from DealZone:

No longer just a dumb pipe

Comcast's deal to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric should put to rest fears at the cable operator that King Content will kill its business. But even if it becomes a thoroughfare of programming genius, the new venture will still have to convince a skeptical marketplace. The train wreck of Time Warner-AOL threw the idea of new media into financial purgatory.

Just how the venture will wring savings from its disparate businesses and avoid suffocating regulatory scrutiny are issues that could also create Comcastic headaches.  Robert MacMillan points out on our Mediafile blog, with a sensible dose of skepticism, that the new venture is affirming its commitment to local news, in effect, promising to keep the garden hoses pumping even as it primes for a media gusher with big-ticket programming.

Still, while making a new media juggernaut could still turn out to be a pipe dream, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts (pictured above) cannot be faulted for allowing his company to get stuck in a dumb pipe nightmare.

from Global News Journal:

Dream job or snake pit? UN appoints new spokesman

By Patrick Worsnip

It's not uncommon for journalists at some point in their careers to cross the barricades and become the people who dish out the news as spokespersons for an organization or firm, rather than being on the receiving end. It requires a different set of skills that can make the transition tough, and a stern test confronts former Reuters correspondent Martin Nesirky, who has just been appointed spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. After a high-flying career at Reuters that saw him fill senior editorial positions in London, Berlin, Moscow and Seoul, Nesirky has had some time to acclimatize to his new role by working for more than three years as spokesman for the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), based in Vienna. But the move to New York brings much more formidable challenges.

Like any U.N. spokesperson, Nesirky, a Briton, will have to take into account the concerns of the 192 nations that belong to the world body. That's 192 different governments that can get upset by something he might say. But his chief problem may be his boss Ban, whose public image, to put it mildly, could take a little burnishing. Aside from his awkward use of English, which has television producers tearing their hair, Ban has had a rough ride from hostile media that have accused him of failing to use his position to end the world's conflicts and right its wrongs. (Defenders say he is more effective than he appears, works tirelessly behind closed doors, and has made at least some progress on such intractable issues as climate change, global poverty and the crisis in Darfur.)

Then there is the sprawling and ill-defined nature of the U.N. press and public relations operation, with different officials and factions competing for the secretary-general's attention and waiting to pounce on any mis-step by one of the others. The outgoing spokeswoman, Michele Montas of Haiti, stuck to the job for less than three years. In trying to stay close to the South Korean secretary-general, Nesirky could benefit from his knowledge of the Korean language from his time in Seoul. He is also married to a South Korean. But these advantages too could be a double-edged sword. U.N. diplomats have long complained that Ban is happiest in a Korean comfort zone and relies too much on a compatriot who serves as his deputy chief-of-staff, Kim Won-soo.

As a white male from a Western permanent member of the Security Council, Nesirky could also face suspicion from diversity lobbies and from the developing world, which already sees Ban as too much in thrall to the United States. (Ban's U.S. critics make the opposite accusation.)

Audience and the media: a shaky marriage

How can mainstream news organizations retain (or regain) their audience’s trust in skeptical world where almost anyone with an Internet connection can be a publisher? That’s the topic a panel of industry experts will address tonight at the Thomson Reuters heaquarters in Times Square. We’ll be live blogging the event here from 7pm ET.

The panel comprises: Andrew Alexander, ombudsman, The Washington Post; Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor, The Associated Press; Lisa Shepard, ombudsman, National Public Radio; and Dean Wright, global editor of ethics, innovation & news standards, Reuters. Jack Shafer, editor-at-large for Slate, is the moderator.

If you’d like to put a question to the panel, leave it in the comments box below and we’ll ask a selection on your behalf.

Zelnick’s New Media Dinner: a new ideas exchange?

On the evening of Nov 2, about 70 people — new media upstarts and old media stalwarts, brand-name investors and top company executives — gathered at the Manhattan home of Strauss Zelnick to talk shop.

This was the third such gathering that Zelnick and his co-hosts organized, with the aim of bringing New York’s best media-focused minds under one roof to talk about the future of the business. In keeping the setting intimate and the number of invitations in the ballpark of about a hundred people, the organizers hope to turn the “New Media Dinner” into a recurring salon-of-sorts, where ideas, capital and expertise can mix and match.

