Jack Shafer

Brian Williams reportedly lobbied to succeed David Letterman

Good morning! Here are 10 media stories.

  1. More tales of tumult from inside NBC News

    Gabriel Sherman's much-anticipated longread about the turmoil surrounding Brian Williams' suspension from the anchor chair dropped Sunday. Among the juiciest tidbits: Williams asked CBS CEO Les Moonves to be considered as a replacement for David Letterman upon the comedian's retirement from "Late Show," according to "a high-level source"; Four NBC and NBCUniversal officials visited Williams at his apartment to notify him he was being taken off the air; Richard Esposito, the investigative producer at NBC News conducting a review of Williams, "delivered a 45-minute presentation at [NBCUniversal CEO Steve] Burke’s apartment" that unearthed "more issues" with Williams' disputed claims; Williams can't talk to the press under the terms of his suspension and "can’t wait until he can speak" publicly about the situation, according to "a close friend." (New York) | "If Brian Williams proposed to CBS that he take over when Letterman retires, that alone is reason he should not return" (@jayrosen_nyu) | "Last weekend, workers at NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters briefly wiped away promotional photos of Brian Williams." They went back up the next day. (CNN Money)

  2. Gawker Media might sue for Clinton emails

    Gawker Media is "probably likely" to sue under the Freedom of Information Act after its 2013 open-records requests for Hillary Clinton's emails were rebuffed, Gawker Media investigations editor John Cook told CNN host Brian Stelter for Sunday's edition of "Reliable Sources." "It's because there was this highly unusual, deliberate system created to prevent her records from being released under the FOIA." (CNN) | The Associated Press is considering legal action, too. (Poynter) | Politico media columnist Jack Shafer says Clinton and company will wait the controversy out. "Six weeks hence, when asked about the emails, Clinton and her staff will flick their hands and say, as they often do, 'Oh, that’s old news.'" (Politico) | Previously: "The State Department had not searched the email account of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton because she had maintained a private account, which shielded it from such searches, department officials acknowledged on Tuesday." (New York Times)

  3. Newspapers bid Chris Christie spokesman a not-so-fond farewell

    The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger published a biting sendoff for longtime Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak Friday: "Let's be frank: If Michael Drewniak were an affable and agreeable chap, rather than someone with the personality of an ulcerated nightclub bouncer, the vicious media and vile denizens of the chat room underworld would wish him bona fortuna and that would be that." (Star-Ledger) | Drewniak, a former Star-Ledger reporter, will be chief of policy and strategic planning for New Jersey Transit. (Star-Ledger) | "Let's state the obvious right up front: The new six-figure job created for Michael Drewniak at NJ Transit, courtesy of the good graces of Gov. Chris Christie, is a complete waste of money." (Asbury Park Press)

  4. Media show support for International Women’s Day

    Several news organizations have taken steps to show solidarity with the No Ceilings initiative, a Clinton Foundation project that highlights gender inequality. W magazine removed Scarlett Johansson from the cover of its March issue. (New York Times) | "Teen Vogue removed Gigi Hadid and Binx Walton from our March cover to help people imagine a world in which women are missing and to symbolize that girls are 'Not There' yet when it comes to equality." (Teen Vogue) | Vogue published a slideshow of previous covers with women cut out of them. (Vogue) | Mashable briefly changed its Twitter profile picture. (@Mashable) | Related: Reporters Without Borders paid tribute to 10 women journalists around the globe. (Reporters Without Borders)

  5. Sun-Times layoffs could be postponed

    Employees at the Chicago Sun-Times will vote today on a proposal "that would forestall layoffs for six months," Chicago media reporter Robert Feder writes. "But there’s a catch: The moratorium on layoffs is tied to an agreement to reduce six full-time positions to part-time ones in areas where management expects to reduce coverage." (Robert Feder) | Fifteen editorial staffers at the Sun-Times accepted buyout offers in late February. (Poynter)

  6. Guardian report alleges the BBC is punishing sex abuse whistleblowers

    Former BBC journalists Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean told The Guardian's Nick Cohen they felt their careers were negatively affected after they produced a report detailing allegations of pedophilia against BBC media personality Jimmy Savile. "The scandal is simply this: the BBC is forcing out or demoting the journalists who exposed Jimmy Savile as a voracious abuser of girls." (The Guardian) | British journalist Nick Pollard reviewed the network's decision not to publish an investigation into Savile. "He said there was 'chaos and confusion' at the BBC but found no evidence of a cover-up over the decision not to broadcast." (BBC)

