L.A. Times publisher getting the boot
- Frictions between Beutner, boss come to a head
Every since Tribune Co. bought Times Mirror Co. in 2000, tensions have been rampant between the West Coast giant and headquarters. It hasn't changed with different ownership of Tribune and the sharp declines of the newspaper industry. Now frictions over long-term strategy and cost cutting will lead to the exit of Times Publisher Austin Beutner, a senior Tribune Publishing official confirmed early Tuesday. The outlines of the long-simmering disputes were first reported by industry analyst Ken Doctor. (POLITICO). Beutner and New York-based Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin didn't get along, with Griffin's drives for more cost cutting a key point of difference. The departure comes just four month after Tribune bought the San Diego Union-Tribune and created a new California News Group.
- Could Colbert gin up more coverage than Trump (at least for a day)?
He debuts tonight, and perhaps only a fool would bet against somebody so talented. "None of this means Colbert will beat Fallon (although he easily could during this trying-out period). In fact, if history’s any guide, the more vanilla-flavored host has something of a competitive advantage. Nevertheless he seems well positioned to give CBS both the coolest show in late-night and the one that’s most likely to be linked to and talked about the next day, in no small part due to the void left by Jon Stewart’s departure from 'The Daily Show.' Viewed in those terms, whatever the final Nielsen tally, Colbert-CBS 2015 looks like a winning ticket." (Variety) Look for tons of press and free publicity for CBS, especially as Colbert beckons a more diverse set of guests, including corporate executives. (AP) And will he avoid inviting Donald Trump, or letting him speed dial in to filibuster?
- CNN's quiz show
First question: Why? You can stipulate that it's not a bad idea to broaden programming, knowing that ratings plummet during slow news periods. And we do live in a world where a comedian won the first round of Guatemala's presidential election Monday. (The Wall Street Journal) But the latest quiz show that surfaced Sunday night, with six CNN hosts including Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo as contestants answering questions about television, didn't work. The forced collective bonhomie was painfully plentiful and, in this election, the demeaning may have nipped the entertaining even if it was for charity. Anderson Cooper, though, looked completely at home as a game show host (he tried once before, with ABC's "The Mole"). Completely.
- Can we bet on ESPN's newest show?
Last night also brought the debut of a midnight "SportsCenter" on ESPN hosted by Scott Van Pelt. The opening was pretty pro forma and included a big technical glitch (unable to communicate with Ohio State player after his big game earlier) and the unenlightening return of ESPN alum Dan Patrick to wish him luck (as CNN's quiz show reminded, TV is nothing if not self-absorbed). The game plan here includes regular coverage of sports wagering. "We’ll do highlights specifically to show a horrendous loss for somebody that gave 7.5 points,” the host says. "We’ll do that, because people bet.” (Adweek)
- The art of editing
Whether you write for TV, a newspaper, BuzzFeed, Hollywood, you name it, check the great New Yorker writer John McPhee's advice this week on writing concisely and on the importance of omission, on what you leave out. He details his formative experiences at Time magazine and the need to "remove words in such a manner that no one would notice that anything has been removed. Easier with some writers than with others. It’s as if you were removing freight cars here and there in order to shorten a train—or pruning bits and pieces of a plant for reasons of aesthetics or plant pathology, not to mention size." He quotes the famous literary critic Harold Bloom who, writing on Shakespeare, said, “Increasingly in his work, what he leaves out becomes much more important than what he puts in, and so he takes literature beyond its limits.” (The New Yorker)
- Chinese censorship proceeds apace
The arrest and very public shaming of a reporter for a respected business publication is merely the latest example of seemingly increasing censorship. The publication's revelations "have covered such topics as illegal securities trading, stock price manipulation and falsified profits. Some of the reports have prompted regulatory investigations." We'll now see how long they last. (The New York Times)
- BBC brings suspect Welcome Wagon to local papers
"The BBC is to offer staff and content to local newspapers and allow rival shows to be seen on its iPlayer catch-up service as part of a multimillion-pound reshaping of the corporation designed to head off government attempts to reduce its output." (The Guardian) Sounds good, even if clearly a function of government pressure as far as renewing its charter to operate. But some find the plans for a new "open" BBC to be a crock and pandering to powerful critics. "Let me forecast the outcome," says one prominent observer. "When the BBC’s pool of reporters start sending in their reports and video clips from council meetings, coroners’ courts and so on, publishers will say thank you very much and seize on it as a justification to accelerate the reduction in their own journalistic staffs." (The Guardian)
- A publisher who showed unlikely nerve
Stanton Cook, 90, a former Tribune Co. CEO and Chicago Tribune publisher, died Thursday. (Chicago Tribune) He came up from the production side and came up big at an historic moment. When Richard Nixon forked over 44 pages of taped Oval Office transcripts in a Hail Mary to save his butt amid the Watergate scandal in 1974, a Tribune team flew on the corporate jet to Dulles International Airport, where they got two copies of the transcript, perused them for five minutes and then headed home, preparing them for typesetters. "It was a Herculean task, the equivalent of two or three daily newspapers, but the next morning — eight hours before the government put the transcripts on sale for $12.25 — Tribune readers for 15 cents could tackle a question posed by Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker: 'What did the president know, and when did he know it?'" It was the first paper to publish all the transcripts and soon followed with an editorial from the Republican-leaning paper urging that Nixon resign. The president had now lost the American Heartland. (Chicago Tribune) It was a different age, for sure, and the company was printing money. But Cook, a very improbable journalism hero, and his editorial team displayed an impactful mix of speed, precision, passion and spine that's a model for counterparts today.
- The Pope Channel
"Time Warner Cable is rolling out the Papal Visit 2015 channel, a sort of C-Span for fans of the pope, telecasting around the clock on Channel 199 in most areas from the opening event of Francis’ tour, a Mass in Havana on Sept. 20, until Shepherd One lifts off from Philadelphia International Airport on Sept. 27." I only hope that the real traditionalists, like those at Opus Dei, don't lobby for Latin subtitles. (The New York Times)
- Labor's media woes
The Labor Day weekend was an appropriate time to underscore that the labor movement doesn't get much systematic media attention. "The new generation of journalists has come of age during a time when the inequalities in our society have never been so stark, and when journalists themselves have never been such vulnerable members of the workforce. It’s to be hoped that this generation won’t repeat so many of the mistakes of the past, and will give labor issues, and so many other issues, the space that they deserve." Given that even most editors likely can't name the president of the AFL-CIO (their predecessors 40 or 50 years ago probably could), it may be wishful thinking. (Salon)
- Planning a holiday in Ferguson
As I checked in at a pretty uninspired Marriott in downtown St. Louis Friday, I saw one of those freebie boosterish local publications, St. Louis Where, in the lobby. "Five Great Reasons to Visit Ferguson" is emblazoned across the front. That may still be a tough sell for a bit.
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