections at the Washington Post, the New York TimesNew York magazine, the Associated PressBloomberg News, and Reuters, as well as numerous other sites already cover the beat, and cover it well.

That ABC News would join the specialists speaks to both the audience's insatiable appetite for political news and the network's confidence that nobody owns this market. It's a good call: Such is the Web audience's fickleness, the ease with which they can skip pages, that nobody can own the market for news anymore. They can't even rent it. News organizations can't own their journalistic stars the way they used to, either. In the old days, the only place for a reporter or editor at a top-tier newspaper or magazine to migrate was another top-tier newspaper or magazine, or maybe a TV network, or maybe a career in books. But not anymore. Reporters now move from the New York Times to the Huffington Post with such regularity that the MTA is thinking of digging a special subway line to accommodate them.

Not to oversell the current scene, but the proliferation of political news sites—and my apologies to those I didn't name—means we're living in a bit of a golden age of political reporting. At least when it comes to national politics and national government, there have never been more reporters competing to break news. Not everything on the menu tastes great, but there's no denying it's a feast.

GlobalMedia-ABC News in talks with Bloomberg

MEDIA-SUMMIT/DISNEYThe news divisions at the big networks have been in a world of hurt lately as advertisers seek out younger consumers and viewers. This has lead to big cutbacks in staffing and resources over the years as the networks strive to keep profit margins from deteroirating even further.

ABC is certainly no expectation and has experienced managment upheaval when ABC News president David Westin announced in September his departure partly due to the financial situation and the pressure to increase profit margins.  

Speculation has persisted that ABC News parent company, Walt Disney, has been seeking to untie itself from the division– rumors that similary dog CBS.

from Summit Notebook:

ABC: Don’t you know that I’m still in love with news?

I asked ABC TV chief Anne Sweeney at our Global Media Summit on Monday whether the nightly news broadcast will go away someday soon. Everyone who follows the broadcast TV business has wondered this at some time or another, particularly as fewer people tune in.

Here's a bit of that conversation, where I got Sweeney to firmly say... not much. If you're in a rush, the general message appears to be:

    News is changing along with the changing times We believe in our news operation Budgets may change (likely for the worse), but news is worth paying for We're more than our evening news broadcast (where Charles Gibson is ceding the anchor slot to Diane Sawyer), but we're not going to say one way or the other whether we'll keep it going. Me: News operation is often a big cost. Some say that evening news is losing its relevance as people get their news elsewhere. Is it possible that ABC would get rid of its evening newscast?

Sweeney: I think world news is not just about 6:30. I think World News is about being ready to provide the news whenever it happens. It's not just limited to that half hour. It's actually on all day. The ABC broadcast day opens, the network day opens with Good Morning America. ...  So we always have the ability to come in with breaking news. ... And then shows like 20/20 provide us with an opportunity to go a bit broader. And then of course there's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, which gives us the Washington beat, which again can appear in the other shows throughout the week. So it's really a manner of managing the assets rather than focusing on (the 6:30 news)