  7. Read this before you write another post about 'The Dress'

    Stories that aim to generate traffic by piggybacking on viral trends might face headwinds, Lucia Moses writes for Digiday. "...a confluence of factors, from viewability to changing Facebook algorithms to falling CPMs, are making the economics of this kind of viral strategy a bit more complicated." Some news organizations have taken away bonuses for high-traffic traffic stories, and advertisers are increasingly suspicious of pageview numbers. (Digiday) | Previously: "‘The Dress’ illustrates ‘viral sameness’ among news organizations" (Poynter)

  8. The Toronto Star is ending its subscription program

    As of April 1, readers will be able to access all of the Toronto Star's content, the paper writes. "We are making this move after extensive input from our readers and our advertisers. Listening to our audiences is critical to the success of our daily newspaper and our digital offerings and we are committed to continually adjusting our digital strategies to provide them with what they want." (Toronto Star)

  9. Front page of the day

    The (Mobile, Alabama) Press-Register offers this then-and-now look at the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge after the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." (Courtesy Kiosko)

  10. Job moves

    Randy Archibold will be deputy sports editor at The New York Times. Previously, he was Mexico bureau chief there. (Email) | Justin Green will manage social media and engagement at IJReview. Previously, he was online editor at the Washington Examiner (IJReview) | Andy Lack is now chairman of NBC News and MSNBC. Previously, he was CEO and director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. (Poynter) | Bryan Bender will be a national security editor at Politico. He is a national security reporter at The Boston Globe. (Dan Kennedy) | Job of the day: Inside Higher Ed is looking for a higher education management and finance reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Corrections? Tips? Please email me: bmullin@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.

Correction: A previous version of this post called Jack Shafer a Reuters media columnist. He writes for Politico. Read more


Press critic Jack Shafer to join Politico

The Huffington Post

Jack Shafer, formerly a media critic for Slate and Reuters, will join Politico, according to a staff memo from Politico editor Susan Glasser.

At Politico, Shafer’s duties will include writing a regular column and reporting out longer pieces, according to the memo.

As we begin the quadrennial follies of a presidential election amid a wave of media disruption, Jack promises to be the indispensable guide to the political tumult, who always calls it like he sees it and whose sharp insights and razor observations come accompanied not only by deeply informed reporting – but also by a requisite sense of the long history underpinning all this narrative of American political journalism.

Shafer was most recently a media critic for Reuters, a job he was let go from in November. Upon his departure, Shafer told Poynter he wasn’t taking the news hard.

“I’m fine,” Shafer told Poynter. “My philosophy is that the job belongs to the employer,” he said. “When they want to do something else with the money, that’s their prerogative.”

Before Shafer joined Reuters, he was a longtime press critic for Slate. Before that he was editor of Washington City Paper and San Francisco Weekly.

Shafer will start on Tuesday, according to the memo:

All – The incomparable Jack Shafer is joining us! Jack is the premier press critic of our time, and we can’t wait to welcome him to POLITICO. Luckily, we won’t have to wait long; he’ll start here on Tuesday, launching a regular new column for us and doing more longform reporting and feature-length articles. As we begin the quadrennial follies of a presidential election amid a wave of media disruption, Jack promises to be the indispensable guide to the political tumult, who always calls it like he sees it and whose sharp insights and razor observations come accompanied not only by deeply informed reporting – but also by a requisite sense of the long history underpinning all this narrative of American political journalism. Jack’s resume is of course the perfect one to enable him to play the referee: he’s tried just about every kind of journalistic reinvention himself. Until recently, he wrote a column about the press and politics for Reuters; for 15 years before that he worked at Slate, first as deputy editor and then as the site’s Press Box columnist. Prior to Slate he spent 11 years editing two alternative weeklies—San Francisco Weekly and Washington City Paper. And before that he was managing editor of a now-defunct political magazine called Inquiry.

Please join us in welcoming Jack!

