Here's why Facebook is paying news organizations millions of dollars
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It wants to be the YouTube of social media
Facebook has cut deals with about "140 media companies and celebrities to create videos for its nascent livestreaming service, as the social network positions itself to cash in on a lucrative advertising market it has yet to tap — and keep its 1.65 billion monthly users engaged." (The Wall Street Journal)
The company will make payments to video creators totaling more than $50 million, according to The Journal. Its partners include CNN, The New York Times, Vox Media, Tastemade, Mashable and The Huffington Post, and celebrities including Kevin Hart, Gordon Ramsay, Deepak Chopra and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson. It's all about pushing folks to produce lots of high-quality videos. (Poynter) It previously indicated it would start paying creators to use its own live-streaming product. Now one learns about the extent of the initial deals.
What could this mean?
YouTube did something akin to this several years ago ago to seed its own channels, several digital executives note to me. The results were pretty mixed as it was not quite as direct a focus on big, established brands and as much as anything represented the seeding of money to grassroots talent. A financial aim was to ultimately recoup all the grant funding.
Facebook's gambit seems a way bigger deal. As one digital boss put it last night, "There's no pussyfooting about recouping the funding; it has a larger, coherent strategy to approach established brands because it believes (or had research showing) that users think having brands in their feeds elevates the quality of the Facebook experience."
And then there's what the executive deems the most important element: Mark Zuckerberg "is changing the game on live video by creating a critical mass of livestreamed events" that habituate users to the whole idea of live. It would try to get them accustomed reflexively to the concept of live by having streams constantly going. "Seeding this experience" with really big brands might create signals within the overall noise that users can then latch onto. It's about directing us amid the rising babel everywhere.
"This is really a play to model Facebook Live after YouTube," says Scott Smith, Chicago-based director of editorial content for TeamWorks Media. "In the same way that Facebook took off because all the friends you wanted to talk to were there, Facebook is betting people will use FB Live more if the people they're already watching on TV and other video channels are there." Ad rates, so-called CPMs, could wind up higher because it's video and might also include native ads. "The biggest challenge to something like this is building audience. Facebook already has that. But people are only going to watch a watermelon explode once. So this ensures a regular stream of content."
It can't get much worse for The Donald
"Trump Is on the Verge of Losing Even Republicans." (The Atlantic) "New Polls Confirm Hillary Clinton's Decisive Lead Over Donald Trump." (The Huffington Post) "Trump's Fundraising Report Exposes His Sham Campaign." (The National Review) "Donald Trump thought he could overpower the NRA. He was wrong." (Vox) "Trump is Running a Lean Operation, But Is It Too Lean?" (The New York Times) "Trump Just Collapsed in a Key Swing State." (Business Insider) "Is Trump a Manchurian Candidate?" (The Washington Post)
It might be worthwhile remembering that it's June and that his opponent is deeply unpopular herself. But the current narrative was accentuated this morning. There was talk of his poor fundraising and ad spending numbers, as well as Hillary Clinton's supposed message self-discipline. "This is a very coordinated message with one bottom line: Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to run your economy and have his finger on the button," said Joe Scarborough on "Morning Joe." It was all interspersed with the ping-pong of the campaign and obsession with campaign mechanics. "TRUMP QUESTIONS HILLARY CLINTON'S RELIGION" declared CNN's "New Day," followed by "TRUMP CAMPAIGN SHRUGS OFF MONEY CONCERNS." "CLINTON SLAMS TRUMP BUSINESS RECORD," declared "Morning Joe."
Over at Fox, there was the characteristic emphasis on terrorism (translation: President Obama, our "Commander in Contradiction," as he was called this morning, is weak) in the wake of Orlando. But it was a glass at least half filled for Trump. "Fox & Friends" cited polling showing his approval ratings greater than hers on the economy, terrorism and gun policy.
There was talk, too, of his new "rapid response" tactic of tweeting out during her speech yesterday bashing him on the economy. And there were clips of his latest (it seems daily) Fox interview, this with onetime CNN stalwart Lou Dobbs and reiterating his "crooked Hillary" refrain. Fox co-host Steve Doocey was clearly impressed that Trump was also "heavy on statistics" yesterday. The bar's been set lower than a second grader's math class on that score but, well, better than nothing.
Anonymously attacking Elizabeth Warren
"The fast rise of Sen. Elizabeth Warren within the Democratic Party has coincided with another phenomenon: the continual use by elite-media journalists of anonymous sources in articles that either criticize Warren directly or warn other politicians about the dangers of embracing her, her political style and the policies she advocates." (The Intercept) Is this a trend? At minimum, a Monday piece in Politico quotes five such sources, including "one moderate Washington Democrat" and "one top hedge fund manager," arguing that Hillary Clinton shouldn't pick Warren as running mate.
