MediaFile

Thursday media highlights

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

New York Times Asks Subscribers: Is It Wrong to Charge for Online Content? (Poynter)
Bill Mitchell writes: “The New York Times is testing a price point of $5 a month for access to nytimes.com, with a 50 percent discount for print subscribers. The Times e-mailed a survey to print subscribers Thursday afternoon inviting their reaction to that pricing plan and asking a range of questions about online pricing.”

Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims (Guardian)
“The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills,” writes Nick Davies.
UK police won’t reopen Murdoch paper phonetap case (Reuters)

A is for abattoir; Z is for ZULU: All in the Handbook of Journalism (Reuters)
Dean Wright writes: “The handbook is the guidance Reuters journalists live by — and we’re proud of it. Until now, it hasn’t been freely available to the public. In the early 1990s, a printed handbook was published and in 2006 the Reuters Foundation published a relatively short PDF online that gave some basic guidance to reporters. But it’s only now that we’re putting the full handbook online.”

As Gannett’s Newspapers Suffer, Digital Side Sees Growth, More Hiring And Acquisitions (paidContent)
“As Gannett continues to be roiled with huge debt problems, an absent CEO, and hundreds more layoffs across its community newspapers, its digital division appears to be a sea of calm. In fact [...] things are going just fine on their respective ends,” writes David Kaplan.

Analyst Admits to Being ‘Dead Wrong’ After Disney’s ‘Up’ Is Big Earner (NYT)
“Dead wrong” is how Richard Greenfield of Pali Research put his related analysis in a research note. “The recent success of Pixar’s ‘Up’ (well ahead of our forecasts) has renewed investor confidence in Disney’s creative capabilities,” he added. “Up” has so far sold $265.9 million in tickets in North America and $35.4 million overseas, where it has only begun to arrive in theaters,” writes Brooks Barnes.

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

Media Wrapup

Here is a selection of the day’s stories about the media industry:

US TV prepares for $2bn ad shortfall (FT)

“Digital video recorders that allow viewers to skip through commercials have knocked confidence in broadcast and cable advertising while younger, tech-savvy audiences are deserting their TV sets to spend more time online,” writes the Financial Times.

Smartphones, social networks to boost mobile advertising (Reuters)

Reuters reports: “As more consumers embrace new technologies and devices such as smartphones, personified by Apple’s iPhone, mobile advertising is seen growing at an annual average of 45 percent to reach $28.8 billion within 5 years from a current $3.1 billion, according to Ineum Consulting.”

Journalism Rules Are Bent in News Coverage From Iran (NYT)

Brian Stelter writes: “In a news vacuum, amateur videos and eyewitness accounts became the de facto source for information. In fact, the symbol of the protests, the image of a young woman named Neda bleeding to death on a Tehran street, was filmed by two people holding camera phones.”

How-to journalism with YouTube

YouTube has launched a new video channel called the Reporters’ Center to teach aspiring citizen journalists everything they need to know, with contributions from Bob Woodward, Katie Couric and a slew of other organizations including Reuters.

The advice ranges from the prosaic (“How to distribute your YouTube video on Facebook,” “How to not sound like an idiot“) to the profound.

“The first rule of reporting is to make sure you get back alive,” the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof tells viewers in “Covering a Global Crisis.” “There’s no point in getting a great interview with a warlord if afterward he kills you and takes your recorder.”

TMZ got the scoop, will it see the money?

Time Warner-owned celebrity news website TMZ may have been first in reporting the death of Michael Jackson, but is all the buzz around the site going to turn into cash?

It’s a question the LA Times asks in this article, pointing out that the Jackson scoop — the biggest in TMZ’s history — comes at a time when the TMZ’s tactics and “tabloid sensibilities” have angered publicists and government officials, made other journalists reluctant to cite TMZ, and even caused advertisers to shy away from putting their messages on the site.

In a piece last Friday, The New York Times’ Brian Stelter pointed out that even though TMZ looks good because it beat all rivals with the Jackson news, the “Jackson family said the time of death was 5:26 p.m. Eastern, several minutes after TMZ’s report, leading some to wonder whether the Web site looked accurate only in hindsight.”

2009 Pulitzer Prizes: Journalism

Here at Columbia journalism school for the 2009 Pulitzer Awards, I and the other reporters have asked administrator Sig Gissler several questions about accepting online-only entries for prizes. (None won this year). There will be more postings on that subject later, but in the meantime, here are the prizes.
(UPDATE: Our wire story, which ran a little while ago, notes the interesting nature of the Pulitzer gang gradually accepting online-only journalism as legitimate. It also notes that the financial crisis, arguably one of the biggest stories in the past year, failed to garner any nods. Not only that, The Wall Street Journal has not won a single Pulitzer since Murdoch bought parent company Dow Jones & Co. And in one final, bitter note: two winners have been laid off since they did the work that won them their prizes, Jeff Bercovici at Portfolio.com reports.)