In a half-hour chat before the guests started arriving, Zelnick and two of the co-hosts, founder Sam Lessin and Thrillist’s Ben Lerer explained to me how this all came about.

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.

from The Great Debate UK:

Social media is real and here to stay

Nic Newman- Nic Newman is Controller Future Media and Technology in BBC Journalism, and former Journalist Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. On September 30, he will speak on the Rise of Social Media and its Impact on Mainstream Media. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The news last week that the Prime Minister’s wife, Sarah Brown, has more Twitter devotees than Stephen Fry, is a further reminder of the onward march of social media

Politicians, entertainers, marketers and captains of industry are just some of those waking up to the potential of social media in transforming the way they relate to voters, fans and consumers.

The Huffington Post has No Impact

With the documentary “No Impact Man” out in theaters, it’s little surprise that others want to show their support for improving the environment through “no impact” projects of their own. The Huffington Post joins this round of advocacy journalism with Colin Beavan as they launch “No Impact Week,” starting on Oct. 18.

The idea, as expressed in a paperless press release:

The Huffington Post, a leading social news and opinion website, and the No Impact Project, a nonprofit project founded by Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man and subject of the film by the same title, today announced that the “No Impact Experiment,” an eight-day program encouraging individuals to learn about and implement lifestyle changes to lessen their impact on the environment, will have its inaugural run on the Huffington Post.

Here’s my favorite part:

No Impact Week will feature a daily regimen for users to follow; for instance, Sunday’s focus is on reducing consumption, on Monday the spotlight will be on reducing trash, Tuesday they will commute without adding carbon to the environment – ie, encouraging bike riding and walking; and Wednesday will be about eating foods grown locally and/or sustainably.

Talk, scratch head, talk some more (The future of news)

I got this invitation in my e-mail this week:

Because press space at the invitation-only event is extremely limited, kindly contact me as soon as possible to secure a seat.
Following is background on the event:

WHAT: A unique invitation-only gathering of more than 100 senior leaders from media and technology, the UCBerkeley Media Technology Summit is being organized by the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. The summit, which will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at the Googleplex, is intended to provide the leaders of traditional media companies with new insights into the technologies, consumer behavior and advertising systems that will affect their businesses at a time of momentous change (Sounds like the latest opportunity to smack around traditional media companies for being traditional, no? — ed). The Koret Foundation, Google and the McCormick Foundation are generously sponsoring the event.

I got my invitation from Alan Mutter, who blogs about the future of the news business at Reflections of a Newsosaur and someone whom I frequently ask for expert comments for my news stories. Because it’s from Alan, I know it will be interesting, and I wish I could attend (I’ll be in Toronto on covert military maneuvers for the Parti Quebecois for the Thomson Reuters investor day at the time).

What’s hot (and what’s not) in media – study

Veronis Suhler Stevenson is offering a look into its crystal ball.

The private equity firm, a leading one in the media and communications business, came out today with its 2003-2013 forecast, which essentially says the global recession will speed up needed changes in the media world. In other words, things like branded entertainment and mobile advertising are going to get even hotter, even faster.

And things like newspapers, radio, and yellow pages? Well, don’t ask.

Jim Rutherfurd, Executive Vice President and Managing Director at VSS, summed it up like this in a prepared statement: “The prolonged economic downturn has accelerated changes already underway in the communications industry. Notwithstanding significant declines in traditional media, the industry taken as a whole will continue to show relatively solid performance compared to the overall economy.”

Here’s a quick hit of some key takeaways from the VSS study:

    Total communications spending will decline 1 percent in 2009 to $882.6 billion.
    However, total communications spending will grow 3.6 percent per year over the next five years to $1 trillion.
    That will make communications the third fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy.
    Alternative marketing segments will grow at 12.6 percent annually from 2008-2013.
    Here’s what’s looking good over the coming years: Internet media, professional information, business information, education, direct marketing, event marketing, public relations, e-books, word-of-mouth marketing, subscription television, mobile advertising, video games, trade shows, digital out-of-home. And not so good: Newspapers, consumer magazines, broadcast television, radio, traditional out-of-home, yellow pages, home video, recorded music, traditional consumer books.

(Photo: Reuters)