The battle over Boston's NBC station

Good morning.

  1. NBC feuds with billionaire in Boston
    Billionaire broadcaster Ed Ansin has gotten rich in part of his NBC relationship but there have been many tensions. Now NBC is dropping its affiliation with his WHDH in Boston and will launch a new station in Boston in 2017, "the biggest shake-up in the local television market in two decades." (The Boston Globe) He says NBC was willing to buy his license and broadcast facility for $200 million. A pittance! He wanted $500 million. So now they'll get divorced, though litigation may come.
  2. Sharing the load out West
    Public stations KPCC in Pasadena, KPBS in San Diego, KQED in San Francisco and Capital Public Radio in Sacramento are not only not feuding but are gearing up in a collaborative effort to cover state, not local, issues in an election year. They're calling it the California Counts Collaborative. It was largely the notion of KPCC's Melanie Sill, a former newspaper editor in chief in Sacramento and Raleigh, North Carolina. It's hoped that as many as 30 journalists are involved, and they're now looking for a project manager for about $80,000. (Current) Forget those online resumes. They should look to Poland for talent (see later item, please).
  3. Menstruation never had it so good
    "For people like me who have been studying menstruation for decades, we've never enjoyed this kind of attention before," says Chris Bobel, associate professor of women's and gender studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and president of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. "I wrote a book on menstrual activism five years ago that got no attention. But now it is." Really? "This year has been epic for menstruation, with news and social media catapulting the once hush-hush topic into the open." Really? "Social media's been awash with the p-word." Mentions in major media outlets of "menstruation" have allegedly tripled in the last few years. Really? And did Donald Trump have something to do with this, too? His snide comment about Megyn Kelly of Fox was part and parcel of "a huge watershed moment." Really? "Women were refusing to take the bait that menstruation is a put-down or a silencer." (NPR) Really!
  4. Newsman gets in his licks
    There's on-air chumminess and faux camaraderie. And then there's Chicago sportscaster Mark Giangreco who co-hosted one of those inevitably banal local TV broadcasts on New Year's Eve. He announced it was the Chinese Year of the Dog and proceeded to grab and lick his co-host, Janet Davies, another veteran local reporter. She looked justifiably taken aback. (YouTube) But maybe the Federal Communications Commission rule against on-air anchor licking was suspended in a secret executive order signed by President Obama. Just like with drone strikes.
  5. Best mag cover: Caitlyn, Serena or...?
    The magazine editors announced the 50 finalists for their 10th annual Best Cover Contest. (Poynter) You want to vote and maybe win an iPad Air 2? You can vote right here. Come to think of it, offering IPad Air 2s might be a way for candidates to get Iowans to the caucuses in a few weeks. It's a bit more imaginative than the traditional big-city ward bosses' offer of cash.
  6. Weighty Gayle King news
    Thank goodness for Instagram. Want to see the footsies of the co-anchor of "CBS This Morning" on a scale? "This has NEVER happened before I weigh LESS after vacation! Doing the hula & bowing to the altar." (King) The societal benefits of the journalists' social media self-obsession are underscored. Gayle, congrats. Best to Oprah (a Weight Watchers investor).
  7. ProPublica goes "dark
    It's "the first known major media outlet to launch a version of its site that runs as a 'hidden service' on the Tor network, the anonymity system that powers the thousands of untraceable websites that are sometimes known as the darknet or dark web. The move, ProPublica says, is designed to offer the best possible privacy protections for its visitors seeking to read the site's news with their anonymity fully intact. Unlike mere SSL encryption, which hides the content of the site a web visitor is accessing, the Tor hidden service would ensure that even the fact that the reader visited ProPublica’s website would be hidden from an eavesdropper or Internet service provider." (Wired)
  8. A Polish joke
    The new conservative government is giving the finger to media organizations and the European Union by going ahead with plans to can the heads of public media. Under a new law it pushed through, it will pick whomever it desires. "Government officials say that the takeover of the public media, in which the channels’ management will become accountable to parliament, is necessary to stop criticism of the new government’s actions and to promote 'national traditions and patriotic values' in its content." (The Financial Times)
  9. Las Vegas newspaper mess (cont.)
    Have the seeds of normalcy at the Review-Journal been planted? (Poynter) Can one really assume casino mogul Sheldon Adelson won't meddle? As he awaited a flight back to Providence, Rhode Island, David Butler, editor of the Providence Journal, told me by phone that he thought the newsroom anger over the sale to Adelson and related matters had lessened appreciably during his quickie-in-and out on behalf of the folks who manage the paper. We shall see. Meanwhile, the local judge who has been a seeming target of Adelson family animus as she oversees wrongful termination litigation involving the casino mogul declines to discuss the case. "But she says she does try to put witnesses at ease in her courtroom, pointing to regular breaks she offers witnesses and supply of M&M’s. Asked whether Adelson had any candy on the stand, (Elizabeth) Gonzalez says, 'I can’t answer that question.'" (Time) We so admire discreet jurists.
  10. Finding shelter from Yahoo storm
    Rob Barrett is among the high-level executives who had their fill of Yahoo and Marissa Mayer. He was vice president of Yahoo News and Yahoo Finance but recently split and is not jobless for long. He'll oversee the digital area for Hearst's newspapers division. He's got experience in papers, notably at The Los Angeles Times, so it will be interesting to see if he can pump life into what generally is the wasteland of local newspapers' digital efforts, with a lot of it inspired by crappy technology, insufficient personnel, a lack of vision and a basic inability to produce content people will actually pay for. (WWD)
  11. Weekend update: Stay away from Billings
    If you want to see the Steelers-Bengals game Saturday night, it's best to avoid Montana. A contractual pissing match between Dish Network and Cordillera Communications, which owns the CBS affiliates in the state, has resulted in Dish denying subscribers access to Cordillera's stations. "CBS stations remain free to anyone with an antenna, but service is often spotty in rural areas." (Billings Gazette) As for Steelers-Bengals, we go with Pittsburgh, even if we wind up in Billings and have to listen on radio. And will those TSA stick constructionists let us onto a plane with an antenna and duct tape? Have a good weekend. Go Steelers, Packers, Vikings and Chiefs.
  12. Job moves and Ben Mullin are off today and back on Monday

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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