Pulitzer Prizes 2009 — journalism:

    Public Service:
    Las Vegas Sun — and “notably to the courageous reporting by Alexandra Berzon, for the exposure of the high death rate among construction workers on the Las Vegas Strip amid lax enforcement of regulations, leading to changes in policy and improved safety conditions.” Breaking News Reporting:
    The New York Times – Coverage of the sex scandal that resulted in the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Investigative Reporting:
    The New York Times – “Awarded to David Barstow of The New York Times for his tenacious reporting that revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended.” Explanatory Reporting:
    Los Angeles Times – “Awarded to Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times for their fresh and painstaking exploration into the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat the growing menace of wildfires across the western United States.” Local Reporting:
    Detroit Free Press – “And notably Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick for their uncovering of a pattern of lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that included denial of a sexual relationship with his female chief of staff, prompting an investigation of perjury that eventually led to jail terms for two officials.” Local Reporting:
    East Valley Tribune – “Awarded to Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin… for their adroit use of limited resources to reveal, in print and online, how a popular sheriff’s focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of violent crime and other aspects of public safety.” National Reporting:
    St. Petersburg Times – “For PolitiFact, its fact-checking initiative during the 2008 presidential campaing that used probing reporters and the power of the World Wide Web to examine more than 750 political claims, separating rhetoric from truth to enlighten voters. International Reporting:
    The New York Times staff – “For its masterful groundbreaking coverage of America’s deepening military and political challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, reporting frequently done under perilous conditions.” Feature Writing:
    St. Petersburg Times – “Awarded to Lane DeGregory… for her moving, richly detailed story of a neglected little girl, found in a roach-infested room, unable to talk or feed herself, who was adopted by a new family committed to her nurturing.” Commentary:
    The Washington Post – “Awarded to Eugene Robinson… for his eloquent columns on the 2008 presidential campaign that focused on the election of the first African-American president, showcasing graceful writing and a grasp of the larger historic picture.” Criticism:
    The New York Times – “Awarded to Holland Cotter… for his wide ranging reviews of art, from Manhattan to China, marked by acute observation, luminous writing and dramatic storytelling.” Editorial Writing:
    The Post-Star, Glens Falls, New York – Awarded to “Mark Mahoney… for his relentless, down-to-earth editorials on the perils of local government secrecy, effectively admonishing citizens to uphold their right to know.” Editorial Cartooning:
    The San Diego Union-Tribune – “Awarded to Steve Breen… for his agile use of a classic style to produce wide-ranging cartoons that engage readers with power, clarity and humor.” Breaking News Photography:
    The Miami Herald – “Awarded to Patrick Farrell… for his provocative, impeccably composed images of despair after Hurricane Ike and other lethal storms caused a humanitarian disaster in Haiti.” Feature Photography:
    The New York Times – “Awarded to Damon Winter… for his memorable array of pictures deftly capturing multiple facets of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.”

More work, same pay at New York Post

New York Post newsroom staff are grumbling about a new work rule that essentially pays them the same amount of money, but for more work.

Two sources told MediaFile that Rupert Murdoch’s daily tabloid has told reporters that their work week is now 40 hours long. That’s no big deal to most working stiffs, but that’s a change from the earlier 37-1/2 hours.

The upshot is that overtime pay, which once started as the clock struck 37-1/2, now doesn’t begin until 2-1/2 hours later. As many journalists know, it’s hard to break news on your beat unless you’re willing to put up with stories — and events — that happen at any time and don’t fit well into normal working hours. That said, journalists who don’t like this move say it amounts to a 6 percent pay cut because it’s more work for the same pay.

A new journalism career path: mailroom

I usually believe everything I read in Editor & Publisher, but this one seemed almost too good/horrifying to be true:

When a newspaper cuts its staff, those who remain in the depleted newsroom become valuable. But as The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. slowly says farewell to 151 newsroom folks who took buyouts last month, at least two longtime journalists have been reassigned to the mailroom.

Reporter Jason Jett and Assistant Deputy Photo Editor Mitchell Seidel have been filing, sorting, and delivering mail for more than a week, according to sources.

Newspapers, not out of the ‘wood’ yet

The American Press Institute went through with its plan to bring top U.S. newspaper publishers together in a room this week to figure out how to keep themselves alive despite all the financial evidence showing that hospice care might be their best bet at this point. It also, as we reported before, was closed to press, and none of the 50 executives who went were named. (UPDATE: Thanks to a good friend who supplied me with the list, it appears at the end of the post.)

Here are excerpts from the report. Go to the bottom of this post to read about why we couldn’t go:

The general feel of the conference:
“At times akin to group therapy and at other times resembling a business-school class… (Aren’t these folks business professionals already?)”