Van Susteren’s justifiable rage offers a clear lesson in media branding
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Greta Van Susteren is unemployed but unbowed and taking to Facebook. She's right when it comes to the merits of her argument and notable in choosing her venue.
The former longtime Fox News host, who split amid the Roger Ailes sex harassment mess, posted a video expressing outrage with President Obama and the Justice Department for not indicting Wells Fargo executives for the outrageous scamming of consumers that resulted in regulatory fines of $185 million. Employees opened about 1.5 million bank accounts and applied for 565,000 credit cards not approved by customers. (USA Today)
"OK, you have every right to be enraged," she says in a home video whose modest production values resemble those of celebrity leaker Edward Snowden's early Hong Kong Period. "I am. It just never stops. And you and every other American gets cheated. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Obama administration is once again letting you down. It happens again and again. And it's disgraceful. It's actually indecent."
Instead of being indicted, or even fired, the executive who ran the guilty division will retire with $124 million in stock, options and shares in the company. As Nell Minow, a prominent corporate governance expert, put it to me, "This is truly an outrage. It’s the exact same problem that got Sears Auto Repair and the subprime derivatives into trouble: paying people for the quantity of transactions and not the quality. The CEO should be fired, and the board members on the risk and compensation committees should resign."
Then there's Van Susteren's new vehicle for opining and potentially luring a chunk of her old audience (in the first 13 hours the video was up, she got 720,000 views). As Carol Fowler, a former news director at two major Chicago TV stations and now a consultant on branding and social media, says, "Using Facebook to stay connected and in view on news of the day makes perfect sense for Greta — or anyone else who loses their traditional stage. Smart."
"And in Greta's case, she clearly worked hard in her role at Fox News to build a Facebook (and Twitter) following, so why not? No one expects polish in the social space, so lacking a teleprompter is not a big deal. Go Greta!"
Are you ready for some editorializing?
At the end of last night's Monday Night Football game between Pittsburgh and Washington, as I was relishing the Redskins getting embarrassed at home, analyst Jon Gruden decided to sing the praises of Alejandro Villanueva, a Steelers offensive lineman. He's a former Army Ranger in Afghanistan who won a Bronze Star. "I like looking out there, that Villanueva, that left tackle, Army Ranger. All the publicity surrounding the National Anthem over the weekend. How bout what he stands for and how he played tonight?"
Play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough continued the refrain: "Three tours in Afghanistan and sings every word of the National Anthem, and he did again tonight." The insinuation was clear about those who wouldn't sing it. Left unmentioned, assuming their pregame homework was extensive, is that Villanueva disagrees with San Francisco's quarterback Colin Kaepernick's much-chronicled decision "but stands by the San Francisco 49ers quarterback saying racial injustice is a problem in the United States." (Penn Live)
Twitter's new partner
Cheddar is a terrific new online platform dispensing financial news for millennials in smart, fun ways. And Twitter will now be the exclusive, free platform for a new Cheddar "Closing Bell" show (from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern) from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter CFO Anthony Noto announced the news on Cheddar Monday. It will also be a free platform for Cheddar's existing "Opening Bell" show (9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.). Noto said, "It's another step in our broader strategy of live-streaming content...There's nothing more live than the stock market." (Facebook)
Tweet of the day
David Axelrod, the CNN analyst and former Barack Obama political strategist, left no doubt Monday that Team Obama's qualms, even outright animus toward Hillary Clinton during their 2008 presidential clash remain in some ways. In a shot across the political bow, he tweeted, "Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What's the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?" (@davidaxelrod)
No surprise, Gawker workers pissed
Univision bought troubled Gawker Media for $135 million and last week decided to ditch six posts previously published on Gawker sites but which are involved in ongoing litigation. John Cook, Gawker's executive editor, disagreed but lost the battle. Now his staff has formally condemned the move. (Poynter)
Luring readers to The Daily Beast
It "lures 40 percent of its 22 million monthly readers to its homepage, and it drives 44 percent of its traffic every month from direct visits, up from just 28 percent two years ago. While the Beast gets its fair share of traffic from Google and Facebook, it focuses more on getting those readers back via email (its subscriber base has doubled in the past year) and its app than on maximizing the reach of content it publishes elsewhere." (Digiday)
Clinton pneumonia contagious for cable news
As the sun rose in the East, again, "Fox & Friends" was undisguised in its derision toward Clinton, again. It chided her declaring that her pneumonia was "no big deal." Live from Chappaqua, New York, where the Clintons primarily live, Fox reporter Mike Emanuel opened, "It's not the cough, it's the cover-up." Steve Doocy held aloft the tabloid New York Post, like Fox owned by Rupert Murdoch, and relished a headline, "She skipped ER to Dodge the Media."
