Media buckle down as blizzard blasts New York and D.C.
- With 2 guys in a news truck ad nauseam
You expected comprehensive coverage when snow engulfed the media capitals of New York and Washington, given the ability to prepare for days, and you got it. It included wonderful photography in Sunday papers (Poynter), the tales of individuals heroically getting to and from work (such as a bicycling pediatrician going miles) and even curiosities like the screwed-up snow measurement at Reagan National Airport in D.C. (The Washington Post) The TV folks were in their hyperbolic disaster cruise control mode, replete with parkas emblazoned with 6-inch-high logos, and even offering us nonstop streaming video. My favorite of the latter genre came Friday night via WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington. Go online and you could watch as a WJLA photographer (serving as driver, as photogs do) and reporter just drove around Maryland, windshield wipers going back and forth, back and forth, and the two of them rarely speaking to one another except for utter banalities. The reporter, in particular, didn't seem entranced with his assignment. The camera was mostly focused on the windshield and the road ahead. The reporter was sipping on a soda and having something to eat at one point, occasionally talking to his office, with just one quick on-air comment that I caught, then long stretches of zilch, with only the most pro forma type of occasional chatter between the two men. Stop for gas?
"We're 10 miles outside of Frederick...no anchor toss? OK...you can take our shot since we're in Montgomery County...OK...They're in a break now." Then, fleetingly, he apparently was on the air from the passenger seat. "I'm Horace Holmes...the roadway is completely covered in snow. You can't see the lane markers. We've seen a lot of 16-wheelers, working the roadways. Do be careful. I'm Horace Holmes in Upper Montgomery County. Back to you guys in the studio." He later wonders to his driver about a colleague and why she's not working this night. "She's working on her sweeps, piece, I guess," is the response. They pull into a gas station to fill up but the credit/debit card gizmo isn't working at one pump, so they go to another. You watch the driver get out, presumably to pump gas but a minute later he's cleaning the wipers with his hands, then some ice on the windshield with a scraper as Holmes stays in the car. There's no other sound other than Holmes occasionally coughing. They hit the road again. You then watch them getting back on some isolated stretch with the wipers going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth amid the cascading snow and the silence. It was all fairly engrossing by virtue of its total, generally unenlightening monotony.
- Twitter atwitter
"In a major executive upheaval, two of Twitter’s top executives — media head Katie Jacobs Stanton and product head Kevin Weil — are departing the company, according to sources close to the situation." (Re/code) It plans to bring in two new board members, including "a high-profile executive in the media industry." (The Wall Street Journal) Re/code's Kara Swisher throws out the guess (the Twitter PR folks wouldn't call back on this one after a day of her "strafing" them on related matters) that Twitter's new chief marketing officer will be Leslie Berland, "currently EVP of global advertising, marketing and digital partnerships at American Express." (Re/code) Whatever, there's still a lot of somewhat melodramatic dissection of the every move of a company that, lest we forget, has a user base of 320 million. Others crave their problems.
- Bloomberg on Bloomberg
It's never easy covering your own company or boss. But it's best to at least try. That's just not the case at Bloomberg News, the financial news giant that's also seeking to make a name for itself covering, if not monetizing, national politics. Its own daily, shifting listing of the world's richest individuals conspicuously has never included the boss, Michael Bloomberg. And now there's word of his mulling an independent presidential run. You needed a SWAT team to find it on the Bloomberg site for much of the weekend, with the only mention being a discreet link to somebody else's story. (The New York Times) That was it, a small, bullet-pointed reference and link to somebody else's story. Then on Sunday came a pretty pro forma recitation of comments Hillary Clinton made about such a Bloomberg run on "Meet the Press." (Bloomberg) Bloomberg News has big goals in political journalism, symbolized by apparently ginormous deals cut with reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who are increasing TV presences. With all due respect, it's an obvious story for them to do right now — not punditizing on TV but writing cogently on their own site — via a strong, lengthy examination of a Michael Bloomberg candidacy. The executives there should really desist in rationalizing as high-minded their radio silence in not reporting on the company or its leader (for 12 years you might not have known he was mayor of the largest city in the U.S.). And if he's got plans to perhaps run for the White House, it's not as if there's anything terribly touchy about the obvious elements of such a tale. It's a longshot for a bunch of obvious reasons. Bloomberg himself surely knows he'd have a snowball's chance. Write it.