Jeffrey Lord's counterattack
The CNN conservative pundit has been hammered for reflexive defenses of Donald Trump and even called "the most grotesque person on television." Ah, yes, the subtlety of discourse these days. In particular, his general denial of racist comments by Trump has rolled eyes. Now he's got his turn in a meandering essay in which he declares, "When it comes to all of this free-flowing 'Donald Trump is a racist' business, it’s time to squarely face the race question head on. Exactly who are the real racists? Trump — or his critics from the American Left? (The American Spectator) Well, Lord does make for good TV if not Oxford-like debates on American history or current politics or policy.
The Libertarian Party gets its "town hall"
The CNN countdown clock is back in action, despite Trump and Clinton wrapping up their nominations. It's for a 9 p.m. Eastern session with Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor.
Calling for change
Nearly 200 songwriters and singers called for Congress to reform the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was passed in 1998 and they feel "has allowed technology companies to thrive while devastating the livelihoods of musicians and songwriters." Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Sting, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Jack White, Gwen Stefani, U2, Pearl Jam, Maroon 5 and Adam Lambert were among those signing the letter that ran in The Hill, Politico and Roll Call. "Unfortunately, their open letter to Congress is short on solutions." (Hypebot)
Did Trump pay 94 bucks for that taco salad?
You do remember the taco bowl tweet, right? Well, it came from the Trump cafe in his headquarters building and cost $13.50. But the cafe charge on his Federal Election Commission filing during that period says $94. It seems as if he "either bought seven taco salads that day, or had a $81 delivery fee for his taco salad," says the Political Edit, a paid newsletter. (Political Edit)
A shameful performance
Somebody had a worse day than Donald Trump. Thus, kudos to Fox for its bloodless postgame assessment of the United States' godawful performance in Houston last night against Argentina in the Copa America tournament semifinal match. It lost 4-0, though it was worse than that as Argentina, the world's No. 1-ranked team led by superstar Lionel Messi, made the Americans look like befuddled high schoolers. "There is shame when you lose this way," said Fox analyst Alexi Lalas, a former team member. "This was shameful. It's difficult to swallow." Imagine your typical network sportscaster shill saying the same after watching a U.S. national team in another sport, be it at the Olympics or elsewhere.
Baring all for ESPN
I saw very well-conditioned Chicago Cubs star pitcher Jake Arrieta walking down the block the other day with his family, attired in shorts and a T-shirt. That's at least two pieces of apparel more than you'll see him in for ESPN The Magazine's annual Body issue. Basketball stars Elena Delle Donne and Dwyane Wade will be joined by mix martial arts star Conor McGregor, NFL players Antonio Brown and Von Miller, and Team USA soccer hotshot Christen Press. (NBC Chicago) Now, how long before Politico or The Weekly Standard give us their Body issue?
Open-heart surgery for Cavuto
The Fox News and Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto, 57, had open heart surgery yesterday and is said to be on the mend.
Tribune legend passes
Jack Fuller, who passed away Tuesday of cancer at age 69, was a journalist, lawyer, prolific author-novelist, musician, Chicago Tribune editor and publisher, corporate CEO, jazz aficionado, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer, promoter of women, skeptic of the politically correct, a rigorous thinker and all-around decent guy.
He was Chicago-grounded and Ivy League sophisticated (Yale Law classmate of Bill and Hillary). He covered fires, the Vietnam War, the Supreme Court and segued seamlessly from newsroom to corporate boardroom. He could discuss the Constitution with Antonin Scalia, a onetime Justice Department colleague under Attorney General Edward Levi, or Wynton Marsalis riffs with Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich. As a Pulitzer board member, Fuller launched a personal crusade to expand the music category, which had been dominated by classical, and it resulted in the 1997 first-time win by Marsalis.
He was “a gifted translator between the newsroom and the corporate side of the company,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, whose rise to first female editor at The Chicago Tribune he helped shepherd and now runs the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. (Chicago Sun-Times) "News Values," a dry but still moving book on maintaining journalism integrity amid dramatic change, was a big reason the Chandlers sold Times Mirror to Tribune Co. in 2000 in a huge deal that history did not treat well.
"When Fuller would recount to visiting groups the Tribune's proud history of support for Abraham Lincoln, abolition, free trade and individual rights, you could almost hear 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' playing in the background." (Chicago Tribune) He helped push the company to the forefront of the Internet age, a place it's now lost to competitors.
He had a strong foundation as the winds of changes shifted, as Bob Dylan would put it. He did well by doing good and maintained an admirable integrity and sophisticated, cerebral intellect that mixed the playful and self-effacing. He had a great laugh. On the precipice of a new age of media pandering, he wasn't flawless but elevated most everything around him. It's a pretty good legacy.