MediaFile

Sun Valley: David Carr’s advice for reporters

The Bald Mountain resort in Sun Valley offers moguls for advanced skiers all winter long. Media reporters show up every July for the other kind of mogul, who lands among the picturesque Idaho mountains on a private jet and has a name like “Rupert Murdoch” or “Barry Diller.”

Reporters are supposed to be part of the scenery — not part of the conference itself.* They must stand around and hope that one of the more than 200 invitees decides to speak to them, and hopefully dispense a few nuggets of news. Fortunately, this week’s weather is supposed to be sunny, dry and warm during the day, and comfortably chilly at night.

For a Sun Valley freshman like this Reuters reporter, it sounds scary terrifying, despite the clement weather forecast. I asked New York Times media columnist David Carr, who covered the conference in 2007, for some advice. Here are some excerpts from our phone conversation;

Why did you go to the Sun Valley conference?

I was sent because (NYT deals columnist) Andrew Ross Sorkin was getting married. I was actually on vacation at the time, (but) Andrew is somebody at the paper who, whatever he asks for, we have to do. I was actually happy to step into the breach.

What kind of reporting do you do?

You’re arguing over real table scraps and taking deep meaning from people sitting physically
adjacent to each other by the duck pond, but you can’t hear what they say… I got a big get. I saw Rupert Murdoch in a parking lot walking and talking to somebody. I can’t remember who he was talking to, but that constitutes a huge get in the context of Sun Valley. (Was it CNN’s Anderson Cooper? We don’t know.)

Sun Valley: Where the money is

Allen & Co’s Sun Valley media and technology conference have included tennis pro Mats Wilander, Chicago singer Peter Cetera, actors Clint Eastwood and Demi Moore and Egyptian billionaire Mohamed al-Fayed.

With so many rich and famous media and technology tycoons hanging out at the Idaho retreat, now in its 27th year, it’s natural that other friends of Herb Allen from the financial and deals world are showing up.

Here’s a list of expected attendees from the world of capitalism — including financial company executives, portfolio managers, venture capital investors and private equity chieftains, to name a few. Keep in mind that this list might not be complete.

Sun Valley: What are these guys doing here?

Allen & Co’s annual Sun Valley media conference attracts more than moguls, technology executives and money managers. Of the more than 200 people on the invitation list, there are plenty whose connection to the conference’s themes are tangential at best.

This is a perennial feature, previous attendees told me, but they usually don’t get as much attention because reporters are trying to break news on the big media guys. Many of them come because they have ties to banker and conference organizer Herb Allen. Others come because they’re just plain interesting people.

Also, you can detect what likely themes will emerge in panel discussions. We’re guessing a host of generic discussions that usually mark high-level meetings: world health, making U.S. children more competitive in math and science so they’ll “innovate” and start tech companies, the United States’ export of “soft power” through which it influences other nations through its cultural and media exports, how sports and media can continue to get rich off each other, how to make big money in poorer countries and various other topics that we mention below. The “huh” category is reserved for pure guesswork.

Sun Valley: The stars align

Allen & Co’s 27th Sun Valley media and technology conference starts on July 7 and ends on July 12. In the meantime, expect media writers to breathlessly report, blog, tweet, photograph and record the event. Why the fuss? There are literally hundreds of people coming who are known to do nothing else than run the universe when it comes to TV shows, movies, telecoms, the Internet and all sorts of other electronic communications. We have lists of all the people who bankroll them as well, along with a list of other interesting people you will find there.

Here, meanwhile, are the big men and women of media and technology who justify the travel budgets that increasingly hard-up news organizations have to put out for your favorite folks in the press corps to hide behind the hedges and hope for a handout that will break news, move markets and excite our editors. Keep in mind: this list is not a guarantee that these people are showing up; it’s just an invitation list (arranged alphabetically by company). We’ll update it as we learn more. (Our boldface names indicate some general viewpoint that they’re the stars of the stars.)

