phone hacking

NYT edges closer to layoffs

Good morning. Almost there. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. NYT may have layoffs, after all

    A memo from Janet Elder says the news org may not have enough buyout applications to forgo layoffs. "Early efforts to handicap the outcome regrettably point to having to do some layoffs." Also, if you take the buyout, MOMA will not let you in for free anymore. (Mother Jones) | Last month Keith J. Kelly reported that more than 300 people had filed buyout applications, but many were "just securing their rights and checking it out," Guild unit rep Grant Glickson said. (NY Post) | Floyd Norris is taking the buyout. (Talking Biz News) | More N.Y. Guild news: Eight Guild members who worked at Reuters' Insider video project are losing their jobs. (The Newspaper Guild of New York) | Time Inc. has declared it's at an "impasse" with the union and "can begin unilaterally imposing many of the terms, including the right to farm out up to 60 full-time jobs while slashing vacation and medical benefits and eliminating voluntary buyout provisions from future layoffs." The Guild has asked the NLRB to investigate. (NY Post)

  2. Aereo files for bankruptcy

    The "challenges have proven too difficult to overcome," the company says. (Aereo) | "Aereo's CEO told early VCs: This either will be the best investment of your career, or it will be a total loss. There is no in between." (@danprimack)

  3. Networks on Obama's immigration reform speech:


    ABC, NBC and CBS gave it a "collective shrug," Erik Wemple reports. "Asked whether the White House formally requested coverage, the White House wouldn’t even provide the Erik Wemple Blog an on-the-record response." (WP) | New York Post front: "Bamnesty" | "Sí se pudo": How La Opinión and El Diario La Prensa covered the speech. (WP)

  4. Gatehouse parent co. buys Halifax newspapers

    New Media Investment Group will pay $280 million for Halifax's 36 newspapers, which include 24 dailies. (NMIG) | NMIG will be the Worcester (Massachusetts) Telegram & Gazette's third owner in 16 months. (T&G)

  5. Phone hacking scandal principals move on

    Rebekah Brooks may be named editor of the New York Post, Leela de Kretser writes in a kicky inaugural column for Capital. She and her family are "ensconced in an Upper East Side pad." (Capital) | Former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson got out of jail early. (The Guardian)

  6. Your daily BuzzFeed links

    Should BuzzFeed EIC Ben Smith have disclosed that some of his publication's backers have invested in Uber competitors? It's "easy to see this sort of thing creating an endless rabbit hole," Peter Kafka writes. (Re/code) | BuzzFeed has discovered that "social URLs" -- think back to the punny headlines you may have written before Google ruined all your fun -- can "act like a rocket booster for a post," Lucia Moses reports. Note the URL on the story. (Digiday)

  7. #Pointergate: The timeline

    Corey Hutchins writes a fabulous tick-tock of KSTP's ludicrous non-story and its risible attempts to defend it. Owner Stanley Hubbard confirms the station's initial tip came from "the police federation guy" and says the station polled viewers after it became a national laughingstock for running it: "We just did a major study—we wanted to find out the public reaction—I haven’t got the number exactly, but it’s something like 65 or 70 percent of the people don’t care one way or the other. But interestingly, of those who are aware of the story, 52 percent of black people say, ‘Good for you, right on.’” (CJR) | The Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists calls the story "fundamentally flawed." (MNSPJ) | A big takeaway from all this from David Brauer: "Primarily, we should be vigilant about civilian control of police." (Southwest Journal) | Hubbard called a sponsor's decision to pull advertising from KSTP "unbelievable." Finally, something KSTP finds hard to believe. (MPR News)

  8. HuffPost may host Jill Abramson-Steven Brill startup

    A "decision on a deal is likely to be made soon," David Carr and Ravi Somaiya report. (NYT)

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

    The Washington Post goes big on Obama's immigration action. (Courtesy the Newseum)

  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Dan Lyons is now editor-in-chief at Valleywag. Previously, he was a marketing fellow at HubSpot. (Re/code) | Rachel Racusen will be vice president of communications at MSNBC. Previously, she was associate communications director for the White House. (Playbook) | Jeff Fager will be an executive producer at "60 Minutes". Previously, he was chairman of CBS News. (Politico) | Nitasha Tiku is now a west coast senior writer at The Verge. Previously, she was editor-in-chief of Valleywag. (Business Insider) | Jason Kravarik is now a producer at CNN. Previously, he was assistant news director at KOIN in Portland, Oregon. (TV Spy) | Job of the day: The Rockford (Illinois) Register Star is looking for an editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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News Corp’s revenue falls

News Corp

Revenue at News Corp’s news and information division fell 6 percent in the last quarter of the corporation’s fiscal year, and 9 percent in the full year, when compared with the respective same periods the year before.

