When media reporters attack

I was on a panel on Wednesday to talk about the future of media sponsored by one of my favorite daily reads, I Want Media. The pleasantries lasted for about 20 minutes. Then we ducked to avoid the impromptu firefight between The New York Times’s David Carr and Vanity Fair’s Michael Wolff.

Just a short sample from Wolff: “The New York Times. It’s very likely something really dramatic and potentially terrible and certainly historic is going to happen in a very short period of time. Its business is in substantial trouble.”

At one point, Carr brought an expletive to the table as part of the back-and-forth. It was that kind of fun.

The other thing I learned: Bring a new product to hawk.TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld broke news about launching a new video site, “Elevator Pitches,” where entrepreneurs can submit videos of their company and be rated by viewers. Wolff discussed his biography of News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch and Newser, his site which summarizes news stories from around the Web.

We also discovered that Newsweek is now tapping its summer interns for ideas on how to change the company. It’s either clever or desperate… or both.

Sulzberger masters hedge funds, Sudoku

‘Father of Sudoku’ Maki KajiNew York Times Co Chairman and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. managed to deflect major shareholder insurrection this year by agreeing to offer two board seats to a dissident investor’s rival slate, where one presumes they might be somewhat more placid than when they were banging on the walls of the Gray Lady. Now it looks like he might be working the same charm on disaffected puzzlers.

At Tuesday’s annual shareholder meeting, one woman who said she was an investor in the company asked why the Times didn’t run a Sudoku puzzle. Such a move, she explained to Sulzberger as he stood before his audience at the lectern, would no doubt be a big boon for circulation.

Here’s Sulzberger’s response:

I know it’s something we’ve looked at but I cannot answer the question as to why we haven’t done it yet. Our puzzle is one of the great puzzles of the world and it continues to be a huge draw for us. But I will certainly make your thoughts known to the puzzle people.

Yahoo: No surprises there

jerry-1.jpgWe weren’t expecting huge surprises during Yahoo’s earnings conference call, but CEO Jerry Yang was spectacularly vague about the Internet company’s plans vis-a-vis Microsoft or any other potential tie-ups — with Google, Time Warner’s AOL or News Corp — that Yahoo has been working on.

At the very start of the call, Yang essentially said “Don’t go there” to analysts and investors, reminding them about the purpose of the call.

“I’d like to remind you that today’s call is about our Q1 results, so please direct your questions to the quarter if possible,” Yang said.

CBS News = CNN?

CBS Anchor Katie CouricIf CBS tosses its news operation and channels that of CNN, would you care? That conundrum brings to mind a tough question for the media industry as a whole: content may be king, but does brand matter, especially with news?

The New York Times says executives from CBS and Time Warner have discussed reducing CBS’s news-gathering capacity while keeping its top personalities, such as Katie Couric, and paying a fee to buy CNN’s news feeds. Or CBS might keep its correspondents in certain regions but pair them with CNN crews. Anchors like Anderson Cooper already appear on both networks.

Variety says insiders at the two companies “downplayed” the report.

Sure broadcasting legends like Fred Friendly and William Paley may be turning in their graves, but in a world of declining viewership for network news and increased popularity of news consumed on the Web or mobile devices with aggregators like Drudge and Google News, one wonders if this is a smart cost-cutting move for CBS. CBS news is mired in last place amid the continuing struggles of Couric, who was given a $15 million a year contract, to attract new viewers, the Times said.

Ex-U.S. Presidential wannabes lambast campaign coverage

The wireless industry’s clout attracted former U.S. presidents last year, but this year it was just enough to lure the former wannabes.

This year’s headline keynote speakers at the CTIA annual industry showcase were former presidential candidates John Edwards and Fred Thompson? Last year the wireless show nabbed Former actual Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton as keynote speakers.

After lamenting lost chances and nodding to the increasing importance of technology in campaigns, both politicians then got busy criticizing how the mainstream media has handled the presidential campaign so far.

Former Yahoo Finance exec to run paidContent parent

contentnext.JPGFormer Yahoo Finance General Manager Nathan Richardson is expected to be appointed Chief Executive of ContentNext Media Inc, owner of popular digital media blog paidContent, according to a source familiar with the matter.Richardson’s last stint in the media sector was as a senior vice president and general manager of Dow Jones Online, which included oversight of The Wall Street Journal Online, MarketWatch and Barron’s.Most recently he headed up the International Rescue Committee in Liberia for about a year before returning back to media for a slightly less hectic lifestyle.Richardson takes over the CEO spot from co-founder Rafat Ali, who will remain as editor and publisher. ContentNext’s flagship paidContent, founded in 2002, has quickly established itself as a must-read among executives in the media and digital media sector.