MediaFile

Top Rupert Murdoch adviser learns meaning of ‘deadline’

Top Rupert Murdoch adviser Gary Ginsberg is leaving News Corp after 11 years, the company said on Monday.

It must have hit New York Times reporter Tim Arango’s e-mail inbox first (his writeup appeared about five minutes before I got the press release).

Here is what he wrote about Ginsberg, 47, the second senior executive to leave News Corp in recent months, following Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin:

Mr. Ginsberg, a former lawyer in the Clinton White House, was hired in 1999 to be News Corporation’s director of communications. He was hired partly to refurbish the company’s image after a controversy in which Mr. Murdoch was said to have stopped publication of a book by Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong, to curry favor with the Chinese government. Mr. Ginsberg’s portfolio within News Corporation expanded well beyond public relations. He gradually gained control over investor relations, marketing and corporate social responsibility. He also became an important bridge between Mr. Murdoch and Democratic politicians, particularly Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Ginsberg, Arango said, arranged a lunch between Bill Clinton and Murdoch in Harlem, and a year later with a New York Post newsroom tour. Eventually, the Post endorsed Hillary Clinton for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and Murdoch threw her a fundraiser at News Corp’s headquarters. (Yes, that is quite a feat to arrange for a newspaper that under Murdoch has leaned Republican more often than not.)

News Corp throws down the Google gauntlet

The war of words between the news media industry and Google makes for a great spectacle, and this week did not disappoint.

According to a report in the Silicon Alley Insider blog, Associated Press CEO Tom Curley is meeting with Google on Friday to press for the creation of a “news registry.” Here’s SAI on the AP’s move:

It hopes such a registry would propel its content to a higher rank in general search than the blogs that the news agency accuses of lifting its content.

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, drop.io founder Sam Lessin and Thrillist’s Ben Lerer explained to me how this all came about.

FCC: There might be something amiss in media

Newspaper advertising is a joke, local TV stations are struggling to get ads of their own, journalists are losing their jobs and media executives are calling 25 percent revenue declines an improvement. It sounds like something might be amiss in the U.S. media world.

But don’t take our word for it if you’re the Federal Communications Commission, and you’re about to revisit media ownership regulations and see if they need some changing. See this item from Inside Radio:

[FCC] Chairman Julius Genachowski hires internet entrepreneur and journalist Steven Waldman to lead an agency-wide initiative assessing the state of media. Waldman will lead a team to conduct what’s promised to be an “open, fact-finding process” looking at how the economy is impacting media outlets and make recommendations for policy changes.

MySpace: Be ready to read this story twice

MySpace, the online social network (can we still call it that now that it has ducked out of the Facebook/Twitter competition?), appears to be pursuing what I’ll call the “two-pronged news strategy.” You get used to it when you cover media and technology. For those of you who don’t enjoy this privilege, it goes like this:

    Pick a news outlet that you like and whisper things to them about what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be interesting, it just has to be exclusive. If you’re in public relations, you don’t even have to know that someone in your company is doing this. It works well for you. Let the rest of the press read the story and bombard your telephone and e-mail with messages demanding to know if it’s true. Score a big hit on the news cycle. Because you either decline to comment or only want to talk “on background,” it heightens the air of mystery — and newsworthiness. The official announcement of the news, which will always resemble 90 percent or more of what you read in the first round of anonymously sourced stories, will get just as much attention as that first round. It’s a 2-for-1 deal that is irresistible to many companies.

I don’t know that MySpace is doing this, and wouldn’t be able to confirm it if I asked. It could just be that the reporters who get the breaking news have great sources and the reporter asked smart questions that would yield good answers. I’ll let you judge.

The first example comes from Kara Swisher, tech blogger at AllThingsD, which is MySpace’s cousin in the News Corp family. She reports:

MySpace: A place for musicians… and their friends

It appears to be Music Wednesday on the Internet. On the same day that reports began circulating that Google and Facebook will launch a host of new music features, News Corp’s MySpace is turning up the volume on its own music offering.

The online social network will offer the following new features:

    You already can buy music on MySpace through Amazon, but now you can also get it through Apple’s iTunes. All music videos will now be available through a “hub” on MySpace Music. This includes music video recommendations based on what your friends are watching, along with a video player with a link to buy the ones you like, and an A-Z browser to find what you’re looking for. An artist’s dashboard (pictured in this blog post). This is not something that fans would see. Instead, it is reserved for artists and bands that want to track their popularity among MySpace users. This is one of the more interesting things that we’ve seen on MySpace. It offers charts, graphs and snapshots of MySpace music data, including where fans are, song plays, profile views, friend count and profile visitors.

