Robert's Feed
Oct 7, 2009
via MediaFile

From the desk of [your news outlet] and Scribd

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The words “Document-sharing website” probably won’t thrill too many people who aren’t stationery geeks. Nevertheless, one such website, Scribd.com, has released a new feature that could make online news reporting a more interesting experience for the journalists and the readers.But first, a dose of background: Scribd is a website that lets you do all sorts of things in publishing, including selling electronic copies of books. Some of us at Media File use it for a different purpose: embedding documents related to our reporting inside blog posts. See this blog post I wrote about pharmaceutical company Mylan’s legal tussle with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At the bottom of the page, you can see the legal documents that I wrote about in the blog post and posted by using Scribd.On Wednesday, Scribd said news outlets The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Mediabistro will use Scribd’s document reader on their sites in the same kinds of ways that I used it on Media File.Scribd is letting the sites use it for free, sensing what advertisers and publicists like to call a “branding opportunity.” The reader would include Scribd’s name on it, but also the name of the media outlet in question. Think of your personal notepaper that reads, “From the desk of…” at the top.Here’s more from Scribd’s press release:The document reader turns nearly all file types — including PDF, Word and PowerPoint — into a Web document that can be shared on Scribd.com and any website that allows embeds. It can help news organizations:

    Embed documents in news stories and add transparency to the reporting process Increase people’s time spent reading each story Increase brand recognition on and off their website through logos on the reader Retain attribution for original document uploads, regardless of where the document gets shared on the Internet Increase traffic through links back to the original story It also, Scribd said, lets people share the documents on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Now, this is not a plug for Scribd, though as I said, I do use it on the Media File blog because it’s easy enough for someone not well versed in technology. I’m writing about this because I’m curious to hear from you readers after you’ve played around with Scribd. How important will these kinds of “paper-like” developments be to online news reporting?(Graphic: Here is a sample of a document shown online via the reader)

Oct 7, 2009

Sun-Times bid blocked, private equity manager says

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A private equity manager who wanted to buy the Sun-Times Media Group said on Tuesday that his attempt to bid on the bankrupt newspaper publisher was blocked, and that he wants the court to reopen the sale process.

Thane Ritchie said he made requests to meet with the Chicago Newspaper Guild to discuss a coalition offer to buy the publisher, whose largest paper is the daily Chicago Sun-Times.

Oct 6, 2009

Playboy names president, will keep print magazine

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Playboy Enterprises Inc on Tuesday named an 11-year veteran of the adult entertainment company as president, while its chief executive vowed to keep printing its namesake magazine.

Alex Vaickus will serve as the company’s president, a new position, and will oversee all of its businesses including print, television and digital media, Playboy said in a statement.

Oct 6, 2009
via MediaFile

Welcome to Turkey, Bloomberg ‘efendim’

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It always makes me happy when one of the companies on my beat reminds me that I study Turkish for at least one practical reason. In this case, it’s our rival wire service Bloomberg, which will start broadcasting news in Turkey through local partner Ciner Media. Pronounced, more or less, “Jiner Media,” the company also publishes magazines in Turkey that include Marie Claire, Newsweek Turkey, OK! and GEO.The service will be called BloombergHT for “Haber Turk,” which translates to, “Turkish News.” The service will be a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week Turkish language financial news and business channel that will broadcast on cable and satellite in Turkey and “Turkish Republics.” I have to find out what that means, but I’m guessing it means parts of Central Asia where Turkic languages are spoken.The launch will come later this year, Bloomberg said in a statement on Tuesday. It also said that Bloomberg will retain editorial control over the channel’s business content and will provide Ciner Media with access to the Bloomberg news service and that a website will follow.This news comes months after Bloomberg held a rare round of layoffs and laid out plans to shut down some of its non-English-language TV operations around the world. Bloomberg, as we and others have reported, has been working to broaden its worldwide reach. The company, I have heard from people familiar with its thinking and also from employees, wants to raise its profile outside its hardcore financial industry subscribers and is trying to offer more news to a bigger audience to do it. Pursuing BusinessWeek is one way to do it. Another would be forging more deals like the one in Turkey — let someone else handle the distribution, and you just focus on the news. We might see more of these deals soon.UPDATE: While I’ve been obsessing over whether I’ll get to play Peter Ustinov’s part in a remake of Topkapi, Business Insider noticed some substantial changes on Bloomberg TV’s presentation for the rest of the world. In the world of financial journalism, less really is more, apparently.PS: Efendi = “lord” or “master” or a general “sir” might even do these days. “Efendim” = “My lord,” etc. and is a common form of address. For example, you might call me “Robert efendim.” Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.(Reuters Photo: Istanbul)

Oct 5, 2009

Conde Nast magazines shut as review bites

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Conde Nast will close four magazines — Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Gourmet, and Cookie — following a review the publisher undertook to find ways to reduce costs and staff in the face of a slump in advertising.

The decision is among the clearest signs yet of severe cost cuts at the publishing house best known for magazines such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue. Those cuts follow a study from McKinsey & Co consultants who were brought in by management this summer.

