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.

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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. Read more

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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). Read more

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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. Read more

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‘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.

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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

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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. Read more

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