    James McCann, CEO, 1-800-flowers.com. Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard Inc. Also Brian Kelly, co-chairman. Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com Inc. Tim Armstrong, chairman and CEO, AOL Michael Ovitz, AMSEF LLC, former uber-talent agent at Creative Artists Agency and former Walt Disney Co executive. Gerhard Zeiler, CEO, RTL Group, Bertelsmann AG. Bill and Melinda Gates, of the foundation of the same name. Bill, of course, co-founded Microsoft Corp. Mark Vadon, executive chairman, Blue Nile Inc. James Dolan, president, CEO, Cablevision Systems Corp. Leslie Moonves, president, CEO, CBS Corp. Also Neil Ashe, president, CBS Interactive. Also Quincy Smith, CEO, CBS Interactive. (And a former Allen & Co man.) Charlie Rose, interviewer and anchor on the Charlie Rose Show Anthony Bloom, Cineworld plc Richard Parsons, chairman, Citigroup Inc. Former CEO, Time Warner Inc. Lowry Mays, chairman, Clear Channel Communications Inc. Ralph Roberts, founder, chairman emeritus, Comcast Corp. Also Stephen Burke, president and COO, Comcast Cable. Patrick Condo, president, CEO, Convera Corp. Jimmy Hayes, CEO, Cox Enterprises Inc. Richard Lovett, president, Creative Artists Agency Inc. Also Bryan Lourd, managing partner. Michael Dell, chairman and CEO, Dell Inc. Richard Rosenblatt, chairman and CEO, Demand Media. He used to work at MySpace’s parent company before News Corp bought it. Chase Carey, former DirecTV CEO and Rupert Murdoch’s new No. 2 man at News Corp. John Hendricks, founder and chairman, Discovery Communications. Also president and CEO David Zaslav. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO, DreamWorks Animation SKG. John Donahoe, president and CEO, eBay Inc. Dara Khosrowshahi, president and CEO, Expedia Inc. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (We’ve heard conflicting reports about whether he’ll show. Either way, he’s still on our list.) Tom Freston, principal, Firefly3 LLC. Former Viacom executive. Martin Varsavsky, CEO, FON Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric Co. Jeff Zucker, CEO, NBC Universal. (GE) Ronald Meyer, president and COO, Universal Studios. (GE) Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Google. Also co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Juan Luis Cebrian, CEO, Grupo Prisa. Also Ignacio Polanco, chairman. Emilio Azcarraga, chairman and president, Grupo Televisa. Also Alfonso de Angoitia, executive vp. Christopher Schroeder, CEO, HealthCentral. Also former CEO of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. Cathleen Black, president, Hearst Magazines. R. Todd Bradley, executive vp, personal systems group, Hewlett-Packard Co. Also CEO Mark Hurd. Barry Diller, chairman, CEO, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Also chairman, Expedia Inc. Also Victor Kaufman, vice chairman, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman, Illyria Pty Ltd. Son of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch. Craig Barrett, former CEO, chairman, Intel Corp. Also Sean Maloney, executive vp, chief sales and marketing officer. Jeffrey Berg, chairman and CEO, International Creative Management. Also president Christopher Silbermann. Michael Volpi, formerly of Cisco Systems Inc and Joost. Eric Eisner, L+E Pictures. Son of former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner. Kevin Reilly, CEO, Lamar Advertising Co. Michael Fries, president and CEO, Liberty Global Inc. John Malone, chairman, Liberty Media Corp. Also Greg Maffei, president and CEO. Reid Hoffman, chairman, president of products, LinkedIn Corp. Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO, Loopt Inc. Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, advanced strategies and policy, Microsoft Corp. Also Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division, and Henry Vigil, senior vp, strategy and partnership. Rupert Murdoch, CEO, News Corp. Also with him is his second son, James Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp’s Europe and Asia operations. Also Jonathan Miller, News Corp’s chairman and CEO for its digital media group. Former president and COO Peter Chernin, whose last day was June 30, is coming along too, in tow with CFO David DeVoe and new MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta. Gina Bianchini, CEO, Ning Inc. Jorma Ollila, chairman, Nokia Corp. Greg Wyler, founder, O3B Networks Ltd. Jeffrey Jordan, president and CEO, OpenTable Inc. Jeffery Boyd, president and CEO, priceline.com Inc. Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe. Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm Inc. Robert Johnson, founder and chairman, the RLJ Companies. Jay Y. Lee, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Kenneth Lowe, chairman, president and CEO. Scripps Networks Interactive. Mel Karmazin, CEO, Sirius XM Radio Inc. Max Levchin, CEO, Slide Inc. Sir Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO, Sony Corp. Also Kazuo Hirai, president of networked products and services group; Robert Wiesenthal, executive vp and CFO, Sony Corporation of America; Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Hiroshi Yoshioka, executive deputy president, president of consumer products and devices group; and Nicole Seligman, top lawyer. Nick Grouf, CEO, Spot Runner Inc. Thomas Glocer, CEO, Thomson Reuters Corp, along with Niall FitzGerald, deputy chairman. Michael Eisner, the Tornante Company LLC. Former Walt Disney Co CEO. Lars Buttler, CEO, Trion World Network Inc. Evan Williams, co-founder and chairman, Twitter Inc. David Levin, CEO, United Business Media plc. James Berkus, chairman, United Talent Agency. Brad Grey, chairman and CEO, Paramount Pictures Corp (Viacom). Sumner Redstone, chairman, Viacom. Also Philippe Dauman, president and CEO. Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO, Vivendi. Robert Iger, president and CEO, Walt Disney Co. Also Thomas Staggs, CFO. Edgar Bronfman Jr, chairman and CEO, Warner Music Group. Donald Graham, chairman, CEO, The Washington Post Co. Casey Wasserman, chairman and CEO, Wasserman Media Group LLC. Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman, The Weinstein Co. Shelby Bonnie, CEO, Whiskey Media LLC. Jim Wiatt, William Morris Endeavor. Terry Semel, chairman and CEO, Windsor Media. Former Yahoo CEO. Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP. Anne Mulcahy, chairman, Xerox Corp. Jerry Yang, chief Yahoo. Mark Pincus, founder, CEO, Zynga Inc.