Read more

Anchors met in secret with Darren Wilson

Good morning. Welcome to a short week! Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Anchors negotiated in secret with Darren Wilson

    Matt Lauer, George Stephanopoulos, Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon are among the television personalities who've met with Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson, Brian Stelter reports. There is some potential money for subjects of these bidding wars, Jim Moret explains -- in licensing photos. But mostly it's about comfort and timing. (CNN) | "When 'off the record' is used to protect not only what’s said in a particular meeting, but also the meeting itself, it becomes a tool not so much for journalists but for the sources seeking to own them." (WP)

  2. Meanwhile, in Ferguson

    Police said journalist Trey Yingst was standing in the road, but "as this reporter and a multitude of other witnesses saw firsthand -- and as was captured on video -- Yingst was not in the street." (HuffPost) | Judge: Police in Missouri can't stop reporters from recording them. (AP) | L.A. Times reporter Matt Pearce got "got hit in head w/something" but is OK and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery was tweeting for him. (Instagram: mattdpearce)

  3. "Fellows" replace interns

    "Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed, said that his company’s internships and fellowships were in fact different. Interns work for three months and make $12 an hour. Fellows work for three months and make $12 but follow a 'structured curriculum.'" (NYT)

  4. Daily Currant article leads to epic NYT correction

    "An earlier version of this column was published in error. That version included what purported to be an interview that Kanye West gave to a Chicago radio station in which he compared his own derrière to that of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Mr. West’s quotes were taken, without attribution, from the satirical website The Daily Currant. There is no radio station WGYN in Chicago; the interview was fictitious, and should not have been included in the column." (NYT) | Craig Silverman digs up the uncorrected version of Joyce Wadler’s column (which is named “I Was Misinformed”). (Poynter)

  5. Marion Barry and the media

    The former D.C. mayor's death Sunday brought a bunch of former local reporters back on the Barry beat. | Jack Shafer: "When covering Marion Barry, many journalists have written themselves into the scenes with him not just because it made for good copy, but because his megalomania enhanced theirs." (Washington City Paper) | David Carr: "Everyone who covered Barry will shake their head at his ward heeler ways, his smoke-and-mirror budgeting, his inability to bring any of his employees or departments to account. ... Those same people, including me, would tell you that on a personal level, no one was more fun to talk to." (Washingtonian) | Who dubbed Barry "Mayor for Life"? Richard Cohen says he did. (WP) | Barry credited former Washington City Paper columnist Ken Cummins. (@jon_fischer) | An archive of "the single person Washington City Paper has written the most sentences about in the paper's 33 years." (WCP) | Some Barry fans petitioned TMZ to change its "Crack Mayor" headline. (WCP) | Washington Post front page. | Express front page. | Washington Times front page. (All courtesy the Newseum.)

  6. Tribune Publishing rescinds discretionary vacation policy

    In the future, employees will have "better opportunity for input," CEO Jack Griffin says. (Romenesko)

  7. RIP Michael Shanahan

    The former AP journalist and educator would listen patiently when angry Redskins fans would call him to complain about the team. He died Saturday. (ABC News) | W. Joseph Campbell's remarks at a memorial service for Ohio Wesleyan University journalism teacher Verne E. Edwards, who exhibited a "modesty rather rare in the academy." (Media Myth Alert)

  8. How are news orgs different from software companies?

    Journalists who do their jobs well "end up being ostracised or imprisoned rather than ringing the opening bell at the New York stock exchange," Emily Bell writes. (The Guardian)

  9. Bloggers are better together

    When affiliated bloggers abandoned their personal blogs and published together on the Daily Banter, they found their audience and a business model. (PBS MediaShift)

  10. Front page of the day, not curated by Kristen Hare

    The Journal News on the typographic dangers of texting. (Courtesy the Newseum)

Ben Mullin's job moves is on vacation this week. Corrections? Tips? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here. Read more

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Washington Post looks toward national audience with Kindle Fire app

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Washington Post looks toward national audience with new Kindle Fire app

    This is important: It will not provide local news. Updates every day at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Free for six months, a buck for the next six months. (WP) | Post people said owner Jeff Bezos "had made it clear, through meetings with executives and through feedback on ideas and proposals, that The Post’s broad strategy should shift toward growing its national and international audience — in direct contrast to its previous mission of narrowing its focus to local news." (NYT) | The Post also launched "BrandConnect Perspective" Thursday, a native advertising initiative for opinion pieces. First up is Bayer, with "Modern Agriculture is Based on Sound Science." (WP) | Related: Former Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli's North Base Media is an investor in Inkl, a "Spotify for media content." (StartupSmart)

  2. Bill Cosby and the media

    "I think if you want to consider yourself to be serious, it will not appear anywhere," he warns Brett Zongker after declining to comment on rape allegations. (AP) | Ta-Nehisi Coates: "I would not dismiss all journalists who've declined to mention these allegations as cowards." (The Atlantic) | Cosby, Terrence Howard, R. Kelly: "a lot of arts writing is PR driven, and talk of arrests and assaults is off-message," Bill Wyman wrote earlier this month. "But that doesn’t excuse the straight news sections’ inability to relate the basic facts of these cases." (CJR)

