Springsteen popping up in newspaper ads

How bad is the economy? New Jersey’s largest food bank is in danger of running short of groceries for the low income individuals and families who need them. How do we know this? A new advertising campaign featuring home-grown rock star and activist Bruce Springsteen.

The Springsteen advertisement for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey will be running in The New York Times, The Star-Ledger, The Bergen Record, and the Daily Record on Sunday, Nov. 16th.

The campaign is titled “We Can’t Let This Bank Fail” — a play, of course, on the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and others — and comes amid worries that the current economic crisis will take a toll on charitable giving even as more folks need some help. The FoodBank says the sickly economy has driven a 30 percent state-wide rise in those needing food.  

New York Times will absorb’s website reported on Wednesday that

The New York Times’ Web site is getting more global, and is going bye-bye. The Times told staff in an internal e-mail Tuesday that the paper’s flagship Web site will soon become host to news from sister paper the International Herald Tribune and that the Tribune’s site will be shuttered. The move will require “hard decisions about jobs at the IHT,” and the company is now looking to “reassign or relocate people,” according to the memo.

The Times folks disputed the “shuttered” and “bye-bye” parts. They say it’s a change, not a shutdown. (We’ll buy that: we reported this back in June, citing an international memo from Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and IHT Publisher Stephen Dunbar-Johnson)

We got our hands on the memo, and it does say that the IHT might reassign or relocate people. But it looks like the fate of the website will be something more like what we’ve seen from and the BBC. The Post offers DC-area users more local news on one version of the page, while offering national and international visitors a separate page with more news that they care about. The BBC features UK and international versions of its homepage.

New York Times bulks up on business, tech

Watching financial markets burn like toast highlights an interesting trend: the journalism business might be in trouble, but business journalism is only getting hotter. CNBC, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Fox Business (plus one or two news wires) are trying to elbow each other out of the way for the latest scoop. The New York Times, which has been no slouch, is the latest to bulk up.

Here’s the top of a press release that the paper is sending out on Tuesday:

The New York Times announced today significant expansions of its online business coverage with a redesigned Technology section, the introduction of an Economy section and Green Inc., a blog on energy and the environment, and enhancements to The Times’s mobile site. In the coming months, will expand the Small Business, Personal Technology and Your Money sections; introduce more journalists; deepen coverage within its DealBook franchise; and continue to add new tools and multimedia features throughout its online and mobile business pages.

Slim chance for New York Times Co.


Few investors are interested in newspapers these days — except for the super rich.

Carlos Slim, who Forbes lists as the world’s second-richest man, has picked up a 6.4 percent stake in The New York Times Co.

Asked by Reuters why he bought a stake in the publishing company that owns The New York Times, Boston Globe and other assets, Slim said “It’s financial.” The suggestion there is that he is not making a strategic move into U.S. media.

Cablevision gets big new stakeholder, a Harbinger of things to come?

Cablevision has a new(ish) big stakeholder and things could get interesting as it is activist investor Harbinger Capital. According to a regulatory filing Harbinger now owns a combined 11 million shares in Cablevision through two funds as of June 30th, making it the 5th largest external stakeholder in the New York cable operator.

Harbinger, lest we forget, has been shoving around the media companies in which it has snapped up stakes to find to boost share prices, notably with New York Times and Media General earlier this year.

gabelli.jpgHarbinger will be joining Mario Gabelli (pictured left), of Gabelli & Co, which owns around 20 million Cablevision shares and has been very loudly pushing for the company to consider selling assets such as its cable networks. Gabelli wants Cablevision to use the funds from such an asset sale to buy back stock. Other big name Cablevision shareholders are ClearBridge Advisors (part of Legg Mason), T Rowe Price and London-based Marathon Asset Management.

Buy The Boston Globe? That’s so 2006

jack-welch.jpgOne of the top parlor games among undertakers reporters covering the newspaper business is figuring out who would buy The Boston Globe if The New York Times Co ever decided to sell it.

That game might get harder to play, now that the top candidate is out of the running. Here is the Globe’s competitor, the Boston Herald, with the scoop (see the second item):

A group of Boston businessmen that included Connors and former GE chief Jack Welch had “expressed interest” in negotiating with the New York Times Co. to buy the Globe. Welch and Connors were willing to pay between $500 and $600 million, but the Times wasn’t interested.

Even HBO needs an editor

New York Times columnist Frank Rich plainly was missing something in his life: a creative consulting gig at a major cable network. See the release for details:

In this capacity, Rich will both initiate and help develop projects at the pay-TV network.
“Frank is one of the smartest and most astute observers of popular culture, and we are thrilled that we can call upon his judgment and superb instincts,” said Plepler and Lombardo.

And the important part for ethics-types, considering Rich will stay at the Times:

New York Times and Journal Register? Seriously?

journal-register-logo.JPGWe’ve written a lot lately about tiny Journal Register Co , the newspaper publisher that’s exploring its options — another way of saying that its survival is on the line. Among them is getting its lenders to restructure its debt so it won’t have to declare default. Another, which would depend on that, is taking $25 million from an Ohio-based investment firm and selling off a bunch of its failing newspapers.

The New Haven Advocate, which publishes in the same town as Journal Register’s largest paper, the New Haven Register, is reporting information nyt-logo.JPGthat seems about as reliable as reports of multiple gunmen at Dealey Plaza:

One of the options that we never considered, but apparently someone out there is pushing, is selling either some or all of the company to the New York Times Co. Here’s what the New Haven Advocate wrote:The financial free-fall and dwindling readership of the Journal Register Co. and its flagship Register are old news, but that doesn’t mean somebody doesn’t think they can turn the business around. JRC honchos won’t tell The Nose a thing, but a source inside the Reg hints that no less a monolith than The New York Times Co. may be a suitor.

WSJ Page One, now with 53 percent less Wall Street!

murdoch-chart-3.jpgMany Wall Street Journal watchers bemoan new owner Rupert Murdoch’s greater emphasis on political and general news coverage in the paper, but so far their evidence has been anecdotal.

Not anymore! The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) furnished numbers that give an exact percentage on the decrease in business news that gets on the front page of the nation’s most powerful business daily. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Under the Murdoch regime, the single biggest change in front-page coverage occurred with politics and the presidential campaign. From Dec. 13, 2007 through March 13, 2008, coverage more than tripled, jumping to 18% of the newshole compared with 5% in the four months before the ownership change.

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.