MediaFile

from Reuters Investigates:

Mongolia’s El Dorado stirs shareholder battle

friedlandIn Mongolia's South Gobi desert lies Oyu Tolgoi, touted as having the world's largest untapped copper and gold deposits. Little wonder then that this "El Dorado" has become a boardroom battleground between the relatively unknown Ivanhoe Mines and its biggest shareholder, the giant Australian mining company, Rio Tinto.  

Our attempts to get near this mine or elicit any comment from Ivanhoe were about as fruitless as the Spanish conquistadors attempts to find the legendary "El Dorado", or "Lost City of Gold" in the 16th century. Twice Ivanhoe stopped our reporters from visiting the mine with delegations from the investment community, saying reporters were not  allowed to mingle with bankers on visits to the mine. We don't know why that would be. We mingle with them pretty often in other contexts and usually find each other's company amusing and mutually informative.

Perhaps that's the point of Ivanhoe's policy. The company and its executive chairman, Robert Friedland, do not seem to trust the media much. They maintain a robust website,   http://www.ivanhoemines.com/s/The_Facts.asp., that pretty much takes issue with every story written about them. Friedland is legendary in the business for spinning a story and trying to control the narrative.

Friedland has lived a colourful and adventurous life. Perhaps he admired in his youth the swashbuckling medieval hero of Sir Walter Scott's novel, Ivanhoe, a noble in the disguise of the "black knight" who fights alongside Robin Hood, and so named his company after him. 

Friedland has had a Midas touch when it comes to monetising mining assets over the years in a business where exploration is fraught with risk. In that sense. he calls to mind the original El Dorado, or "Golden One". This was the name given to the kings of the Muisica tribe in what is now Colombia, when they were undergoing an initiation rite for taking the throne: they covered themselves in gold dust before diving into lake Guatavita. 

The end of the story…

……is the cash cow for Chinese company Shanda Literature Ltd, a
subsidiary of Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

The company’s business model is simple: read the first half
of a book online for free, and if you want to know the rest
(which usually is the case if you have read that far) you need
to pay for it. Revenues are split with the stories’ authors.

In China, this proves to be successful. According to Shanda
Literature CEO Hou Xiaoqing, the company now has cash reserves
of $1.8 billion, with 800,000 authors creating up to 80,000 new
pages of content per day, he said at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

U.S. business magazines face a shakeout (Reuters)
Robert MacMillan writes: “Business news publishers rubbed their hands in glee when the financial crisis grabbed headlines last fall, saying the meltdown would deliver a windfall blown in by widespread interest in their stories. It did not turn out that way. Appetite for news does not always translate into revenue, especially at a time when blogs, wire services such as Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters and other outlets crowd into news analysis territory that the big magazines had long claimed.”

McClatchy quarterly profit rises on cost cuts (Reuters)
“U.S. newspaper publisher McClatchy Co reported higher quarterly income on Tuesday because of cost cuts, pushing shares up as much as 67 percent, even as advertising revenue fell by nearly a third. McClatchy, publisher of The Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee, also said it reduced the amount of debt that it owes and sought to reassure investors that it will not violate the terms of its lending agreements,” reports Robert MacMillan.

Economist Group Buys Congressional Quarterly (WSJ)
Kevin Kingsbury writes: “The deal, terms of which weren’t disclosed, will create a new company called CQ-Roll Call Group. Roll Call is owned by the Economist Group, the London-based publisher of its namesake magazine. Roll Call is buying Congressional Quarterly from Times Publishing Co., whose primary operations is the St. Petersburg Times and related assets.”

Wednesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Recession sends Americans to the Internet (Reuters)
S. John Tilak writes: “More than two-thirds of American adults — or 88 percent of U.S. Internet users — went online for help with recession-induced personal economic issues and to gather information on national economic problems, a study released on Wednesday said.”

BBC and Government Fall Out Over Financing Plan (NYT)
“The BBC and Britain’s Labour government, which has a history of support for the “Beeb,” have fallen out over a government plan to share some of the broadcaster’s £3.6 billion in public funding with its commercial television rivals,” writes Eric Pfanner.
Weisberg: Big news orgs have a stake in web-only papers not working (Economist.com|Romenesko) “Web advertising may well end up supporting big newsrooms if they can escape some of their legacy costs,” says Slate’s Jacob Weisberg. “The test I’d most like to see is of a well-financed, for-profit, web-only ‘newspaper’ with no printed version. The problem is that the leading news organizations have a stake in web-only newspapers not working because they will accelerate the decline of the large, if faltering businesses that revolve around print.”

USA Today introduces Newsdeck site for top headlines (Editors Weblogs)
“To give visitors another way to view the news, USA Today has introduced a site it calls Newsdeck that compiles the top headlines in an easy-to-read format. Users can scroll through stories in eight categories, including News, Money and Sports, with the ability to switch back and forth between the latest news and the most popular articles.,” writes Liz Webber.