  3. Reuters lets Jack Shafer go

    “I’m fine,” the media columnist told Poynter. “My philosophy is that the job belongs to the employer. When they want to do something else with the money, that’s their prerogative.” (Poynter) | "Ours is a great business," Shafer tells Peter Sterne. "I’d take your job." (Capital) | Thomson Reuters plans to eliminate as many as 55 editorial jobs. (BuzzFeed)

  4. The Uber stories continue

    Michael Wolff invited BuzzFeed EIC Ben Smith to the dinner for "influentials" where a company executive mused publicly about spending a million bucks to dig up dirt on a critical journalist. The night "was a convivial evening" and "Smith's portrait is at odds with the event," he writes. (USA Today) | Dylan Byers: "it's troubling to watch the digital lynch mob on Twitter promote the idea that a man should be fired from his job because he floated an idea, however unsavory, over dinner." (Politico) | Silicon Valley publications are in a tight spot with this and similar stories because "many of these publications make a significant portion of their revenue from live events and conferences that feature appearances by the big-name tech executives they cover. Some publications also rely on investments from venture capital firms that have stakes in the start-ups they cover." (NYT) | What Uber drivers make. (BuzzFeed) | U.S. Sen. Al Franken writes the company, asks whether it disciplined the blabby executive, Emil Michael. (Al Franken) | Uber's more guarded about customer data when New York's taxi commission wants it than, say, when it wants to blog about "Rides of Glory." (Capital)

  5. MailOnline will rip off Daily Mail's name

    Kidding, kidding, they're part of the same publication. MailOnline has massive traffic but profitability eludes. So it will become DailyMail.com in the U.S. to help bridge the brand gap. CEO Jon Steinberg plans to goose sales of native ads, which MailOnline reporters create. (WSJ)

  6. It's Old Newsboys Day in St. Louis

    Volunteers sell a special newspaper this morning around town to help raise money for local children's charities. Here's where you can find a newsboy: (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  7. Media orgs are obsessed with intersections

    Erik Wemple takes apart the cliché. (WP)

  8. Watch your pens around Josh Mankeiwicz

    The NBC News reporter bombs a lie detector test when asked about stealing office supplies. (NBC News)

  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare

    A Depew, New York, resident tries to tunnel out. More snow is falling. Also, the band Interpol is stuck. (Courtesy the Newseum)


  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Anthony DeMaio is now publisher of Slate. Previously, he was president of national sales there. (Politico) | Chelsea Janes will cover the Washington Nationals for The Washington Post. She covers high school sports there. (Washington Post) | Sophia Papaioannou is now editorial director at HuffPost Greece. She hosts "360 Degrees". Nikos Agouros is now editor-in-chief of HuffPost Greece. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of VimaMen. (Huffington Post) | Steve Unger will be interim CEO at Ofcom. He is director of strategy, international technology and economy there. (The Guardian) | The Associated Press is looking for a supervisory correspondent in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Corrections? Tips? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.

Correction: This post originally said the Post's Kindle app would cost $1 per month after a trial period. Six months' access will cost $1 after the trial period. Read more


Jack Shafer says Reuters let him go

BuzzFeed | The Washington Post

Reuters media critic Jack Shafer tells Poynter Reuters let him go.

“I’m fine,” Shafer told Poynter. “My philosophy is that the job belongs to the employer,” he said. “When they want to do something else with the money, that’s their prerogative.”

He announced his departure on Twitter.

Matthew Zeitlin reported in BuzzFeed Wednesday that Reuters planned to lay off as 55 people.

Shafer said he wasn’t conversant with HR terminology and that Reuters removed him in a “very respectful and professional manner.”

As for his future plans, Shafer says he plans to “get Fugazi back together as my next trick.”

Shafer’s departure signals a shift from the current Web strategy at Reuters, Erik Wemple writes:

Despite all its scoops on business and finance, it has had trouble figuring out how to adapt key business products — subscriptions and financial information terminals — to the digital age.

Shafer was Slate’s media columnist but was laid off from that job in 2011. “Everybody in our business has to see this coming,” he said at the time, adding that journalists should look “both ways when they cross the street.” Read more


Henry Waxman retires — must be the scoldings from media critics

Orange County Register | Reuters

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman announced plans to retire Thursday. In a statement on his website, the California Democrat said he was “not leaving out of frustration with Congress” and that it was “time for someone else to have the chance to make his or her mark.” All excellent, plausible reasons to leave a job after 20 terms in office. But I know the real reason he left — he couldn’t handle the disapproval of media critics!