“The majority of the revenue decline reflects lower advertising revenues at the News and Information Services segment, the sale of LMG and foreign currency fluctuations, partially offset by strong performance in the Book Publishing and Digital Real Estate Services segments,” the company says in an earnings release. “LMG” refers to Dow Jones’ Local Media Group, which the company sold last September.

Overall revenue was down 3 percent in the fourth quarter and 4 percent for the year. Circulation and subscription revenues were down 5 percent in the year, the report says. Advertising revenue in the news division, which includes Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, was down 10 percent in the year.

News Corp paid $169 million, with $72 million “net of indemnification” from former corporate sibling 21st Century Fox, in matters related to the U.K. phone hacking investigations, or as News Corp puts it, “related to the claims and investigations arising from certain conduct at The News of the World.” Those matters cost the company $183 million the previous year. Read more


Google protesters arrested; what @SavedYouAClick won’t do

mediawiremorning Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Net neutrality protesters reportedly arrested at Google HQ: Valleywag’s Nitasha Tiku and TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas report that members of a group called Occupy Google were arrested outside Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters early this morning. (Valleywag; TechCrunch)
  2. Source spot: New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan draws a line between “serious and valid use of confidentiality” and anonymity granted for sources relaying “what is often, in essence, officially approved government communication, or for promoting their own political agenda.” (NYT)
  3. Phone-hacking stories you might actually want to read: The criminal case against several former News Corp employees “is not the final word on whether either editor, News Corp., or much of the British tabloid press has betrayed the principles of journalism,” Ken Auletta writes. “Ethical failures may not merit a jail term; they do merit a spotlight.” (The New Yorker) || A superb explainer about the trial by Patrick Smith and Alan White. (BuzzFeed) || No verdict in misconduct charges for former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson (Digital Spy)
  4. Peter Hirschberg resigns from Bloomberg News: “I am especially proud of the work we did in lifting the veil on the vast wealth accumulated by the families of China’s ruling elite,” he tells Chris Roush (Talking Biz News)
  5. No conflict: New York Times intern Teddy Schleifer has previously been a speechwriting intern for Delaware Gov. Jack Martell and on the 2012 Obama campaign. “We are confident that his work for us is solid, accurate and fair, and that we can avoid any potential conflicts of interest,” Times standards editor Philip Corbett tells Paul Farhi. (The Washington Post)
  6. Disappointing, deflating, and awful: About 70 percent of the people who answered Poynter’s poll are pro-Oxford comma. (Poynter) Those people are mistaken, for reasons I explained in a series of tweets.
  7. When corrections aren’t enough: Baynard Woods suggests a “Kick-the-Can firing squad” for egregious errors. (Baltimore City Paper)
  8. Dying for access: A New Orleans funeral home was swamped with calls after a New York Times story on its “non-traditional” funerals, in which loved ones are posed as they might have been in life (sitting behind a table with smokes and drinks, for example). “People have been calling about doing reality shows, documentaries, movies,” Lyelle Bellard tells Jed Lipinski. ( Times-Picayune)
  9. Georgia State administrators shouldn’t worry that they might be sued if they accept a counterproposal from alumni who want to keep WRAS under student control instead of following through on an agreement to let Georgia Public Broadcasting get most of its airtime, Adam Goldstein writes. That would amount to them suing themselves, an affront to “principles of judicial economy and basic sanity.” (Student Press Law Center)
  10. “Curiosity gap” headlines rarely pay off: @SavedYouAClick founder Jake Beckman says he makes “a point not to do this with articles that are long-form and require a nuanced response or point-of-view to really fill the reader in, because I understand that oversimplifying things is not for every story. But I think that a large part of the stories that are tweeted today, they’re very lightweight content that could have been answered in the original tweet and if the readers were interested, they would have clicked through.” (Capital)

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Online publications not sure how British regulatory scheme will affect them

The Guardian | | The New York Times
Bloggers and online publishers aren’t clear on how a proposed press-regulation scheme in Great Britain will affect them, Lisa O’Carroll reports. The proposed law — which could lead to high libel fines for bloggers — defines “a website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine)” as a “relevant publisher” subject to regulation and orders of damages.

Cabinet member Maria Miller told Parliament “the new rules were designed to protect ‘small-scale bloggers,’” O’Carroll writes.