Oct 5, 2009

U.S. magazines plan online newsstand, led by Time

TORONTO (Reuters) – Time Inc is gathering U.S. magazine publishers to start a jointly run digital newsstand next year that would deliver their titles to mobile devices like increasingly popular electronic book readers.

Time Warner Inc is leading the effort, and has approached other big U.S. magazine publishers including Conde Nast and Hearst Corp, a source with knowledge of the joint venture but no authorization to speak about it told Reuters.

Sep 29, 2009

Bloomberg seen as top BusinessWeek bidder: source

NEW YORK (Reuters) – McGraw-Hill Cos Inc is leaning toward selling its money-losing BusinessWeek magazine to Bloomberg LP, although another bidder could still make a higher offer, a person familiar with the matter said.

A deal still could take weeks, or could fall apart because of depressed magazine advertising and uncertainty in the financing market; but BusinessWeek executives think that Bloomberg would be the best fit, the source said on Tuesday.

Sep 29, 2009

Gannett forecasts earnings beat; shares jump

NEW YORK, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Gannett Co Inc <GCI.N>
forecast stronger-than-expected quarterly results, sending
shares up nearly 19 percent, as cost cuts helped the largest
U.S. newspaper publisher soldier through a tough ad market. The announcement, which comes three weeks before Gannett plans to report third-quarter financial results, is rare for a U.S. newspaper publisher, and comes on the same day that the company said it was raising $400 million in debt. The anticipated results pleased Wall Street, which scooped up newspaper shares that have been battered in recent years as investors bet that print newspaper publishers face a bleak future in the 21st century wired world. It also forced traders who sold short the company's shares to cover their positions, which pushed the share price even higher. Still, the bright earnings report was the result of severe cost cuts. Advertising sales, the lifeblood of newspaper revenue, remain weak, leaving the companies in the unenviable position of trying to find more ways to cut costs to keep pleasing Wall Street. Gannett's forecast suggests that newspapers' third quarter results may look much like the second quarter when publishers counted on slashing jobs, salaries, travel and every other expense to scrape together better-than-expected profits. "Gannett beat the number by a yard, all on cost-cutting," said Benchmark Co analyst Ed Atorino. "Revenues are disappointing." Investors bought newspaper stocks on Tuesday, hoping for more positive profit surprises. New York Times Co <NYT.N> rose 10 percent, McClatchy Co <MNI.N> climbed 9 percent, and Lee Enterprises <LEE.N> jumped 55 percent, making it the top performer in the Standard & Poor's 500. Gannett in October plans to report a third-quarter profit of 39 cents to 42 cents a share, excluding items, compared with the 29 cents a share that analysts polled by Reuters Estimates forecast. Revenue is another matter. The publisher of USA Today projected revenue of $1.31 billion to $1.32 billion, short of the $1.37 billion Wall Street expected -- a sign that ad spending remains below what analysts had hoped. The forecast came as Gannett announced a $400 million debt offering. A tough period for print advertising, lower revenue from its digital division, and a broadcast business trying to get by without the help of political and Olympic spending are weighing on Gannett, Chief Financial Officer Gracia Martore said. But she trumpeted Gannett's cost-cutting prowess. "Our continued efforts to achieve efficiencies and further consolidations company-wide along with significantly lower newsprint expense resulted in another substantial decline in our operating expenses," she said in a statement. This summer, Gannett laid off around 1,400 workers, after several thousand layoffs last year. Other newspaper publishers have made similar reductions. Revenue remains stubbornly depressed. Industrywide, ad sales for print and online combined fell nearly 30 percent in the first and second quarters, compared with the year before, according to the Newspaper Association of America. The declines have led many experts to predict the demise of newspapers, and some publishers, including Tribune Co <TRBCQ.PK>, filed for bankruptcy. More recently, however, newspaper stocks have rallied, as their executives have seen declines easing in coming quarters. Gannett's share run on Tuesday also reflects traders trying to balance out holdings in the stock, analysts said. Traders have sold short 49 million shares, or 21 percent of the shares, making it the most-shorted U.S. newspaper stock. That means many traders have borrowed shares and sold them short, anticipating that Gannett's stock would fall and they could make a profit on their bet. Those same traders, seeing that Gannett's shares would rise after its earnings forecast, now have to cover their bets. Gannett shares were up $1.86 or 18.6 percent at $11.84 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon. (Reporting by Paul Thomasch and Robert MacMillan, editing by Maureen Bavdek, Derek Caney and Matthew Lewis)

Sep 29, 2009
via MediaFile

CNN emphasizes community with iPhone app

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Add CNN to the list of news outlets that sees at least some of its future playing out on Apple’s iPhone. The Time Warner-owned Cable News Network plans to tell the world on Tuesday about its new $1.99 iPhone application. (Expect the press release at 8 a.m. ET). They’re charging for it, betting that people will pay for news. That’s a bet that some folks — such as News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch — have been willing to make. Now CNN is making a similar bet.(PS, we were going to hold this until midnight because it was embargoed. That embargo has been broken, so bombs away.)I’ll do a rip-and-grab from the press release to highlight its features, but its most interesting one is the ability it gives its viewers/readers to be the amateur reporters in the field that more news organizations are courting:For the first time on a mobile device, the CNN App provides a direct gateway to iReport.com, allowing users to browse user-generated content; register, sign-in to their account or sign on as a guest to capture and instantly upload user-generated photos and videos (with the iPhone 3GS). Users also can browse iReport.com’s latest “assignments,” asking the community to weigh in on local and national news stories.Here is another feature that accomplishes the dual tasks of promoting the news outlet as well as the reader:

    Users can share stories via email, SMS and Twitter, as well as Facebook Connect by posting a story directly to their wall.

