Journalists reflect on Ben Bradlee’s life and career

The editor who presided over the rise of The Washington Post and the fall of a president died Tuesday at 93. Here’s what journalists are saying about Bradlee’s legendary life and career:

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Ben Bradlee dead at 93

FILE - In this June 21, 1971 file photo, Washington Post Executive Director Ben Bradlee and Post Publisher Katharine Graham leave U.S. District Court in Washington. Bradlee died Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, according to the Washington Post. (AP Photo, File)

FILE – In this June 21, 1971 file photo, Washington Post Executive Director Ben Bradlee and Post Publisher Katharine Graham leave U.S. District Court in Washington. Bradlee died Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, according to the Washington Post. (AP Photo, File)

The Washington Post | The New Yorker | Time

Ben Bradlee, editor of The Washington Post from 1965 to 1991, died on Tuesday at 93 of natural causes, former managing editor Robert G. Kaiser wrote for the Post.

Bradlee’s time as editor of the Post included coverage of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers — still some of journalism’s biggest stories.

During his tenure, a paper that had previously won just four Pulitzer Prizes, only one of which was for reporting, won 17 more, including the Public Service award for the Watergate coverage.

“Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor,” said Donald E. Graham, who succeeded his mother as publisher of The Post and Mr. Bradlee’s boss.

“So much of The Post is Ben,” Mrs. Graham said in 1994, three years after Bradlee retired as editor. “He created it as we know it today.”

David Remnick wrote about Bradlee’s death for The New Yorker.

Recently, Tom Zito, a feature writer and critic at the Post during the Bradlee era, told me this story:

“One afternoon in the fall of 1971, I was summoned to Ben’s office. I was the paper’s rock critic at the time. A few minutes earlier, at the Post’s main entrance, a marshal from the Department of Justice had arrived, bearing a grand-jury subpoena in my name. As was the case ever since the Department of Justice and the Post had clashed over the Pentagon Papers, earlier that year, rules about process service dictated that the guard at the front desk call Bradlee’s office, where I was now sitting and being grilled about the business of the grand jury and its potential impact on the paper. I explained that my father was of Italian descent, lived in New Jersey, had constructed many publicly financed apartment buildings—and was now being investigated by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York regarding income-tax evasion. ‘Your father?’ Ben exclaimed in disbelief, and then called out to his secretary, ‘Get John Mitchell on the phone.’ In less than a minute, the voice of the Attorney General could be heard on the speaker box, asking, somewhat curtly, ‘What do you want, Ben?’ In his wonderfully gruff but patrician demeanor, and flashing a broad smile to me, Ben replied, ‘What I want is for you to never again send a subpoena over here asking any of my reporters to give grand-jury testimony about their parents. And if you do, I’m going to personally come over there and shove it up your ass.’ The subpoena was quashed the next day.”

The Post has quotes on Bradlee from a number of its stars, including Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

“Ben was a true friend and genius leader in journalism. He forever altered our business. His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit. He had the courage of an army. Ben had an intuitive understanding of the history of our profession, its formative impact on him and all of us. But he was utterly liberated from that. He was an original who charted his own course. We loved him deeply, and he will never be forgotten or replaced in our lives.”

On October 3, Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, wrote about Bradlee for Time, including how he weathered the scandal after it was revealed that Pulitzer winner Janet Cooke made up the work that won her that Pulitzer.

During that time Ben showed what he was made of. He had to return a Pulitzer Prize that Cooke had won about a made up 8-year-old heroin addict. He had to invite his boss, Donald Graham, to have breakfast at his house and tell him that he and his vaunted team of all-stars, made famous in the movie All the President’s Men, had failed the Graham family. He had to face his own crushed newsroom and, ultimately, the Post’s disappointed readers.

This would surely have brought down any other editor. So why did Ben Bradlee survive and triumph? It wasn’t simply because he was so powerful or well connected, having transformed the Post during Watergate into a national newspaper and showcase for the blazingly talented writers he hired and nurtured. Bob Woodward tried to explain Ben’s durability after the top editors at the Times lost their jobs in the Jayson Blair scandal. “Bradlee was a great editor and loved by everybody,” Woodward said. “Not just the people who knew him well, but down the ranks.”

On Tuesday night, journalists shared quotes from Bradlee on Twitter.


Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, seated during an event sponsored by The Washington Post to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate Monday, June 11, 2012 at the Watergate office building in Washington. Bradlee died on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, seated during an event sponsored by The Washington Post to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate Monday, June 11, 2012 at the Watergate office building in Washington. Bradlee died on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Poynter to host African journalists turned away from USF St. Petersburg

The Poynter Institute will host a group of Edward R. Murrow journalists from African countries whose visit to the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg was canceled because of concerns about spread of the Ebola virus, Poynter president Tim Franklin announced today.

In an impromptu meeting, Franklin told Poynter staff that the decision to host the journalists — who are not from Ebola-affected countries — is rooted in the best traditions of the institute.

“Poynter has a long history and tradition of inclusion, it has a long history of training journalists, both here and abroad, and I think in that spirit, it’s something we can and should do at Poynter,” Franklin said.

The journalists were scheduled to visit USF St. Petersburg for five days starting Oct. 31 as part of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, which brings 100 international journalists to the United States annually. University administrators canceled that visit, citing “concerns about transmission of Ebola virus

RELATED: “Covering Ebola: A Poynter Conversation”

The university’s decision to cancel the program Friday was motivated by worries from faculty, students and staff, said Jessica Blais, director of communications for the university and former director of marketing for the Poynter Institute.

“One of the things we’ve emphasized to people over the last couple of days is that given concerns of faculty, students and staff, we really did not feel confident that we could present the program in the excellent form that we’ve provided in the past,” Blais said.

On Monday, a few days after USF St. Petersburg finalized its decision not to host the event, World Partnerships Inc., a not-for-profit state department grantee that handles logistics and travel arrangements for the Murrow Program, reached out to Poynter and asked whether the institute would consider hosting the program. On Tuesday afternoon, the institute agreed to host the journalists for three days, starting Oct. 31 and continuing to Nov. 4.

Although the not-for-profit got fairly short notice to find a host for the journalists, it’s used to adapting on the fly, said Gary Springer, president of World Partnerships Inc. The company often has to accommodate travel plans for many such international trips at once.

“We run programs and groups through here almost every week,” Springer said.

The list of journalists visiting St. Petersburg has been altered slightly since the university’s cancellation Friday. On Monday, the U.S. Department of State decided two journalists — from Liberia and Sierra Leone — would have their trip placed on hold because they come from areas affected by the outbreak, said Nathan Arnold, a spokesperson from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

When news of the university’s cancellation was made public Monday, several people from Poynter suggested that the institute host the Murrow group, said Kelly McBride, vice president of academic programs at the institute.

“It seemed like the right thing to do, and I was really proud that people wanted to step up and do this,” McBride said. Read more

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Poynter’s News University to host a live conversation on covering Ebola

Nurse Barbara Smith practices proper hand hygiene while demonstrating the the use of personal protective equipment when dealing with Ebola during an education session in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. Thousands of participants, mostly health care workers, attended the session to review basic facts about Ebola and updated guidelines for protection against its spread. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Nurse Barbara Smith practices proper hand hygiene while demonstrating the the use of personal protective equipment when dealing with Ebola during an education session in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. Thousands of participants, mostly health care workers, attended the session to review basic facts about Ebola and updated guidelines for protection against its spread. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Poynter’s News University will host a live conversation at 10:30 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, October 23, on covering Ebola.

The discussion, which is free, includes Poynter’s Kelly McBride and Tom Huang with The Dallas Morning News. I’ll be hosting the conversation.

Questions we’ll take on include the following (from the conversation’s description):

How to cover the topic with context and accuracy
How to debunk myths about the Ebola virus
How to find untold stories
Ways you can localize the story for your community

What do you want to know about covering Ebola? Email me or tweet questions and I’ll try and work them in. An archived replay will be available after the session. You can follow the conversation on Twitter with #CoveringEbola. For more, visit News University’s Covering Ebola page.

And here’s a quick look at some of the ways we’ve covered Ebola so far at Poynter.

The readers’ quick guide for understanding a medical crisis

When writing about Ebola, what images should you use?

Journalists struggle to balance reporting on Ebola with HIPAA

From Dallas, 5 tips on covering Ebola

How journalists covering the Ebola outbreak try to stay safe


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Times-Picayune will close New Orleans print facility, print in Alabama

The Times-Picayune

The Times-Picayune will close its New Orleans print facility and print in Alabama, it announced Tuesday. About 100 production jobs will be lost, but none from the newsroom, the Advance-owned paper says.

Ray Massett, the general manager of Advance Central Services Louisiana, says Advance Central Services Alabama will print the Picayune in Mobile, Alabama. The move “will reduce print-related costs, improve efficiencies and allow for greater use of color in the pages of The Times-Picayune,” the report says.

ACS Alabama handles printing and packaging for The Times-Picayune’s sister paper, The Press-Register. Massett added that printing remotely is commonplace at many newspapers that formerly housed their presses near their newsrooms.

Masset also said the building housing the current print facilities “may be donated to a nonprofit institution in the community.” Read more

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Tribune Publishing will reportedly buy Sun-Times’ suburban papers

Robert Feder

Tribune Publishing will buy 38 suburban papers owned by Chicago Sun-Times parent Wrapports LLC, Robert Feder reports.

“We do not comment on speculation,” Matthew Hutchison, a spokesperson for Tribune Publishing, told Poynter.

Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin said in July that purchasing “smaller newspapers in or near his existing markets” would be part of the recently spun-off company’s strategy. Since the year began, Tribune’s Baltimore Sun Media Group bought the Baltimore City Paper as well as two other Maryland papers, The Capital in Annapolis and the Carroll County Times.

Last year Wrapports launched a hyperlocal service called Aggrego, which it said at the time could provide content that would back in to the Sun-Times Media Group’s papers. The Sun-Times has not replied for a request for comment about the sale report and what that might mean for Aggrego. Read more

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How a Florida reporter got Jack Kerouac’s last interviews

Tampa Bay Times

Last year, the Tampa Bay Times (which Poynter owns) reran this story by reporter Jack McClintock, who spent time with Jack Kerouac in St. Petersburg, Florida, where Kerouac was living with his mother. The article ran on Oct. 12, 1969. Kerouac died on Oct. 21, 45 years ago today. “According to Kevin Hayes, author of the book Conversations With Jack Kerouac, McClintock’s interviews were Kerouac’s last,” the story says.

McClintock returned to Kerouac’s home several times to report the story. Here’s the end of that piece:

Kerouac wanted to talk about the article he had written, which was selling rather well to Sunday magazines in major cities in the U.S.

“It’s about the Communist conspiracy,” he said. He eyed the reporter narrowly, and when satisfied with the lack of response, began to read. The article was typed on yellow legal paper. He read with broad, wild gestures, grinning and mugging and assuming various foreign accents. The voice went up high, dropped confidentially low. It sped along, it dragged portentously. And the words had an unusual eloquence, the allusions were astonishingly erudite, the sounds made a lush and rich cadence, all coming from this man with bare feet and two days’ growth of salt-and-pepper whiskers.

It was a wondrous performance, so much so that the reporter came away without the vaguest notion of what the article might have been about.

“I’m glad to see you ’cause I’m very lonesome here,” he said, and then talked for a moment about the proposed new novel.

“Stories of the past,” said Jack Kerouac. “My story is endless. I put in a teletype roll, you know, you know what they are, you have them in newspapers, and run it through there and fix the margins and just go, go – just go, go, go.”

Author Jack Kerouac laughs during a 1967 visit to the home of a friend in Lowell, Mass. (AP Photo/Stanley Twardowicz)

Author Jack Kerouac laughs during a 1967 visit to the home of a friend in Lowell, Mass. (AP Photo/Stanley Twardowicz)

In March of last year, Times’ reporter Ben Montgomery wrote about the house in St. Pete where Kerouac lived.

There’s not much left of Kerouac here, save some stories and old acquaintances and a favorite bar stool or two. And this house.

His mother died not long after Jack, and Stella passed in 1990, but the house has been mostly empty of humans since the ’70s. To walk inside is to be transported back 40 years. Tchotchkes from the era line the shelves. A ’72 Chevy Caprice sits on flats in the two-car garage. A Reader’s Digest from September 1967 sits on the record cabinet. A 1969 telephone directory for Lowell, Mass., is shelved on Kerouac’s desk in the bedroom. A Boone’s Farm box is in a closet. An official mayoral proclamation for “Jack Kerouac Day” in Lowell, Mass., hangs on one wall, near a Buddha statue and a crucifix.

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Heat mag to Jessica Biel: Sorry we made up your quotes. Also that JT ‘gets flirty’

The Guardian | Irish Times

Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake settled a defamation suit with a celebrity magazine in Ireland, The Guardian reported on Tuesday. A September edition of Heat quotes Biel and writes about Timberlake’s behavior at a nightclub in Paris. Irish Times reports that Heat is published by Bauer Consumer Media, a German company.

From The Guardian:

In the agreed statement read in the high court, a lawyer for the Bauer group admitted the article – headlined “Justin Timberlake gets flirty with another woman, “It is not his wife!” and “The flirty photos that rocked Justin and Jessica’s marriage” – was based on an unfounded report.

The article also included purported statements improperly attributed to Biel which the publishers said Heat now understands the actor never made.

Irish Times reported that the couple was satisfied with the ruling. And don’t mess with their marriage.

(Solicitor Paul Tweed) said the couple will not be making any further comment in relation to the matter. However, he added, they will “not hesitate to take similar legal action if false allegations regarding the state of their marriage are repeated”.

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Career Beat: Ad Age gets new editorial director

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Eli Lake is leaving The Daily Beast, where he’s a national security correspondent. Josh Rogin is leaving The Daily Beast, where he’s a senior correspondent. (Huffington Post)
  • Simon Dumenco is editorial director at Advertising Age. Previously, he was a columnist there. (Ad Age)
  • Fran Unsworth is now director of the World Service Group at the BBC. She’s deputy director of news and current affairs. (The Guardian)
  • Chris Moody will be a senior correspondent for CNN Politics Digital. Previously, he was a political correspondent for Yahoo News. (Politico)
  • Jeffrey Schneider is founding his own PR firm, Schneider Global Strategy. He’s a senior vice president and spokesperson at ABC News. (ABC)
  • Sruthijith KK is now editor at Huffington Post India. Previously, he was editor of Quartz India. (Medianama)

Job of the day: U.S. News and World Report is looking for a Congress reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org Read more

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Liberals and conservatives agree: You can’t trust BuzzFeed

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Nobody trusts BuzzFeed much: Pew’s new report on Political Polarization & Media Habits says “There is little overlap in the news sources” conservatives and liberals “turn to and trust.” The Wall Street Journal is trusted across ideological boundaries, and the BBC and The Economist do well among all but the most consistent conservatives, who say they equally trust and distrust those outlets. Only one publication is rated “More distrusted than trusted” regardless of respondents’ political outlook: BuzzFeed. It’s important to note, though, that fewer than 40 percent of respondents had heard of BuzzFeed. (Pew) | BuzzFeed EIC Ben Smith emails: “Most of the great news organizations have been around for decades, and trust is something you earn over time. Our organization is new, our news operation is even newer, and it’s early days for us. The more people know BuzzFeed News, especially young people who make up a small share of these surveys, the more they trust us.” | Brian Stelter: “Among other things, the study underscores Fox’s unique position in the media marketplace, thanks to what it calls the ‘strong allegiance’ that conservatives have to Fox.” (CNN)

    pew-trust-outlets 

  2. Jill Abramson plans a startup with Steve Brill: Investors “sound very interested.” (The Wrap) | “Abramson and Carr now discussing their teenage pot smoking habits. Jill smoked by a fountain. David liked to play frisbee.” (@ylichterman)
  3. The Guardian committed no foul by reporting on Whisper: A ruling from Ryan Chittum. “It would have been a journalistic lapse for the paper not to have told readers what it had learned.” (CJR)
  4. How Gamergate intimidates publications: The loose collective of shrill gaming “advocates” has a five-step plan for flooding advertisers’ inboxes about reporters it doesn’t like. And the attacks can work. (WP) | “The D-List Right-Wingers Who’ve Turned Gamergate Into Their Loser Army” (Gawker)
  5. What happened between the NABJ and CNN? NABJ President Bob Butler says the network bailed on supporting NABJ’s 2015 convention, and CNN says it was merely “reconsidering our relationship.” The dustup lays bare a “core conflict in what NABJ — and other journalism-diversity groups, for that matter — does from day to day,” Erik Wemple writes. “On the one hand, it monitors how well newsrooms embrace diversity; on the other, it pitches those same newsrooms to ante up for convention space and other stuff.” (WP)
  6. Nielsen will measure TV viewership across devices: It’s partnering with Adobe, which “sits at the very center of video distribution system and can track views down to the IP level.” (Reuters)
  7. It’s not a good idea to stalk a reviewer: But Kathleen Hale did it anyway. (BuzzFeed)
  8. Rachel Maddow points viewers to some excellent music: The MSNBC host offers five songs for the midterms, including Fugazi’s “Bad Mouth” and Sleater-Kinney’s “Youth Decay.” (HuffPost)
  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare: The Floyd County News & Tribune fronts a polka party at the Strassweg Auditorium in the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library in New Albany, Indiana. (Courtesy the Newseum.)

    floydnewstribune-10212014  

  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Eli Lake is leaving The Daily Beast, where he’s a national security correspondent. Josh Rogin is leaving The Daily Beast, where he’s a senior correspondent. (Huffington Post) | Simon Dumenco is editorial director at Advertising Age. Previously, he was a columnist there. (Ad Age) | Fran Unsworth is now director of the World Service Group at the BBC. She’s deputy director of news and current affairs. (The Guardian) | Chris Moody will be a senior correspondent for CNN Politics Digital. Previously, he was a political correspondent for Yahoo News. (Politico) | Jeffrey Schneider is founding his own PR firm, Schneider Global Strategy. He’s a senior vice president and spokesperson at ABC News. (ABC) | Sruthijith KK is now editor at Huffington Post India. Previously, he was editor of Quartz India. (Medianama) | Job of the day: U.S. News and World Report is looking for a Congress reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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Today in Media History: Back to the future at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair

October 21, 1962 was the last day to visit the Seattle World’s Fair. In case you missed it, here is a quick look back.

This TV commercial invites us to the fair with the line, “Welcome to the future and all the wonders of the 21st Century.”

The Seattle Times published a special souvenir edition for the World’s Fair in 1962. Fifty years later the newspaper pulled out an old copy and described the fair once again.

“Yes, Seattle was one swaggering city of Space Age superlatives when it put on the 1962 World’s Fair.

The excitement and hype had been building for years when The Seattle Times on April 8, 1962, published a 152-page, six-section souvenir edition dedicated to the World’s Fair. The sections were packed with stories brimming with civic optimism and statements of superiority.

And why not?

This remote outpost in a rainy corner of the country was booming. Seattle was home to Boeing, and the sky was the limit. So build that Space Needle with the rotating restaurant and the flaming top and let the world revolve around it.

And it did for six glorious months.

….It wasn’t all geeky scientific stuff. Seattle came across as a place to have fun and enjoy the natural beauty of the Northwest. Where you can buy a new home with ‘tomorrow’s pleasures and convenience.’

And all you visitors from out of town, you will ‘enjoy pleasant weather…Seattle is seldom hot. The summer sun feels good in Seattle.’

Soaring above everything at the World’s Fair and on the cover of the ‘Space Age Frontiers’ section was the Space Needle with elevators that moved with ‘rocketlike speed’ and a 40-foot ‘crown of flame’ natural-gas torch at the top.”

Seattle Times Image, 1962

Seattle Times Image, 1962

Here is a preview of the 2012 KCTS 9 documentary, “When Seattle Invented the Future: The 1962 World’s Fair.”

“The fair was fun for all and fair for everybody, but all good things must come to an end. On October 21, 1962, 124,479 visitors arrived at the fairgrounds, 13,000 of whom had tickets for the closing ceremonies at Memorial Stadium. President John F. Kennedy was supposed to be there, but aides had called his regrets two days earlier, saying that he had a heavy cold. In actuality, as would be revealed, he was deep into the beginnings of the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

— “Century 21 — The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair
HistoryLink.org

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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

Opinion: Why it’s so disappointing that j-schools are panicking over Ebola

In the last week, we’ve learned that three U.S. universities have canceled invitations to journalists due to fears about Ebola:

  • Syracuse University rescinded an invitation to Washington Post photographer Michel du Cille because he had reported on the epidemic in Liberia, and even though he’d been home longer than the 21-day self-monitoring period and had no symptoms, “there have been questions raised about whether the incubation period is longer,” Lorraine Branham, the dean of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, told Donald R. Winslow of News Photographer magazine.
  • The University of Georgia rescinded an invitation to Liberian journalist Wade C.L. Williams, who was due to speak at the university’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It just became abundantly clear we had a risk scenario and a situation on our hands that was a little more sensitive issue,” Grady College Dean Charles N. Davis told Brad Schrade of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • The University of South Florida at St. Petersburg rescinded invitations to African journalists who are taking part in the U.S. State Department’s Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists. “We’ve cancelled out of upmost caution,” Regional Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Han Reichgelt wrote in a letter to journalism-school faculty, students and staff.

“Caution,” “questions,” “sensitive” — these are all apparently synonyms for willful disregard for facts, which is a curious fit for journalism schools, institutions that purportedly train people how to report what they know.

Here’s something those schools could have gleaned from reading some journalism: Unless you’re in contact with infected individuals’ bodily fluids, you have almost no chance of getting Ebola. The virus could conceivably change its pattern of transmission, but as Joel Achenbach and Brady Dennis reported in The Washington Post Oct. 18, “such a major change in transmission has never been observed in a pathogen that already affects human beings.”

Another fact that inconveniences panic: There have been three cases of Ebola in the U.S. so far. One of those people has died. By contrast, Max Fisher reports in Vox, 30 people die in America every year and more than 40,000 are injured from their furniture falling on them.

Fearbola” has no place at journalism schools. There’s simply too much well-reported information available to justify these jelly-spined responses. Administrators at Newhouse, Grady and USF are teaching their students a dismal lesson: If they fear criticism — or possibly lawsuits — they should back off, facts be damned.

Two-thirds of Americans say they are concerned about an Ebola outbreak, according to a Washington Post poll last week. Journalism schools should be training their students to battle such perceptions (seriously, you’re probably going to die from heart disease or cancer). Which is why it’s so disappointing to see them leading in the opposite direction.

Related: “In canceling African journalists’ program, fear trumps reason” (Tampa Bay Times) | When covering Ebola, “reports that lead to more questions than answers may also lead to harm.” (SPJ) Read more

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Gannett gives employees an extra paid day off

Most Gannett employees will get Dec. 26 off, President and CEO Gracia Martore tells employees in a memo. Anyone who has to work that day — “because as we all know, the news never sleeps,” she writes — can plan another day off before the year ends.

Martore also gives some details about what divisions will stay with each company as Gannett plans to split its publishing and broadcast businesses. Gannett Digital will stay with the publishing company, as will IT and its national sales division.

Likewise, HR will be part of the broadcast company and will provide shared services to the publishing company. Each company will have its own legal and communications teams, among others. The split, Martore writes, should occur “in mid-2015.”

Here’s the memo:

Dear Colleagues:

I wanted to share some news in case you missed today’s employee Town Hall meeting.

The holiday season is fast approaching and I want to thank you for all you have done to help this company grow and thrive. The past three years have been fast-paced and exceptional as we continue to transform the company’s business and chart a new course. Without your hard work,
this company would not be in the terrific condition it is today.

Because of this, I want to give everyone a special holiday surprise: This year, the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, will be a paid day off —
a companywide holiday.

Of course there will be some of you who, like on any other holiday, will work that day because as we all know, the news never sleeps, or
takes a vacation for that matter.

For those of you who are called upon to work that day, please coordinate with your managers and plan another day off before the end
of the year. Every employee has earned this extra day off and your willingness to work on Dec. 26 is deeply appreciated.

Best wishes to all and thank you for helping to steer a strong course for our company and for your efforts in support of this journey of
transformation. I wish you and your families a very safe and joyous upcoming holiday season.

Meanwhile, on a different note, we are taking positive steps toward what we initially announced in August: the creation of two publicly
traded companies, one exclusively focused on our Broadcasting and Digital businesses, and the other on our Publishing business and its
dynamic digital assets.

This is — and will be — a long and complicated process as there are literally thousands of decisions, large and small, to be made as we go
down this road.

One of our initial considerations has been determining where the many parts of the business would be located — in other words — which group
goes with which company. And while we do not have all of the answers today, I want to share with you some of the preliminary decisions we
have made.

Obviously — the vast majority of you already know which company you will be going with — USCP, USA TODAY and Newsquest employees will go
with Publishing. Broadcasting and Digital Ventures employees will go with the Broadcasting and Digital company.

However, there are other groups that provide services across divisions. Some of the preliminary decisions on where those groups
will be housed have been made and I wanted to share that information with you.

As mentioned earlier, Digital Ventures, including G/O Digital, will stay with the Broadcasting and Digital company. G/O Digital will be a
shared service, providing its products to both companies. In addition, Cars.com will continue to offer its portfolio to the Publishing
company through affiliation agreements. Pointroll will transition to Digital Ventures over the coming months and will become part of the
Broadcasting and Digital company.

Gannett Digital will be a part of the Publishing company, where the majority of its clients are. The digital team will continue to provide
top notch products and services to Broadcasting and Digital Ventures. Over the next several months, we will be working to ensure that the
Broadcasting and Digital company has the appropriate digital expertise on staff as well.

National Sales will be housed in Publishing at separation, given it does the lion’s share of work for them but we will continue to look at
opportunities, even after the separation, to leverage both companies’ scale and reach together.

I.T. and Gannett Supply also will be a part of Publishing and provide shared services to the Broadcasting and Digital company.

Labor Relations and HR will be a part of the Broadcasting and Digital company. They will provide shared services to the Publishing company.

The Legal, Finance, Internal Audit, Investor Relations and Communications groups will be split between the two companies at the
time of separation, as each company will need its own independent teams.

I want to make it clear — I know we have the best people and corporate functions anywhere. In fact, supporting the two companies created by the separation will generate greater career opportunities for many of our current employees as we look at how to support both businesses.

Of course, until the day of separation, we are ONE company. We need to continue to produce the outstanding, trusted content our consumers and
communities expect from us; and we need to continue to support our clients by helping them grow their businesses with our strong products
and services.

So please keep up the terrific work you are doing today throughout this process — straight through to the separation, which we expect
will occur in mid-2015.

There are many more decisions to come and we will be sure to keep you updated.

Warm regards,

Gracia

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Gannett

Gannett earnings strong, but publishing revenues continue a steep slide

FILE - This July 14, 2010 file photo shows the Gannett headquarters in McLean, Va. Gannett Co. reported Overall company revenue growth of 15 percent. The media company said, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE – This July 14, 2010 file photo shows the Gannett headquarters in McLean, Va. Gannett Co. reported Overall company revenue growth of 15 percent. The media company said, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Embedded in otherwise excellent third quarter financial results reported today by Gannett are some sobering numbers on the continuing decline of revenues for its newspaper division.

U.S publishing ad revenues year-to-date are down 6.3 percent. At Gannett, that difference is more than made up by booming broadcast operations and freestanding digital ventures like CareerBuilder.  So revenues for the entire company are up a healthy 13.4 percent.

But I also consider USA Today and Gannett’s 81 community newspapers a reasonable proxy for the entire newspaper industry, which has stopped reporting its financial results quarterly.  If the rest of the year is roughly in line, newspapers are on track again in 2014 to lose $1 billion-plus in advertising.

That’s against a 2013 base of $17.30 billion industrywide in daily print advertising or $23.57 billion including all form of advertising, according to estimates by the Newspaper Association of America.

Gannett’s advertising decline to date (-6.3 percent) roughly matches the industry rate in 2013 (-6.5 percent).  So 2014 is proving no better than 2013.  Recent waves of staff cuts as companies budget for 2015 suggest that revenue growth is not expected next year either.

At Gannett (and probably most U.S. papers) circulation revenues were up slightly for the quarter and holding even for the year. The papers are now cycling past one-time revenue gains of roughly 5 percent in both 2012 and 2013 from introduction of paywalls and price increases for print and print + digital subscriptions.

Digital advertising is increasing, mostly at USA Today, but not nearly enough to offset the print losses.  And the continued growth of digital marketing services, sold to local businesses, is another plus.

In an earnings conference call, CEO Gracia Martore said another bright spot for the company has been the introduction of a section of USA Today news at its 35 largest papers.  Surveys show a positive reader response, she said, in some cities justifying another round of subscription price increases.

There is an echo of that strategy throughout the industry.  This weekend both The New York Times and Washington Post introduced print supplements which regional papers can include in their Sunday editions.  The Post had earlier made a free subscription to its digital report available to digital subscribers of partnering regional papers.

This arrangement allows papers to focus on their local news report, while offering subscribers, especially the older demographic that prefers print, a fuller report of national and international news, as was standard in better financial times.

Gannett’s broadcast revenues are up 97.2 percent year-to-date in large part because the operation is much larger after acquisition of Belo’s 20 stations. Retransmission fees paid by cable systems to local stations continue strong, up 61 percent for the quarter.

And political advertising is booming beyond expectations.  At the company’s Denver station — where Colorado has both a competitive governor’s and U.S. Senate race — this year’s revenues are even outpacing those of 2012, a presidential year, said Martore.

The different trajectories of broadcast and print have prompted Gannett to plan splitting those operations into two companies, a spinoff Martore said should be completed by mid-2015.

News Corp., Media General, Tribune and the Washington Post (now Graham Holdings) have already completed such a split and Scripps and Journal Communications plan one as part of a merger.

Other public newspaper companies, New York Times, McClatchy and Lee, do not own TV stations. So, soon there will be no combined print and broadcast operations among public companies, and some larger private companies like Hearst have separated TV and newspaper divisions as well.

In theory the print-only companies will benefit from management focused exclusively on their digital transformation, audience and advertising issues.  And they won’t be competing internally with fast-growing broadcast for capital.

All that, however, leaves the big question lingering — can the companies slow the print advertising losses, generate enough digital ad growth, increase circulation revenue and bring in enough income from new ventures to make up the difference. Read more

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Sun-Times, attacked by both sides in governor’s race, defends coverage

Chicago Sun-Times | Crain’s Chicago Business

Bruce Rauner, a candidate for governor in Illinois, tried to squelch a critical Sun-Times story, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Jim Kirk writes. The Sun-Times also endorsed Rauner, who used to be an investor in the Sun-Times’ ownership group. That move brought criticism from Rauner’s opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn.

“Those former ties mean nothing when it comes to the Sun-Times’ ability and determination to report on him and his campaign fairly and accurately,” Kirk writes, saying the paper “has been fearless in its reporting.”

The paper’s endorsement of Rauner was its first since it announced in 2012 that it would no longer make endorsements.

Sun-Times reporter Dave McKinney co-bylined on the story that angered Rauner, which reported on a lawsuit that claimed he’d threatened Christine Kirk, an executive at another company who is no relation to Jim Kirk. “There’s no ‘there’ there,” Rauner told the Sun-Times.

McKinney has hired an attorney “to investigate whether the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner tried to interfere with his employment,” Lynne Marek reports in Crain’s Chicago Business. Rauner, a Republican, complained to the Sun-Times that McKinney is married to a Democratic consultant. “Recently, Mr. McKinney was inexplicably absent from his statehouse beat for five days despite one of the hottest gubernatorial races in recent memory,” Marek writes.

Kirk tells Marek that “Out of an abundance of caution, we did review this matter and we are convinced Dave’s wife, Ann Liston, receives no financial benefit from any Illinois political campaign because of the extraordinary steps they’ve taken to establish business safeguards.”

McKinney “has been and remains our Springfield bureau chief for all the right reasons: because he continues to do great work covering both sides of the aisle,” Kirk writes in his editorial. Read more

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