MediaFile

See you at the job bank

We were talking the other day about job cuts — more specifically about who would be next to feel the axe blade. We’d seen big cuts at Viacom, Omnicom, Warner Brothers and Time Inc, and, you know, it obviously didn’t take a genius to figure more were coming.

The next day: A memo from AOL Chief Executive Randy Falco announces that the Internet unit of Time Warner will cut 700 jobs, or about 10 percent of its workforce;  Reader’s Digest says it will cut 8 percent of its staff.

And now we come to Walt Disney Co, which is cutting about 5 percent of its workforce through a combination of 200 layoffs and a job freeze on another 200 positions.

“After months of making hard decisions across our businesses to help us adjust to a weakening economy, we’re now faced with the harsh reality of having to eliminate jobs in some areas,” Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney-Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television, said in a memo sent to workers and obtained by Reuters.

So now it’s worth asking yet again: Who is next?

Could it be News Corp? Portfolio reports that The Wall Street Journal’s newsroom “is due to undergo another round of personnel cuts late next week. It’s unclear exactly how many employees will be affected, but two sources put the number of people being targeted at 50.”

Facebook hotter than MySpace: Yahoo CEO Bartz

Facebook is hot, MySpace is not.  We didn’t say it, Yahoo’s new chief executive Carol Bartz did.

During Yahoo’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, one analysts asked Bartz what Yahoo’s strategy is for going after the younger demographic, i.e. the generation whose lives play out on social networks.

“That was one of the questions I asked the (Yahoo) board when I was speaking to them in November and December,” Bartz replied. “I have a 20-year-old and also two kids in their late 20s, so I’m very familiar with the Facebooks of the world and before that, MySpace, and see what the kids do. So I’m very curious about that demographic.”

Newspapers: These are a few of my favorite playthings

The story of rich billionaires buying troubled newspapers is one that has been told before, but never with headlines that practically nod and wink at you like this one from the Financial Times: Playthings for rich men could be unsafe toys

Tell us about it!

The story by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson explores the ups and downs of selling troubled, publicly traded newspaper companies to impossibly rich buyers. As he says, would-be press barons might find to their dismay that the old business model is dying. That means taking over a paper could be a reputation killer, not an enhancer.

The most interesting but sad item in the story is this tidbit:

The $5.6bn Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp paid in 2007 for Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal and several local papers, would now be sufficient to buy Gannett, the New York Times, McClatchy, Media General, Belo and Lee Enterprises, even at twice their current share prices.

Fox Business wants you on TV on Saturday

What are you doing Saturday? Nothing? Wrong! You’re going on the Fox Business Network and you’re going to ask them questions about your finances. Here are the relevant details from the press release:

FOX Business Network (FBN) will debut “Your Questions, Your Money Live,” a new weekly series presented every Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM (ET) starting January 24, announced Kevin Magee, Executive Vice President, FOX News.

Hosted by FBN’s Dagen McDowell, “Your Questions, Your Money Live,” is a weekly four-hour live call-in show where viewers can talk to experts about the ongoing economic crisis and raise questions about personal finance issues.

Fox chief: American Idol results shows were boring

Update: I made some changes here. The folks at Fox say that Tony Vinciquerra said he found the results shows in season seven boring — not the finale. They were right and I was wrong. Here is the entry, with my corrections (I rewrote the headline too.

You can’t say that Fox Chief Executive Tony Vinciquerra isn’t clear about what he wants from the American Idol staff. In short: he wants a less boring season finale with more interesting coaches for the contestants… and while we’re at it, more interesting contestants.

Talk about tough love from the big boss!

Here is what Vinciquerra said at a conference earlier on Wednesday when asked about News Corp’s Fox Network and the popular show that turns ordinary people into super-celebrities: The season seven finale (no — the result shows) were boring.

Newspapers hock their bargain basements

Good newspaper reporters have a knack for timing. They spot trends and tell readers about them before anyone else does. Their publishers have a knack for timing too — the bad kind.

With stock prices spiraling toward zero, debt looming and their future in doubt, newspapers are looking for ways to keep the money coming in. Some of those ways sound good, but only on paper. Here’s the latest example, as detailed in an Associated Press story:

With revenue plunging as readers and advertisers flee to the Web, many newspaper companies have turned to selling off their buildings to raise money or save on costs. But now that option may be drying up too, as frozen credit markets make commercial real estate deals scarce.

from Summit Notebook:

WSJ reporters get, dig change

We and the rest of the media world that covered News Corp and Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of Dow Jones & Co had no shortage of reporters at The Wall Street Journal telling us how bad life was going to get. Among the complaints was the paper's increasing focus on politics and non-business news. Wasn't this "diluting the brand" as they say in mediaspeak?

Not so, according to Robert Thomson, the former Times of London editor who now edits the Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. Business news now is concentrated in the B section of the paper (B for Business, yes, it works.), and Journal reporters are not only with the program, they're showing a willingness to try things differently.

"It's been fascinating. There was a presumption that people would be unwilling to change," Thomson told us at the Reuters Media Summit. "There has been an innate enthusiasm to develop the paper, particularly to develop the relationship between the paper, WSJ.com, Dow Jones Newswires and Marketwatch."

Watch Gannett layoffs in slow motion

It’s layoff week at Gannett — even the second N and T might be redundant.

The largest U.S. newspaper publisher and owner of USA Today, the nation’s biggest-selling daily paper, is slashing payroll just in time for the holidays. We read about layoffs everywhere these days, but if you want to see the slow-motion car crash version of how Gannett is doing it, look to Gannett Blog, run by former company reporter Jim Hopkins.

With no newspaper job to keep him busy, Hopkins chronicles nearly every event that he hears about Gannett. That includes a dose of rumor, but much of what he reports is more right than wrong.

How I Wolff’d down the Murdoch book

After nearly setting off my tilt mechanism at Thanksgiving dinner by eating twice my weight in food, I spent the earlier part of Friday gorging on as much of Michael Wolff’s new Rupert Murdoch biography as I could. I read just enough to think of some questions for Wolff that wouldn’t come off as sounding too stupid, and then we got on the phone.

First, a short reminder of why we care about Rupert Murdoch and want to read Wolff’s book, “The Man Who Owns the News,” which Broadway Books, an imprint of Random House’s Doubleday label, is releasing on Dec. 2 (after passing some copies around to people like me):

    Murdoch is the legendarily aggressive Australian businessman who built News Corp into an international media empire. He owns this crazy collection of stuff, from MySpace to the New York Post to Sky Italia to stakes in companies in countries you’ve never even heard of. He did it despite — and perhaps because of — his treatment by more well-heeled media contemporaries as a vulgar, Antipodean mutant form of themselves. He’s a big risk-taker, as evidenced by his $5.6 billion purchase of Dow Jones & Co and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal. That price was 65 percent more than the company was worth. His love life with the much younger Wendi Deng causes constant speculation about who will run his empire when he is gone. Some people think he uses his news outlets to advance his business interests, something that in utterly unremarkable in certain parts of the world.

Now for some Q&A with Michael Wolff. We moved one or two items out of chronological order to preserve a bit of continuity with the questions.

Steve Ballmer might as well take applications for Yahoo job

Able to use a computer? Check. High school diploma? Check. Work well with others? Check. Willing to strike a deal with Microsoft? Ummmm….

Indeed, in the hunt for the next top dog at Yahoo that last issue — whether the candidate can do a deal with Microsoft — may be the most pressing.

Since Yahoo’s announcement on Monday that Jerry Yang would step aside, the tech/media world has been abuzz with speculation about his replacement. Silicon Alley Insider is even running a terrific mock election — letting its readers vote among six candidates.