MySpace Chief Executive Owen Van Natta says that these moves give the service’s users a “more integrated and comprehensive experience — not just audio in one place and band interaction somewhere else.”

On a deeper level, they are part of a reconstruction of MySpace and its goals that started when News Corp earlier this year replaced top management and brought in Van Natta, formerly of Facebook. Recall that MySpace has not had a great go of things lately, having fallen behind Facebook in the few years since News Corp bought it for $580 million.

The Wall Street Journal — now for ‘professionals’

The Wall Street Journal, ever on the hunt for new ways to please its readers and new ways to make money (and what, we ask, is wrong with that?), will launch a new, pricier version this November. Called “The Wall Street Journal Professional Edition,” it is designed for business readers who want more than what the daily newspaper and website provide on their own.

Essentially, it is the Journal’s daily offering, with reports from Dow Jones Newswires and a reservoir of news and information from Factiva, the news archive that Dow Jones owns — and a bunch more stuff:

    Information from more than 17,000 global sources, some of which are not available to the public. A one-year archive of Factiva’s global business sources and a two-year archive of wsj.com content. More than 30 industry pages, managed by Dow Jones editors Six industry sections managed by Journal editors who select news and information for readers on pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy, media and marketing, telecommunications and technology. Personalized homepages and news alerts for when things break.

Dow Jones plans to sell the edition to businesses, which would make it available to employees through “site licenses” (ie, your business buys a license that makes the professional edition available to X number of people for a price to be determined). In January, it will be available to people for $49 a month, or just under $600 a year, said Clare Hart, head of Dow Jones’s Enterprise Media Group, which oversees Dow Jones Newswires, Factiva and Dow Jones Indexes.

Wall Street Journal vs USA Today — Part II

Earlier this week I brought you the brewing circulation tussle between USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, and which paper will be able to claim to be the largest one in terms of circulation. You can read that here, but for the recap, here are the main points:

    Editor & Publisher reports: USA Today was set to report that circulation fell “17% to 1.88 million for the six months ending September 2009, a drop of about 390,000 copies. The decline could also threaten USA Today’s position as the No. 1 newspaper in the country by circulation.” The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press report that the Journal would be the largest paper by circulation, according to the Journal. USA Today responds, “We are confident that even with this latest economic impact, USA TODAY will remain the nation’s number one newspaper in total print circulation when the ABC statements are released October 26th.”

As I wrote at the time, it seems that the Journal is counting print and online subscriptions together, and why not? Both are made up of paying subscribers. USA Today, of course, is counting printed newspapers.

We won’t know until their circulation numbers are published on October 26 what the final, comparable figures would be. But today, the Journal revealed its latest numbers:

WSJ vs USA Today: Who has the biggest paper?

USA Today and The Wall Street Journal aren’t waiting for Oct. 26, the day North American newspapers report their latest circulation numbers, to begin tussling over which one has the biggest paper.

Editor & Publisher made the first move on Friday when Jennifer Saba reported that USA Today was set to report that circulation fell “17% to 1.88 million for the six months ending September 2009, a drop of about 390,000 copies. The decline could also threaten USA Today’s position as the No. 1 newspaper in the country by circulation.” The news came in a memo from USA Today Publisher, David Hunke, to his workers.

Spicy stuff, considering that when we write about its owner, Gannett, we say it is the largest U.S. newspaper publisher that publishes USA Today, the largest newspaper by circulation.

Rupert Murdoch: You call it free news, I call you ‘kleptomaniac’

Lest anyone doubt the thrust of Rupert Murdoch’s speech on Thursday (or was it Friday? I’m losing track of time zones) at the World Media Summit in Beijing, it was all about paying for news — as in: You’re going to pay for news, and if you think it shouldn’t cost you anything, you’re a “flat-earther” and a “kleptomaniac.”

For those of you accustomed to the News Corp CEO’s occasional verbal ramblings and hints of ghosts of suggestions, this was a departure. He has gone on the record in great detail about his thoughts regarding paid news, but this is the first time that I recall him using fightin’ words like “flat-earther.”

Murdoch also “urged the Chinese government to take full advantage of the country’s creative potential by opening the door to media competition and ensuring that intellectual property is protected,” according to the speech and the press release, but let’s be clear — the message that resonated was: “You’re going to pay for news as long as we need to pay people to report it.”