Will Vice News really ‘see the world differently five nights a week?’
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"We interrupt your regularly scheduled worldview," begins the first ad for Vice Media's upcoming evening newscast on HBO meant to attract exactly the sort of younger audience turned off by most traditional newscasts, being they national or local, broadcast or cable. (Ad Age) "No anchors...no sponsors...no censors...from the streets...from the sources...without the talking heads...the world is changing...the news is too."
"This is not the nightly news," says the disembodied voice. "This is Vice News tonight....See the world differently five nights a week" There are images of explosions and a gay pride parade, among others, and talk of "journalism without the makeup."
At first glance, it might remind a few of the original marketing thrust (albeit horrendously executed) of the now-defunct Al Jazeera America. That, too, was aimed to be from the streets, without the razzle-dazzle to which we're accustomed and actually filled with idiosyncratic and gritty stories — as is much of Al Jazeera's remaining (often excellent) worldwide broadcasts.
A difference, however, is that Vice Media is targeting a much younger group and, so far, has been pretty successful in doing so. The investment dollars have poured in. Can HBO and Vice beat the seeming odds, Bobbi Brown eye makeup or no eye makeup? Will the ad's apparently earnest pandering, occasionally bordering on cliche, work with the target group? I asked the young manager of a bunch of millennials at one major digital operation and he said, "I work with and manage a ton of millennials that care about news, and...many of them love earnest things that fit their worldview and don't really notice when they're being pandered to. I think they might want this."
I showed the ad, too, to Mike Fourcher, a bright digital news entrepreneur in Chicago. "Entertaining, but will it be as informational?"
"The problem news has is not content quality, it's how it's consumed. Homepages are dead, and the television equivalent of the homepage is the regularly scheduled broadcast. I have no doubt segments of the show will captivate, just as YouTube clips of Jimmy Fallon often capture a large audience, or even whole episodes of "Frontline" do online. But will people regularly tune in? I don't have much confidence in that outcome. Americans, not just millennials, have the ability to choose their media cafeteria-style now, and they're not going back."
HBO and Vice can at least be assured of a rather quiet launch as they deal with any early kinks. It starts Monday, Sept. 26, which also brings the first presidential debate and our weekly national rite of watching grown men suffer concussions and torn ACLs (Monday Night Football on ESPN).
And, if it wants to avoid assuring ignominy, hold off on inviting me as a pundit-guest. I believe I hold a cable news world record, having been a guest on the final episodes of at least seven shows. Millennials, beware.
Trump goes to Detroit
He'll be at a Black church Saturday, attending a service and doing a to-be-released-later interview with the minister, which prompts my eliciting the early takes from four Detroit experts: Steve Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press; USA Today reporter Nathan Bomey, who wrote a book on the city's financial debacle; author and journalism professor Tom Stanton, who wrote a book on The Black Legion terrorist group there in the 1930s; and Ron Fournier, the long-Chicago based editor-columnist who is returning home to be associate editor of Crain's Detroit business.
They all find the Trump trek intriguing but, by and large, a fool's errand. Says the Pulitzer Prize-winning Henderson: "It's not that Donald Trump is disingenuous about his intentions; it's that he's maybe the most disingenuous candidate, ever, to extend a hand to cities like Detroit and to black voters. It's really outrageous." (U.S. News & World Report)
Tucker Carlson's FBI suspicions
"Did you ever think the FBI was on the level?" "Fox & Friends" substitute co-host Tucker Carlson asked this morning, clearly rhetorically amid disclosure of new Hillary Clinton State Department emails on Benghazi. "The whole thing makes you feel like the system is not on the level. I hate that. It's depressing." Lest he begin his morning in such seemingly deep melancholia, Fox then segued to what it deemed good election news, including the victory of anti-immigration Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.
Meanwhile, over at CNN's "New Day," co-host Chris Cuomo served as a sort of anti-Tucker Carlson on Benghazi emails; not quite sure "what could be in there that would change the race" and dubious that they posed any "potential bombshells" (two words he placed in quotes with his fingers to more vividly intimate he doesn't buy the notion).
The Post on The Times on Hillary
The Washington Post and Huffington Post find it news that the rival New York Times' editorial board "on Tuesday called for the Clintons to scale back the activities of the Clinton Foundation — starting now." (The Washington Post)
And why is that? Says The Post: "The move is a significant one, given the Times editorial board carries significant heft on the American left and is hardly an anti-Clinton source." Presumably the same might be said of the two Posts and their decision to write pieces about somebody else's editorial calling for, well, you get it.
Nevertheless, a day later it was grist for the cable news mill, including MSNBC's "Morning Joe" this morning. Said commentator Mike Barnicle, "The Clintons have always operated under the premise, look we're going to do good things, so don't worry about us...stop questioning our motives."
When you want to convince the boss to let you work from home...
No single issue was a bigger pain in the neck for me as a boss than folks who wanted to work from home, often citing colleagues who had special deals. Now there's a really good card to play, namely the Kearney card. As I learned, longtime New England newspaper editor Tom Kearney is editing three local Vermont papers and several related magazines...from Philadelphia.
Marriage took him there, though he does go back to Vermont once a month. But, by and large, he's more than 400 miles away and, seemingly, pulling it off. My rigorous reporting including checking out the papers' content this week. There's even word of 1970s rocker Todd Rundgren taking over the entire fabled Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, founded and long run by the Von Trapps from "The Sound of Music." He's hosting a rock ’n’ roll retreat he bills as the “TyRolean Getaway.” Perhaps someone will hear him doing "Hello It's Me" (1972) in the shower.
