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.”

James Murdoch Approved Payment to Phone Tap Victim (Bloomberg)
“James Murdoch, the son of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, agreed to a 700,000-pound ($1.1 million) payment to a victim of phone-tapping by the News of the World, the editor of the company’s newspaper said,” writes Robert Hutton.
> Ex-Murdoch paper editor says phone taps not policy (Reuters)

Conde Nast September Monthlies Lose 1,680 Ad Pages (NYO)
tumbled to 427 pages total, down 36 percent from last September. W is down 53 percent; Allure and Gourmet are down 51 percent; and Self is down 50 percent. Vanity Fair came in just above average for the company, dropping 36 percent,” writes John Koblin.

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: 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.”

Springer’s daily Welt dreams of going international – again

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.

Die Welt is a conservative daily founded in 1946 by British occupying forces after the Second World War and acquired by Axel Springer in 1953. It has around 690,000 readers.

The thinking at Springer Verlag is that Die Welt could fill a void for non-German readers who are interested in news from continental Europe, while attracting lucrative new advertising customers.

Facebook says Oops, (we) did it again

One day after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social networking site would stand by its revised terms of use, he capitulated and said Facebook would return to its old terms while “we resolve the issues that people have raised.”

Zuckerberg said Facebook would work on a “substantial revision.” In the meantime, members can voice their opinions — or as the case has been, give vent to their outrage — through “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities,” a group created by the networking site.

Here’s a sampling of the 4,229 wall posts so far:

“you guys are a major corp and you think im to believe for a second that you would not share all of our information to make some money for yourselves……PLEASE TELL US ALL ANOTHER LIE!!!!!!!!!!” (James Stull, Montreal, QC)

Beam me up…Barbie?

Yes, it’s true. Mattel has gone where it has already gone before, but only differently!

Pictures of Mattel’s new Star Trek Barbies were released on Wednesday causing a stir among Trekkies, eagerly anticipating Paramount’s May release of the film, “Star Trek,” chronicling the earliest days of Captain Kirk and Spock.

The toys’ images, released by CBS Consumer Products, which owns the licensing rights for Star Trek consumer products, show the three dolls, which are modeled after the three actors playing Captain Kirk, Spock, and Lieutenant Uhura in the film, which is set to be released in theatres on May 8th!

CES: TVs, TVs and… TV zombies

I stepped out of the Las Vegas Convention Center yesterday to recover from the brilliant glare of the gazillion TVs on display inside — only to run into another set of boxes on the sidewalk. Okay, they weren’t regular old TVs, but humans wearing black boxes over their heads.

Their heads emblazoned with the logos of TV companies, these “TV zombies” were out on the street taking a break from their first CES protest. Jeffrey Jacoby, one of the zombies, explained that they were members of the Electronics Takeback Coalition, which was demonstrating against the poor gadget recycling practices of consumer electronics manufacturers like LG, Toshiba, Sony and others.

“We’re calling on manufacturers of TVs at CES to take back old products and keep toxic e-waste from coming to haunt us,” said Jacoby, who was dressed in rags and had on white face paint. The Dallas resident works for an environmental non-profit group and came to Vegas along with nearly 40 other people, just to protest.

CES: Samsung gadgets get reporters hot and bothered

If gadgets were fashion models, Samsung would probably send its TVs, Blu-ray players and camcorders sashaying down the runway, with reporters and photographers scrambling to get close. That’s how proud they were of their gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show — admittedly, they were all slim, sexy and worth a slip of drool.

The South Korean electronics giant paraded a number of new or upgraded TV models in Las Vegas today, including a line-up of high-definition TVs that are supposed to be more energy efficient because they use LED as a light source rather than traditional cathode lamps.

Jongwoo Park, Samsung’s president of digital media, was quite bullish when asked about the tiny LED TV market. “We’re going to create the market,” he said.

CES: Toshiba’s Regza gets a facelift this year

Toshiba’s pricey Regza LCD televisions are getting cosmetic surgery this year, the Japanese electronics maker announced at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday.

Not that these TVs need a face lift, but companies do like to make splashy announcements in Las Vegas.

The newest Regza TVs will have “cutting-edge cosmetics” due to its “Deep Lagoon” design, which is “inspired by the beauty and elegance of nature” and provides a 3D feeling, according to Toshiba.

Pass the buck, er, ballot box at Sun Valley

obama2.jpgThe sun shone for Barack Obama at the annual Allen & Co mogulfest in Sun Valley, Idaho, where many campers gave the Democratic hopeful the thumbs up.

In keeping with a tradition held every presidential election year at the confab, Allen & Co  passed around a faux ballot box for attendees inviting even their kids to cast their votes for their favorite candidate.

“Obama. I think he’s going to win,” said Sony Corp head Howard Stringer. Many others at the gathering privately pledged support for Obama.   The crowd draws a large Hollywood contingent, which is traditionally pro-Democratic and even Republican supporters like Rupert Murdoch have predicted a Democratic landslide in November. Who’d expect Rupert  to pick a loser?