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

Verizon Planning Its Own App Store (Business Insider)
Preethi Dumpala writes: “The main idea: Verizon wants to be the company connecting its customers with apps — not necessarily its handset partners. And it wants to avoid becoming an even dumber pipe. Depending on how it’s set up, this could clash with gadget makers’ plans.”

McGraw-Hill might ‘give away’ Business Week for nominal $1 (FT)
“McGraw-Hill might reap only a nominal $1 by selling Business Week, according to people familiar with the 80-year-old financial magazine’s record of losses. The publisher has appointed Evercore, a boutique investment bank, to sell the title after deciding it was non-core to a group that owns the Standard & Poor’s rating agency and an educational publisher, two people familiar with the decision said,” writes Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.

Sinclair says it might consider bankruptcy (Baltimore Sun)
“The Hunt Valley-based owner of television stations, which depends heavily on automotive advertisers for revenue, said it might be obligated to pay $488.5 million of its total outstanding debt within the next 18 months. The company said it had $1.3 billion in total debt outstanding as of March 31,” writes Lorraine Mirabella.

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

Microsoft takes on Google as Office moves to Web (Reuters)
Jim Finkle reports: “Microsoft will offer for free to consumers Web-based versions of its Office suite of programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and a note-taking program. Microsoft will also host one Internet business version of Office at its own data centers, charging companies a yet-to- be-announced fee.”

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Windows 7 (Reuters)
“Many of the more than 1,000 companies that responded to a survey by ScriptLogic Corp say they have economized by cutting back on software updates and lack the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest offering.”

MySpace to Take Entertainment Tack (WSJ)
“In a brief interview, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said MySpace needs to be refocused ‘as an entertainment portal.’ Mr. Murdoch described his vision for MySpace as a place where ‘people are looking for common interests,’” writes Julia Angwin.

Friday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

TV Networks Fight Drug-Ad Measure (WSJ)
“Advertising costs are deductible to any company as a business expense. The plan being considered by Rep. Rangel’s Ways and Means committee would eliminate the deduction with respect to prescription drug advertising,” writes Martin Vaughan.

Big media seek 21st century business models (Reuters)
“Media moguls at this week’s Sun Valley conference have spent as much time discussing how to reconfigure business models disrupted by the Web as they have worrying about the weak economy,” reports Yinka Adegoke.

Zucker Says Marketplace Has Reached Bottom (B&C)
Ben Grossman writes: “NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker said Thursday that while the overall marketplace is still challenged, he thinks it may have bottomed out. ‘It’s still quite uncertain and we don’t really see the full recovery we are all hoping for,’ he said.  ’It’s still tough out there, but I think we have seen a bottom.’”

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Amazon Patents Detail Kindle Advertising Model (Mediapost)
Laurie Sullivan writes: “The patents clearly note that Amazon would insert advertisements throughout the ebooks, from the beginning to the end, between chapters or following every 10 pages, as well as in the margins.”

> In-Book Ads Coming to the Amazon Kindle? (Fast Company)
> 6 Reasons Why Ads On The Kindle Don’t Work (Business Insider)

Deadline for Globe bids postponed (Boston Globe)
“The New York Times Co. has postponed tomorrow’s deadline for prospective buyers of The Boston Globe to submit preliminary bids for the newspaper, people briefed on the sales process said. No new date has been set for the bids,” writes Robert Weisman.

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories on the media industry:

‘Tonight Show’ Audience a Decade Younger (NYT)
“In Mr. O’Brien’s first month as host, the median age of “Tonight Show” viewers has fallen by a decade — to 45 from 55, a startling shift in such a short time. This audience composition means advertisers can now address almost exclusively young viewers on “Tonight,” and NBC is already contemplating a shift in how it sells the show,” writes Bill Carter.

Springer’s daily Welt dreams of going international – again (Reuters)

“German publisher Axel Springer plans to launch an international weekly edition of its flagship daily, Die Welt, in a 48-page tabloid format starting February 2010. Springer is still mulling distribution options but the paper will likely be available from airlines,” writes Nicola Leske.

Just the Messenger: Mediaite.com Focuses on Celebrity of Journalism (WP)
On the newly launched website, Howard Kurtz writes: “Mediaite paints with a colorful palette, even if its hues will appeal mainly to journalists and those who obsess over them. By hiring bloggers who worked for Mediabistro and the Huffington Post, Abrams has put together a sassy critique of media missteps and foibles, an overall take not driven mainly by ideology.”

Is your newsroom ready for the future?

On Tuesday, a panel hosted by Reuters and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers discussed the state of the media industry and the challenges it faces from consumers demanding information in new and different ways.

How could the industry transform its newsrooms to thrive in this culture?

Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times said the key discipline was to constantly ask what the reader actually wants and not what is technologically possible. “This is going to be different for everyone,” Freeland told the crowd, which included Thomson Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger.

For the full discussion, watch the video below.

The panel included
Chrystia Freeland, US managing editor, Financial Times

Larry Ingrassia, business editor, The New York Times

Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs & new media professor, Columbia Journalism School