The new sports journalism
Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs is one of baseball's best pitchers, even if not quite the impregnable force he was last season. Now, Fangraphs, a metrics-driven site, gives us graphs and video charting explanations for his slight dropoff. It includes his "10-Game wOBA vs. Lefties," "10-Game Rolling Strike Rate vs. Lefties," "10-Game Rolling K-BB% Vs. Lefties" and "10-Game Rolling Hard-Hit Rate Vs. Lefties." (Fangraphs)
A very long (ah, really long) analysis notes, among other matters, how "Arrieta ranked in the 83rd percentile in lowest average launch angle, and he ranked in the 85th percentile in lowest average exit velocity. This season, his percentile rankings are 50th and 59th, respectively. In other words, they’re unremarkable. Lefties have been better able to lift the ball, and they’ve been better able to drive the ball. That’s bad, especially when combined with the changes in strikeouts and walks. It’s pretty clear to see how Arrieta is locating differently."
Got that? He lives down the block, so I'll ask about launch angle if I run into him.
What an ISIS death means, if anything
What does the death of an ISIS big cheese, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, its spokesman, mean? It "could have significant implications for the group as it pivots from seizing territory in the Middle East to launching attacks on Western targets." (Business Insider) "This is a really big blow for ISIS," an observer said. (NBC) It could "damage the Islamic State in two areas that have made the terrorist organization particularly dangerous: its sophisticated use of social media to reach a global audience and its willingness to employ the crudest forms of violence in scattered plots outside Iraq and Syria." (The Washington Post)
Then there was this proper cautionary note: "Even as the Islamic State has lost territory on the battlefields in Iraq and Syria, it has continued to press its terror attacks abroad seemingly unabated." (The New York Times)
Now here's some writing
Sidney Herbert Sime was a prominent British magazine illustrator-turned-oil painter at the turn of the last century. His work is captured in a new digital publication, Art UK. Now imagine if most journalists could write in a fashion akin to what Sime captured, at least according to H. P. Lovecraft’s 1926 “Pickman’s Model,” where Sime is cited as an artist who “knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear — the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness.” (Hyperallergic)
Wanna get rich from your bedroom?
Cheddar, a new financial operation for a far-younger-than-CNBC set, did a nifty interview with David Uzumaki, whose 8Gaming video game parody channel has more than two million Facebook fans. He Skyped from his office, which is also the dinky and crowded bedroom he lives in at his parents home in Dublin, Ireland. He's 18, studying computer science in college and apparently making a nice chunk of dough, including off Google ads.
But Cheddar founder and co-host Jon Steinberg quickly realized that Uzumaki is relatively inexperienced when it comes to turning a buck. He doesn't have a bigshot sponsor yet, prompting an on-the-spot offer from Steinberg, who does the show from the New York Stock Exchange floor. "I'll get you a sponsor this week, I'll take care of it, I'll get you 100 grand a month. Your fans are heavily engaged...you're an entrepreneur, man." He also noted low Irish tax rates, making 8Gaming a potentially lucrative takeover target. (Cheddar)
Another headquarters sold
When what was Tribune Co. was split into separate TV and newspaper operations, the newspaper guys got screwed as the TV folks, now called Tribune Media, took along a variety of major, very profitable assets that were birthed on the newspaper side. It also took the real estate, the jewel being the company's iconic Chicago headquarters.
It's now selling it for $240 million. You can envision the new owners giving the Chicago Tribune tenants an offer they can refuse and, at some point, the most famous habitué of the 740,000-square foot building dating to 1925 heading elsewhere. (Crain's)
Tribune Media "has been selling a number of its properties, including the historic Los Angeles Times building near City Hall and the Olympic printing plant in downtown L.A., to boost its flagging stock. The stock, which set a low on Feb. 11, closed Tuesday at $39.01, up 15 percent for the year." (The Wall Street Journal)
"Coming of age in the shadow of Chernobyl"
Photojournalist Niels Ackermann "went to Ukraine for the first time in 2009 somewhat by accident. He yearned to photograph in Russia, but it was too expensive for his budget as a university student in his hometown, Geneva. Flights to Kiev were cheaper than to Moscow, and no visa was needed." (The New York Times)
He covered the early stages of the Maidan revolution but "his main project has been photographing young people coming of age in Slavutich, a planned community for workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, built after the accident there in 1986." Most of those he's followed have married, have families and, he says, are “building their own future in a city that does not really have a future.”
A great photojournalist
Marc Riboud, a protégé of the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson, died in Paris at 93 of Alzheimer's. His career "carried him routinely to turbulent places throughout Asia and Africa in the 1950s and ’60s, but he may be best remembered for two photographs taken in the developed world.
The first, from 1953, is of a workman poised like an angel in overalls between a lattice of girders while painting the Eiffel Tower — one hand raising a paintbrush, one leg bent in a seemingly Chaplinesque attitude. The second, from 1967, is of a young woman presenting a flower to a phalanx of bayonet-wielding members of the National Guard during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration at the Pentagon." (The New York Times) Even into his late 80s, he apparently started his day "by loading film into his Canon EOS 300."