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" went on a riff about policy, or the lack of same being discussed on the campaign. It claimed that a combo of the candidates' self-inflicted wounds and a media penchant to talk incessantly about matters like her emails result in a "policy-free campaign," if one discounts whatever is found on their respective websites. Of course, the very lucrative show could morph, if desired, into a combo of C-SPAN and a cerebral, polysyllable-filed luncheon forum at the Brookings Institution. Its ratings might then suffer the fate of Trevor Noah's on "The Daily Show" now that Jon Stewart is gone. Well, at least there was a brief segment this morning on the inherently tenuous Syrian ceasefire bargained by the U.S. and Russia. Don't look for an hour on it tomorrow.
On CNN, media reporter Brian Stelter and Frank Sesno, the network's former bureau chief, discussed the press and the campaign, touching upon the limited amount of spontaneous interaction each shows with the media. Ditto the much-mentioned fact that what one doesn't know about Trump dwarfs what one doesn't know about Clinton, whether it concerns his own health or past bankruptcies (we're all on unavoidable auto-pilot on that refrain). As The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein put it a bit earlier, "Her best defense is the comparison to Donald Trump, be it her health or her taxes."
A family tale
Kelley and Tom French, former reporters at the St. Petersburg-turned-Tampa Bay Times in Florida, co-authored a new book, "Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon" (Little Brown). He's a Pulitzer winner, she's a former finalist, and their work expands on a deeply personal series she did at the paper. As the online National Book Review puts it, "Their baby girl weighed 570 grams — the equivalent of $2.28 in pennies, a bottle of Gatorade, a woman’s left lung, or a raw bone-in rib eye. The Frenches include these sorts of vivid details in this account of their daughter’s battle to survive as a micro-preemie who spent much of her first year in a neonatal intensive care unit." (National Book Review)
Important news for self-obsessed journalists
"Twitter is about to make a big change to the way that tweets work, The Verge can independently confirm. Beginning September 19th, the company will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages." (The Verge) Lucky us, more polls that journalists can opine about (largely to one another).
Facebook's latest nude girl photo fix
First there was the flap over Facebook eliminating an iconic Vietnam War photo in Norway. (The Wall Street Journal) Now it's "lost a legal bid to prevent a 14-year-old girl from suing the company over a naked picture of her that was posted on a 'shame page' on the site as an act of revenge." (Business Insider) It's a case based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and The Belfast Telegraph writes, "Lawyers for the child argue that the site is liable for a picture they say was blackmailed from her and then posted on Facebook without her permission. It was posted repeatedly on a range of pages on Facebook, the case argues. The girl is taking legal action against Facebook as well as against the man who posted the photo." (The Telegraph)
Now you see it, now you don't
Ah, the newspaper industry. The American Society of Newspaper Editors has now given up on counting job losses. (Poynter) As Alan Mutter, a longtime industry analyst, puts it, "We know things have been quite bad for newspapers for the last decade but no longer have the objective and uniform data necessary to measure the degree or velocity of the decline."
Meanwhile, the Newspaper Association of America disclosed it's ditching "Newspaper" and calling itself the News Media Alliance on Wednesday. This rebranding comes years after a decision, made in 2013, to stop compiling and releasing industry ad revenue figures. Meanwhile, Mutter last week pointed out to me how, in revising its website, the association apparently has removed all the historical revenue and circulation data that it had published since 1950. Those obviously show a stunning plunge.
David Chavern, who heads the association, says, "Yes, there is a lot of historic data that is no longer readily available on the site, and that it for technical reasons. The biggest complaint with the previous site was slow load times, and the primary reason for that was a clunky and over-built CMS that was designed to manage all of this historic data.
The data was a good resource for academics and others, but it was rarely used by members "and really screwed-up the user experience on the site," Chavern said.
"I made the decision to separate the data from the website in order to vastly improve the user experience for our members. If someone has an academic or other need for the data and they aren't a member, please just direct them to Jim Conaghan at the Alliance and we can try and help them out," Chavern said.
Basketball and barbecue
"Not even two months after the NBA yanked the 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte in response to a controversial bill passed by the North Carolina General Assembly, NCAA officials have made a similar decision." (Yahoo) "They announced Monday evening that they’re relocating all seven championship events previously awarded to North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year," including first-and second-round games of the March Madness men's basketball tournament. As Raleigh, North Carolina columnist Luke DeCock puts it this morning, "It used to be basketball and barbecue were the two areas where North Carolinians shared common ground regardless of politics. Now we’re down to barbecue." (News & Observer)