[I]t is hard to envisage a workable definition of a news site, whether it be by staff numbers, content or location of servers,” Ian Dunt writes in He also reports that several publishers are considering boycotting the scheme. Read more


As BBC strikes, Brits trust journalists less than Americans do

Ipsos MORI | International Herald Tribune | The Drum | Associated Press
Good news for British journalists: At least you’re not politicians. Those public servants were the only group trusted less by Britons than members of the press, according to an Ipsos MORI poll published Friday. Only 21 percent of adults in Britain trust journalists to tell the truth; 72 percent do not trust them. Even members of parliament in general did better than journos (23 percent trust them to tell the truth) despite their proven ability to put together scandals like a recent one involving a speeding ticket, a spurned wife and … oh yeah, a journalist. Read more

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I visited the Leveson Inquiry on ‘the dullest day yet’

It seemed an inspired idea: Stroll just a few minutes down the road and observe part of that morning’s Leveson Inquiry at London’s Royal Courts of Justice.

What could be better than absorbing an important bit of press history by attending a public inquiry into the “culture, practices and ethics” of the British press?

This, I thought to myself as I walked along The Strand yesterday, is how you really #partylikeajournalist in a foreign city.

“Right,” said the woman at the information desk when I asked for directions to the Leveson media tent. “Walk straight to the end of the main hallway through the two arches — you can of course choose which one to go through — then turn to the right and walk to the end of the hallway. Exit outside and there’s a big marquee. You can’t miss it.”

Right she was.

I walked the hallway laid with mosaic floors, as the sun poured through the windows high atop the hundreds years-old building. I looked up at portraits of what I could only assume were eminent justices of the past. Two barristers brushed past me, decked out in robes and wigs. Visions of the Magna Carta danced in my head.

‘It’s a recurring cycle’

The idea to visit Leveson occurred during a morning meeting with Martin Moore of the Media Standards Trust, an organization that builds tools to encourage media transparency, and that also advocates on behalf of greater press accountability. Moore was twice a witness at Leveson, first on February 8, and more recently on July 10, when he advocated for a new form of press self-regulation.

For his July testimony, Moore delivered as his written submission a substantive document that outlined a proposal to overhaul self-regulation of the British press, “A Free and Accountable Media.”

We met on Tuesday morning and he handed me a hard copy just over 100 pages, written by Moore and Dr. Gordon Neil Ramsay, a Media Standards Trust research fellow, in conjunction with a distinguished panel of reviewers.

Moore said that Leveson was merely the latest in a series of inquires into the British press.

“It’s a recurring cycle,” he told me.

There have been Royal Commissions on the press in 1947-49, 1961-62, 1974-77.

“Each time, reform of self-regulation has been recommended; each time, the press has avoided implementing these reforms in full,” Moore et al wrote in their submission.

There were also two related reports issued in 1990 and 1993, the latter of which, they wrote, “noted with some anger that — again — changes had been self-serving and insufficient. The phrase ‘last chance saloon’, when used with regard to the British press, has attained the status of parody.”

Then phone hacking happened. And now: Leveson.

The public hearings started in November and will wrap up soon. Justice Leveson is expected to deliver his report in October, close to a year after hearings began.

Moore recommended I go to witness the process in action. Don’t bother with the courtroom, he advised, head to the press tent outside. I was promised a more interesting atmosphere among my colleagues, and a better chance to hear and view the proceedings. The sight lines in courtroom 73, apparently, aren’t too conducive to reporting.

Dull and dreary

The Royal Courts of Justice

“Are you press?” asked a woman in a black robe seated near the back of the tent.

I realized I had no press card with me. Not even a business card.

“Yes,” I whispered. “Okay,” she said.

I was in.

The tent was more substantial than I’d expected. Its top was strung with a canvas-like fabric, while the sides were permanent — like a mobile home. I counted roughly 170 chairs on the press side of the tent.

The side reserved for members of the public was, as far as I could tell, exactly the same: several large televisions sat at the front of the room showing, variously, a video feed from the courtroom, a live transcript of the proceedings, and any relevant background documents.

There was a row of heaters/air conditioners at the front, along with several photocopiers, secured — along with the TVs — behind a red rope line. Signs on the wall reminded us that eating, drinking, photography and recording were forbidden. (So much for partying like a journalist.)

Of the roughly 170 chairs only one was occupied by another member of the press. Or, to put it more accurately, there was at least one other man who’d answered yes when asked if he was press.

There was also a lone man on the public side. He sat in the front row.

We journalists gravitated more toward the middle. You know, to blend in.

At one point the other journalist thumped on his chest, near his heart, with a closed fist. It was either minor angina or perhaps an attempt to stimulate a flagging circulation system. Based on the testimony taking place on screen, I guessed the latter.

The witness at Leveson that morning was a lawyer with the country’s data protection office. That meant a lawyer was questioning a lawyer, under the watchful eye of another lawyer turned judge.

At one point, the lawyer asking the questions zeroed in on one issue to see if it was open for debate and interpretation. The witness agreed it was.