Oh sure, you say, media critics are the least-feared workers of the journalistic trade, people who pounce on typos and plagiarism scandals as if they were of equal importance. You might even make the case that Waxman isn’t aware of media criticism (as if such a thing were possible). I’m just saying, the timing is suspicious, that’s all. Consider: Read more


Jack Shafer to cover media and politics for Reuters

New York | Jack Shafer
Jack Shafer, who recently was laid off as Slate’s media critic, is headed to Reuters to cover media and politics for its opinion section. Shafer tweets that Reuters editors “interrupted my plans to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, and criticize after dinner with an offer — which I’ve accepted — to write about media and politics for Reuters. I’m damn happy. Thanks, oh, my tweeps.” New York magazine’s Noreen Malone broke the news, saying “the tone, frequency, and length will be very similar to his output at Slate, where Shafer typically wrote shortish columns several times a week.” || Related: On Jill Abramson’s first day as New York Times executive editor, Hamilton Nolan suggests that she hire Jack Shafer as public editor. || Earlier: Shafer will continue to write for Slate, but not about media. || Advice: Following layoff, Jack Shafer tells journalists: ‘Always be looking’ Read more


‘It’s time for Slate to fully embrace its startup roots’

Reuters.com | Poynter Online
Paul Smalera suggests a Slate-Washington Post Co. divorce. “What Slate needs is a CEO, someone who can lead a spinoff, attract venture capital, talent in the engineering, sales and business staffs with the prospects of equity and a clean, er, slate, with which to reinvent the modern online magazine.” He’d like to see “a real technologist and business person” like Google News’s Josh Cohen offered the chance to transform Slate into something venture capitalists like Fred Wilson, Chris Sacca and Reid Hoffman would invest in.

Slate was the original, crazy experiment of its time. It won the fierce loyalty of a generation of readers. But it’s time to re-run the experiment, exploiting the cash-rich, talent-starved startup environment of 2011, and see what the editorial mission of Slate — indeed, of online journalism as a whole — can become over the next 15 years.

Jack Shafer was asked in today’s Poynter chat if Slate restricted what he could say about the operations there, post-layoff? “I am absolutely free to speak my mind about Slate, past, present, and future,” he said. “So, yes, if I thought their digestive tract needed a new exit point, I could dig one with a rusty butter knife.” Read more


Shafer will continue to write for Slate, but not about media

Adweek | Washington Post | Politico | AJR
Jack Shafer says he received a severance from Slate — he was laid off Wednesday, along with Tim Noah, June Thomas, and Juliet Lapidos — and was asked to continue writing as a freelancer. “I’ve accepted,” he tells Dylan Byers, but “it won’t be press coverage. I’ll stir up the press animals in another venue.” (“I hope we hire Shafer,” tweets Reuters social media editor Anthony DeRosa, “cause somebody sure as hell will.”)

Why was he let go? “It was a decision made for financial and editorial future reasons,” says Slate editor David Plotz. “Jack is obviously a brilliant journalist.” Eric Wemple writes: Shafer says he gets up at 2 a.m. to read front pages of major papers
Why Shafer once considered changing the name of his column to “Litter Box”
Shafer discovers NYT plagiarism while hunting for “Stupidest Drug Story” Read more


Slate lays off press critic Shafer, others

Adweek.com | American Journalism Review
“We have made some editorial changes, including a small reduction in our full time staff and our contractors,” says Slate editor David Plotz. “Press Box” columnist Jack Shafer confirms in an email to Adweek’s Dylan Byers that he was laid off, but says he’ll continue as a contributor. Plotz tells Byers:

The industry we’re in changes very quickly. This was a decision that made sense both financially and editorially. It was a painful decision for us. But it was a decision that we think—coupled with some new editorial and technological investments that we’re going to make—will pay off in the long run.

In a just-posted American Journalism Review profile of Shafer, Erik Wemple calls the Slate veteran “utterly uncorrupted by friendship, money, power, anything. He is ruthless with people he doesn’t know, but what is impressive is how ruthless he can be with the people he knows.”

Times executive editor Bill Keller is a fan:

I admire Shafer for taking his subject seriously enough to do his homework and think things through. He’s working in a field that sometimes seems to have been overrun by the snarkoleptics, who blow raspberries for a living. He’s fun to read, but there’s usually an actual idea in his pieces, and some reporting, and some sense of history.

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