The “app” adds CNN to the list of news organizations that are betting on increasing consumption of their news by people touting mobile devices. So far, these include The Associated Press, Bloomberg and The New York Times. There also is The Wall Street Journal, whose ultimate boss, News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, already has made clear that you’re going to pay for the news that you get on your smartphones, unless you already buy the print edition AND the online edition.My question: How, in the end, will CNN and its brethren turn this into an opportunity to make some money? Can mobile advertising bring in the cash? Or is mobile bound to remain a mostly promotional tool, no matter how many people use it?Meanwhile, here are the other features, slightly rewritten and shortened from the press release copy:

    Users can flick through news stories across categories. Additionally, when the device is rotated horizontally, stories can be flipped through quickly. Each story features bulleted highlights above the full article, designed to satisfy mobile “snackers,” allowing them to scan through the latest stories, as well as meet the needs of users who want the whole story. Local news, weather and traffic based on user’s actual location or the ability to select a specific location. Ability to “follow” a story or topic: As CNN publishes breaking news alerts or new stories related to a chosen topic, the app will push the updates to the device. “Saved” content, which enables users to access text stories even when they’re offline.

(Reuters Photo: Picture Spanish director Pedro Almodovar… as a CNN iPhone app.)

Sep 24, 2009
via MediaFile

Talk, scratch head, talk some more (The future of news)

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I got this invitation in my e-mail this week:Because press space at the invitation-only event is extremely limited, kindly contact me as soon as possible to secure a seat.Following is background on the event:

WHAT: A unique invitation-only gathering of more than 100 senior leaders from media and technology, the UCBerkeley Media Technology Summit is being organized by the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. The summit, which will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at the Googleplex, is intended to provide the leaders of traditional media companies with new insights into the technologies, consumer behavior and advertising systems that will affect their businesses at a time of momentous change (Sounds like the latest opportunity to smack around traditional media companies for being traditional, no? — ed). The Koret Foundation, Google and the McCormick Foundation are generously sponsoring the event.

I got my invitation from Alan Mutter, who blogs about the future of the news business at Reflections of a Newsosaur and someone whom I frequently ask for expert comments for my news stories. Because it’s from Alan, I know it will be interesting, and I wish I could attend (I’ll be in Toronto on covert military maneuvers for the Parti Quebecois for the Thomson Reuters investor day at the time).One thing strikes me, however, and it’s been on my mind all summer: We need to come up with some answers about how to keep the news business alive in the 21st century. So far, the cycle tends to be: talk, scratch head, talk some more, scratch head, ask questions, blame newspapers for everything, blame the media, talk, scratch head, lay off some staff… and it goes on and on. Is this event really going to change anything?If nothing else, it has an impressive list of companies that are attending (UPDATE: Mutter’s e-mail says that folks are coming from companies “such as” the ones listed below which means that maybe none of them will come! Thanks to Dan Hayes at Lee Enterprises for pointing this out. ). UPDATE 2: Alan Mutter tells me that people from the companies listed in the initial e-mail are registered to come. I’m sorry for saying in what I thought was a lighthearted manner that folks might not come. Alan is an honest operator and one of the smartest guys in the room when it comes to the future of news, and whatever happens at the conference, it’s going to be interesting. It also will feature former News Corp No. 2 Peter Chernin, a media vice president from Microsoft and even a Thomson Reuters VP for Semantic Technologies. Here’s the whole list so you can see exactly how many hands will be scratching their heads (they represent traditional media, tech companies, startups, universities and more):Advance Publications, BusinessWeek, Cable News Network, CBS, Comcast, Community Newspaper Holdings, Emmis Broadcasting, E.W. Scripps, Fox Television Networks, Hearst Corp, Lee Enterprises, McClatchy Co, MediaNews Group, MSNBC, National Public Radio, News Corp, New York Times Co, Schibsted, Thomson Reuters, Times Publishing Co, Tribune Co, U.S. News and World Report, Village Voice Media, Wired Magazine and Yahoo. Also: the Center for Investigative Reporting, Chi-Town Daily News, Everyblock.Com, Google News, Internet Archive, MinnPost, New America Media, PaidContent.Org, Pegasus News, Salon Media Group, San Diego News Network, Texas Tribune, True/Slant and West Seattle Blog, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Truviso, YuMe, Starcom MediaVest, Austin Ventures, Piper Jaffray, Berkeley, Harvard, MIT.