Sun Valley: Grand theft auto

Allen & Co’s annual Sun Valley media conference is all about deals, the Internet, media and technology, but it’s good for a few laughs as well.

Here’s the first one:

We’re waiting for various executives and moguls to show up at the entrance to the Sun Valley Lodge. It’s a gorgeous day, and we’re talking to folks as they arrive. Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, arrives in an SUV. Right after him comes Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer.

They both go and check in. Meyer comes out first, gets in Johnson’s car and drives away.

Live blogging from Sun Valley

Reuters reporters Robert MacMillan, Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic will be sending live updates from the Sun Valley gathering. Read their updates below or follow us on Twitter.

Sun Valley: Reuters returns to Idaho

Nearly every powerful media and technology executive you can think of will be camping out in the idyllic and affluent ski resort town of Sun Valley this week. They have aimed their Gulfstreams squarely at Idaho so they can show up at the 27th edition of Allen & Co’s media and technology conference, which investment banker Herb Allen holds every summer here.

That means nearly every media reporter you can think of will be hovering among the hedgerows and parking lots (and in the bar, naturally), waiting to get a few precious seconds with super-wattage movie executives from DreamWorks’s Jeffrey Katzenberg to Paramount’s Brad Grey, technology heavyweights such as Michael Dell and Bill Gates, media kingpins Philippe Dauman and Rupert Murdoch and fresh-faced startup darlings like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Evan Williams and Ning’s Gina Bianchini.

Reuters, of course, will be among the press crew at the scene. Reporters Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic will show up, as will I, and photographer Rick Wilking will be shooting the pictures that at Sun Valley often tell a more eloquent story than any text dispatch can.

Lord and his ring

ring.jpg

Attention media reporters: Rupert Murdoch, probably the most important man on your beat, has lost his wedding ring. Last seen in the Sun Valley Lodge lobby.

Murdoch stumbled out of the Lodge bar on Thursday around midnight, where a ridiculously high-powered assemblage of media and tech moguls got sloshed. Instead of making a bee-line for the exit as most of the guests were doing, Murdoch, married to third wife Wendi Deng, was spotted hunting around the lobby. He told us he had lost his wedding ring.

So began a frantic 15-minute scramble among reporters hungry to please the mogul (me included), hoping to recover the ring and land an exclusive interview. No such luck. Still missing.

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?

Yang having a bad day in Sun Valley?

Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang — the target of a proxy battle by billionaire investor Carl Icahn and a takeover offensive by Microsoft — just arrived in Sun Valley for Allen & Co’s mogul confab. It looks like he wishes he was elsewhere.

Yang was also spotted by the Sun Valley Inn with former Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons, probably asking for advice on how to handle Icahn.

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(Photo: Reuters / Rick Wilking / (l to r) Google co-founder Larry Page, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, Google co-founder Sergey Brin)