“There’s always room for argument,” Leveson said, a twinkle in his eye.

“In our trade,” the witness agreed.

The journalist in front of me, who wore a short-sleeved white dress shirt and a tie, flipped through the pages of the witness’ submission. When the witness was excused and Leveson took a short break, I moved up a few rows to ask him how this day compared to others.

“This is a dull phase,” he told me, referring to the fact that Leveson was now in the final of four “modules.” This one is looking at possible regulatory regimes and “ways forward for the future.”

The reporter turned to the woman at the back in the black robe. “This may have been the dullest day,” he said. “What do you say, the dullest day so far?”

She nodded.

His name was Brian Farmer and he was with Press Association, the national newswire. It was his job to write up anything interesting that had happened. He didn’t think there was anything to write about the morning thus far. The stuff he and others from the PA have been writing of late wasn’t getting much interest, either.

“It’s not making it in the paper,” he said. “There’s no celebrities, just endless dreary testimony … yesterday they had a bunch of philosophers talking about the underlying philosophical idea of freedoms.”

“I don’t know what to write about today, it’s dull,” Farmer said.

He was rolling his eyes with his words.

“The Guardian tends to be running it on their website, but that’s almost like a trade journal,” he said, referring to the fact that The Guardian does a lot of media coverage and broke the phone hacking story news that led to the Leveson inquiry.

I asked if there were more journalists present when some of the big media executives testified.

Sometimes, he said. Some celebrities and prominent people had also testified.

“They all say the same thing, really: you must allow for serious investigative stories,” Farmer said, “but I don’t want anyone to write them about me.”

It must have been full when Hugh Grant testified, right?

“Oh it was jammed, it was teeming,” he said. “When Hugh Grant was here it was quite fun.”

The woman at the back agreed.

“Politicians are the other one,” Farmer said. “Celebrities and politicians. [Culture Secretary] Jeremy Hunt giving evidence and [former prime ministers] John Major and Tony Blair, and when Rupert Murdoch came.”

I asked who was up in the afternoon, though I wasn’t able to stay.

“I think it’s Ofcom,” he said, referring to the British communications regulator. “It can’t be anybody exciting.”

Farmer flipped to the next day’s agenda and saw some hope. Max Mosley, the former head of Formula One, was first up in the morning. He was kind of a celebrity.

Of course, he’d already testified previously about his own experience with the tabloids. Mosley won a court decision in 2008 against Murdoch’s News of the World after the paper played up a false front page story that Mosley had participated in a Nazi-themed orgy.

“They spelled his name wrong,” Farmer said, holding his finger under Mosley’s mangled last name on the witness sheet.

Tomorrow promised a better day, but it seemed all the action at Leveson had taken place months ago, when the Inquiry looked at the practices of the tabloids, and the relationship between the press and the police.

Moore told me that because of the phone hacking investigation and ongoing prosecutions, Leveson hadn’t been able to delve into who did what and when. So instead the Inquiry moved into other areas of the press, such as ownership and regulation.

Given the history of press inquiries, I couldn’t help wonder if I’d stumbled upon the early phase of the inquiry-recommendation-inaction cycle kicking into gear.

“This is the first day, if you discount you, that I’m the only one,” Farmer told me.

It’s like I wasn’t even there. Read more

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Dow Jones President Todd Larsen steps down

Todd Larsen has resigned as president of Dow Jones & Co., says a company press release. Larsen was touted as a potential replacement for Les Hinton, who resigned as CEO of Dow Jones last July, saying he wasn’t aware of the phone-hacking that went on when he was executive chairman of News International, which like Dow Jones is owned by News Corp. “That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp, and apologize to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World,” Hinton wrote in his resignation letter. Hinton resigned the same day Rebekah Brooks resigned the top spot at News International.

Larsen enjoyed a special status within the company’s upper reaches at the time: He’d been there more than a decade, so he wasn’t an outsider, nor was he a Murdoch crony. “Larsen came to News Corp. under its previous ownership from Booz Allen Hamilton, and his distance from the scandal could make him a safe bet,” Lucia Moses wrote in an article about who might replace Hinton.

Dow Jones appointed Lex Fenwick to the role in February. Fenwick used to run Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Ventures, both entities arguably an even safer corporate distance from the phone-hacking scandal. Read more


A New York Times correction notes The Daily News did cover the parliamentary hacking report issued this week in the U.K.:

An article on Wednesday about Colin Myler, former editor of The News of the World and current editor of The Daily News, who has become part of the hacking scandal story at Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers, described incorrectly Daily News coverage on Tuesday about a parliamentary report on the scandal. The Daily News’s Web site did indeed publish information about the report, an article by The Associated Press; it is not the case that the Web site published ”nothing.”

The New York Times


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