Get ready for the battle of the superphones

fencing1.jpgNow this should be one good duel.

The New York Times is reporting that T-Mobile will be the first carrier to offer a mobile phone powered by Google’s Android software. And it will go on sale… soon!

Talk about anticipation. This is right up there with Apple’s introduction of the new iPhone, which, of course, is only appropriate since the two high-end phones will directly compete with one another in an Olympic-worthy battle. 

From the New York Times:

The phone will be made by HTC, one of the largest makers of mobile phones in the world, and is expected to go on sale in the United States before Christmas, perhaps as early as October.

The high-end phone is expected to match many of the capabilities of Apple’s iPhone and  other so-called smartphones that run software from Palm, Research in Motion, Microsoft and Nokia to access the Internet and perform computerlike functions.

The report says that the phone will have a touch screen that slides out to offer a five-row keyboard. It also says that one person who has seen the HTC phone confirms that it matched the one in a recent video on YouTube.

Newhouse shuts door on wire service

The Newhouse News Service, which serves news from the nation’s capital to newspapers in the Newhouse chain, will close down after the U.S. presidential election in November, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday. Why? Its member papers can’t afford to pay for it anymore.

Here’s what the AP reported:

“The decision to close followed the direction of our clients, the editors of our papers,” said Linda Fibich, editor and Washington bureau chief. “They felt they could not afford to pay for a central Washington bureau at a time when they were steering all available resources to local coverage back at home.”

I spoke briefly to David Starr, senior editor for the Newhouse papers, who confirmed the story. “Like all the other papers in America, they’re cutting staff here and there and they felt they couldn’t support the central Washington operation at the expense of their local coverage.”

Sam Zell: You’re fired! Now let’s move on…

Tribune Co is making good on its promise to use its own reporters to break news about Tribune. It’s not the company’s fault if that news is depressing.

Chief Executive Sam Zell held a conference call with reporters at its papers on Tuesday, prompting a profusion of press coverage in Tribune-owned publications on Wednesday. Some of the most interesting excerpts showed up in The Hartford Courant:

Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell Tuesday defended his decision to order large cuts at newspapers across the chain, including The Courant, saying that no one could have predicted the dramatic drop in advertising revenue that followed his takeover of the company seven months ago.

Darkness on the edge of town: Newspapers 2008

new-york-times.jpgThe Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism just published a 36-page study called “The Changing Newsroom: What is Being Gained and What is Being Lost in America’s Daily Newspapers?” The upshot? This little number and this one would make good visual analogs.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

“Meet the American daily newspaper of 2008. It has fewer pages than three years ago, the paper stock is thinner, and the stories are shorter. There is less foreign and national news, less space devoted to science, the arts, features and a range of specialized subjects. Business coverage is either packaged in an increasingly thin stand-alone section or collapsed into another part of the paper. The crossword puzzle has shrunk, the TV listings and stock tables may have disappeared, but coverage of some local issues has strengthened and investigative reporting remains highly valued.”

And financially speaking:

“Despite an image of decline, more people today in more places read the content produced in the newsrooms of American daily newspapers than at any time in years. But revenues are tumbling. The editors expect the financial picture only to worsen, and they have little confidence that they know what their papers will look like in five years.”

Reader sues newspaper over layoffs

Here’s a hot one we found on the Romenesko journalism business blog: A reader is suing The News & Observer, McClatchy’s paper in Raleigh, North Carolina, for cutting staff and the size of the paper.

Keith Hempstead, a Durham lawyer, filed the suit last month in Wake Superior Court. He says he renewed his subscription in May just before the paper announced on June 16 the layoffs of 70 staff members and cuts in news pages. The paper, he says, is now not worth what he signed up for and therefore the cuts breached the paper’s contract with him.

Hempstead — a former reporter at the Fayetteville Observer — told Friedman that he likes the paper, but hates all the staff cuts that he says hurts their quality and is antithetical to the way the newspaper business ought to be run. He is seeking unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees, but added that he’s in it for the love, not the money.

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.

More newspaper cuts… anyone surprised?

tribune-tower.jpgSo Tribune Co is cutting jobs at The Sun in Baltimore and Hartford Courant.

Not to sound callous, but by this point should anyone be surprised by news that a publisher is getting rid of jobs? After all, this is shaping up to be one of the worst years in memory for the newspaper business.

The upshot: The Sun will lose 100 jobs, 60 of them in the newsroom, and the Courant will cut about 60 jobs. (Don’t forget, Tribune is also cutting jobs at the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune)

But it’s not just Tribune. It seems everyone is cutting jobs as advertising revenue plunges thanks to the one-two combination of a weak economy and competition from the Internet for marketing dollars.

Newspaper Association, now with 14% less advertising!

First the Newspaper Association of America canceled its annual conference for U.S. newspaper publishers to tell Wall Street about how great their businesses are. No surprise; business isn’t great.

Now it’s dropping its tradition of sending out a quarterly press release with details on how much money advertisers are spending in the papers, something we discovered after reading the story over at the competition. What’s next? No more website?

I called the Newspaper Association to ask why they stopped sending out the information. Could it be because the 14 percent drop in the first quarter compared to the quarter last year is just the latest and worst in a series of bad numbers?

Bloomberg, a stake of one’s own

When we heard that Merrill Lynch wasn’t ruling out a sale of its stake in newswire and financial information service Bloomberg LP, we had to wonder who would want it. Morebloomberg.jpg to the point, we had to wonder who wouldn’t. As our story explained, Bloomberg probably (though we can’t say for sure) is a lucrative enterprise that any investor would want to profit from.

As it turns out, wanting something is fine, but just because you want something doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. Here’s the problem: at an estimated $6 billion, Merrill’s Bloomberg stake is way too expensive for most media companies. Not only that, the companies who could afford it — private equity and sovereign wealth funds — are unlikely to raise the cash to take a shot at it. The reason? They like the control that money brings, and with Bloomberg that’s not going to happen.

I spent some time with a high-level (and of course anonymous) source who knows how things work at Bloomberg, and here’s what that source had to say about it:

More Tribune layoffs coming? Not yet.

When we saw a memo hit the blogs this week saying that more Tribune layoffs could be coming, we put the reporting machinery into motion — only to find out that apparently it’s not true.

While future layoffs are perhaps inevitable, the latest memo authored by Chief Executive Sam Zell turned out to not be “latest” at all.

The subject line, which you can see at the Los Angeles Times Pressmens 20 Year Club, says “Reducing staff,” always a promising sign of news. Then there was this: