Media industry news & commentary. Send tips.

Tribune Tower is up for sale

The Tower (AP Photo)

Tribune Tower, photographed in 2006. (AP Photo)

Chicago Sun-Times | Chicago Tribune

Tribune Tower, the iconic headquarters of the Chicago Tribune, is on the market.

Tribune Media, the owner of the 36-story Michigan Avenue landmark “has hired real estate investment banker Eastdil Secured to explore an outright sale or partnership,” the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick reported Thursday:

Built in 1925, Tribune Tower was designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, who won a contest held by Chicago Tribune co-publishers Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Patterson to create the newspaper’s headquarters.

Reports of the tower’s potential sale have circulated before. In 2006, a company spokesperson shot down rumors that the building was on the market amid the company’s $2 billion share buyback plan. Read more


How 3 New Jersey newsrooms are turning to their readers for story ideas

(New Brunswick at night. Photo by razordu30/Flickr)

(New Brunswick, New Jersey at night. Photo by razordu30/Flickr)

Earlier this year, during a New Jersey summer that saw a particularly nasty heat wave, readers of a local news site in New Brunswick had a question: Why couldn’t they find any public swimming pools in their community?

Under normal circumstances, that question might have fallen by the wayside, filed away with other timeless story ideas on some interminable to-do list. But staffers at New Brunswick Today are now considering answering that question thanks to Hearken, a platform for reader engagement that helps newsrooms interact with their communities.

New Brunswick Today is one of three news organizations in New Jersey that have received funding from a group of nonprofits to incorporate Hearken into their newsrooms. Read more

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 4.20.03 PM

What Gannett gets by getting bigger and why newspaper consolidation will continue

For three different reasons, Gannett’s surprise acquisition Wednesday of Journal Media Group (the former Scripps papers and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) makes a lot of sense:

– In the era of digital transformation, bigger is better. A larger audience translates to better prospects for digital ad sales. The combined operations will have 100 million monthly uniques, according to the press release announcing the deal.

– Any such merger brings efficiency as corporate offices combine and shrink. Gannett said that it expects $35 million in savings and may have other cost-cutting initiatives at the ready.  Smaller newsrooms are a possibility but not a certainty.

– Gannett has a suite of centralized programs — news feeds from USA Today, a common content management system, events and digital marketing services capacity — that will pay off the more markets they touch. Read more


Purdue deletes video of Bart Gellman speech, cites use of classified material

Now you see it, now you don’t.

Barton Gellman, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who’s worked mostly for The Washington Post, spoke last month at Purdue University as a “Dawn or Doom” colloquium. It involved his take on national security matters, an area of renowned expertise for somebody who was both conduit for and analyst of Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks.

He was promised a video of the presentation but then told that Purdue’s lawyers had said no to that notion or otherwise publishing the video.

Now, writing for The Century Foundation, for which he also works, he indicates that three slides used during his 90-minute presentation contained classified materials. Technically, they remain classified despite the fact that the information can be found on the Internet and has been viewed by millions worldwide. Read more

Screen shot, Players' Tribune

The Players’ Tribune is becoming an athletic community

When The Players’ Tribune issued a release it had hired Kevin Durant as its new deputy publisher last week, it prompted the usual jokes on social media and elsewhere. USA Today even did a post noting that Kobe Bryant, who holds the title of editorial director for The Players’ Tribune, can’t be happy about Durant leapfrogging him.

“Well, these are honorary titles that suggest the athletes have a place in our company,” said The Players’ Tribune editorial director Gary Hoenig. “We meant to explain them a little bit more jocularly—is that the word? We just haven’t gotten around to it. Kevin will have a role with us, but is he going to call and ask why we are spending so much on travel? I don’t think so.”

Hoenig, though, says the addition of Durant is yet another positive sign as The Players’ Tribune begins year two. Read more

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.36.51 AM

Somalia now tops CPJ’s list of countries where journalists are murdered with impunity

For the first time since 2008, Iraq isn’t at the top of Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Impunity Index. The annual report details countries where journalists are killed with no resulting convictions. This year, the top spot went to Somalia. Read more


Bill Simmons hammers ESPN (again)

Vanity Fair

Bill Simmons, the sportswriter and broadcaster who was bounced from ESPN, told a Vanity Fair gathering that the sports network avoided overt criticism of the National Football League.

“The way ESPN has covered the N.F.L. for the last year has been really shaky,” Simmons told the magazine’s “New Establishment” conference in San Francisco Wednesday during a panel in which he was joined by tennis legend John McEnroe.

He cited the domestic violence case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, saying, “You didn’t really see it on ESPN. You saw it everywhere else. You start to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is their biggest partner. Are they holding back a little?’”

He criticized other networks in a similar vein. “They’re not going to criticize them because they need the [television] rights.”

Bob Ley, an ESPN stalwart, quickly tweeted a response to Simmons and said he was entitled to his own opinions, “not his own set of facts.”

Simmons, who has moved to HBO, was ambiguous as to whether his Grantland venture on ESPN was profitable. Read more


The winner of the Nobel Prize in literature went to j-school

Belarusian journalist and writer Svetlana Alexievich the 2015 Nobel literature winner, is surrounded as she leaves a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in literature Thursday, for works that the prize judges called "a monument to suffering and courage." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarusian journalist and writer Svetlana Alexievich the 2015 Nobel literature winner, is surrounded as she leaves a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in literature Thursday, for works that the prize judges called “a monument to suffering and courage.” (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Want to win a Nobel Prize in literature? Just go to journalism school. In Minsk.

Case in point: Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature. The Guardian’s Marta Bausells described her as “the Belarusian writer whose oral histories have recorded thousands of individual voices to map the implosion of the Soviet Union.”

Her books, which she says take about 10 years to write, are based upon thousands of interviews with people – often they are women and children – who lived through disasters such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. Read more


Former congresswoman says she was forced to ditch journalist’s links in her PhD thesis

International Business Times

A former congresswoman took out WikiLeaks references in a doctoral dissertation due to fears she might be prosecuted, she said.

Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia said that she originally used “many of the same WikiLeaks documents” that Barrett Brown, a freelance journalist, shared on his site, Project PM, as she completed a dissertation last year at Ohio’s Antioch University.

She received her PhD, but not before a librarian at the university was moved to “completely, totally freak,” said McKinney. McKinney indicated that the librarian was anxious about being subpoenaed.

The dissertation was on leadership and prompted McKinney to initially incorporate documents shared by Brown, who was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Dallas to 63 months in prison for posting “a hyperlink in his reporting to information obtained by the Anonymous collective in a 2011 hack of intelligence contractor Stratfor,” according to U.S. Read more

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 10.31.11 AM

Front page of the day: Shutout

Today’s front page of the day comes from the Chicago Tribune, which led with the Chicago Cubs’ shutout win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card game. Via Newseum:

IL_CT Read more


Mamma Mia! Meryl Streep rips male film critics

Good morning.

  1. Surprise (not), gender imbalance

    America's newsrooms remain impervious to real diversity, which extends to columnists and critics. Promoting her latest movie on the Suffrage Movement, Meryl Streep Wednesday inspired Heartburn and Doubt as she noted how there are four men to every female critic in Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer (Rotten Tomatoes) film ratings (760 men, 168 women). It's about the same with the elite New York Film Critics Circle. Given their tendency to praise her, It's Complicated. You can't accuse Streep of sour grapes since everybody, male or female, loves her work. "I submit to you that men and women are not the same. They like different things. Sometimes they like the same things, but their tastes diverge." (Slate) Boy, some critics may now see her as an unfair Iron Lady, while she might prefer that they all take a hike Into the Woods.

Read more

4 telltale signs you’re too print-centric

(Stock image from Deposit Photos)

(Stock image from Deposit Photos)

Some call me the Sun Sentinel’s digital cop. I’ve made it a personal mission to keep the journalists who create content from thinking in print terms.

Will a story zone? What is the 1B centerpiece? Should we contain that story? Those are important questions handled by our print production desk, a select group of talented copy editors who previously lacked control over the packaging of the print edition but now own it.

The rest of the newsroom, those who gather and crystallize the information that serve as the backbone of our storytelling, focus on how best to tell the stories of the day. Is it a narrative? A video? A photo gallery? An interactive database? All of the above?

Of course, it wasn’t always that way. Read more


Wednesday, Oct. 07, 2015

Earns Gannett

Gannett to buy Journal Media Group for $280 million

The sign by Gannett's (now TEGNA) headquarters is seen in McLean, Va in 2010. (AP Photo)

The sign by Gannett’s (now TEGNA) headquarters is seen in McLean, Virginia in 2010. (AP Photo)

Newspaper giant Gannett announced on Wednesday it has inked a deal to purchase Journal Media Group for $280 million.

The deal will enlarge Gannett, already the largest U.S. newspaper publisher by revenue, as it adds Journal’s 15 dailies and 18 weeklies to its portfolio of publications. According to a release, the acquisition will bolster Gannett’s annual revenues by $450 million and grow the company’s daily circulation by 675,000.

By acquiring Journal Media Group, Gannett follows through on an earlier assurance to shareholders that it would adopt an acquisitive strategy following the spinoff from its parent company in June.

In a statement, newly minted Gannett CEO Robert Dickey touted the merger as the first step in the company’s industry consolidation strategy. Read more

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 6.28.09 AM

Commentary: Corporate media’s lack of vision threatens photojournalism’s future

Sometimes, the cumulative insults to talented visual journalists make me want to holler and throw up both my hands.

Early last Saturday, veteran Pulitzer Prize-winning St. Louis photojournalist David Carson was approached via Twitter by a representative from CBS News to publish his compelling photographs from a chaotic shooting scene at a Friday night football game. PetaPixel’s Michael Zhang chronicled the exchange on Tuesday.

Read more

Police arrest city commissioner for hitting TV reporter on camera


Amos Newsome, a Dothan, Alabama city commissioner, was booked by police on Tuesday after hitting WTVY reporter Ken Curtis in the head.

Curtis, who was asking Newsome whether he had plans to resign following a voter fraud scandal, followed the visibly agitated commissioner to his car before the commissioner yelled “Get!” and struck him in the face.

According to WTVY, Newsome has been charged with misdemeanor assault. Bail is set at $500. Read more