- 'X-Files' rips Bill O'Reilly
It was make-believe, yes. But Fox brought back "The X-Files" last night — it seemed as if the Panthers-Cardinals NFC championship game was merely a warmup act, given the constant plugging during the game — and soon had Mulder and Scully in the back of a stretch limo with a conspiracy-minded Justice Department official seeking to recruit them back into action. A suspicious Mulder said, "I think you're 'The O'Reilly Factor' with a shopworn little gimmick." The Justice official responds, "What Bill O'Reilly knows about the truth could fill an eyedropper." It was make-believe, right?
- Obama on Hillary, Bernie
POLITICO's Glenn Thrush got a podcast interview with the president in which the chief executive bemoans how "the media has balkanized." But it's really focused on the Iowa caucuses and was in part a trek down memory lane for the president, who got there originally as an untested, longshot senator with a rather stiff oratorical style. It's clear again that he's a fairly ardent Clinton supporter, even if he and his campaign weren't big fans during their 2008 primary battle. Thrush discerns that Obama doesn't seem to be "buying the sort of, the easy popular dichotomy people are talking about, where (Sanders is) an analog for you and she is herself?" No, no, he responds, he doesn't. Thrush repeats, "You don't buy that, right?" He underscores, "No, I don't think — I don't think that's true." Obama adds, "I think Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete longshot and just letting loose. I think Hillary came in with the — both privilege and burden of being perceived as the frontrunner." (POLITICO)
- A judge reconsiders bad press ruling
Here's another good story that Bloomberg readers are missing: A judge ruled that 123 individuals would have to to fess up as to whether they'd spoken to either of three Bloomberg reporters regarding a company now the subject of a bankruptcy proceeding in Delaware. Amid instant protests, he's now rescinding that order. According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, "U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher S. Sontchi told the parties and Bloomberg to work together to propose a more narrowly tailored order, admitting his earlier order was too broad. Sontchi had acknowledged on Tuesday that he should have allowed Bloomberg’s objections to be heard before the parties complied with the order." The judge will still try to ferret out those who assisted the reporters, a search that the Reporters Committee and others will continue to oppose.
- 'CBS This Morning'
The CBS morning offering is clearly cutting down on the traditional fluff and it seems to be working. But the New York Post got your typical spineless, unidentified rival executive to huff, "They are starting with such a low base, when they get some new viewers, it makes a difference." (New York Post)
- If Trump does lose
If he loses in New Hampshire, maybe people will look at a piece by Byron York and said, "Oh, yeah, that was obvious." He talked to a bunch of Republican officials there and came away distinctly unclear as to whether Trump-dominated polling is accurate. "I don't see it," said one. "I don't feel it. I don't hear it, and I spend part of every day with Republican voters." (Washington Examiner)
- Gawker sells a minority stake
It announced that it sold a stake to a venture capital firm, Columbus Nova Technology Partners, which is owned by a Russia corporation controlled by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. "Gawker's corporate charter reveals that Columbus Nova will have veto power over key company decisions, despite only owning a small piece of the company." (POLITICO Media)
- Drip, drip, drip of cuts
Guardian News & Media, the publisher of The Guardian, today disclosed plans to cut costs by about 20 percent "in a bid to break even within three years and support future growth." And where have we heard this before? "A faster than expected downturn in print advertising and slower increase in digital revenues, combined with the costs of expansion overseas, means that the company’s outgoings have outpaced revenues over the past five years." (The Guardian) Well, this sure isn't one you need Mulder or Scully to figure out.
- Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Julie Patel is joining the Better Government Association. Previously, she was an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of South Florida. (@benmullin) | Job of the day: Poynter is looking for a managing editor. Get your resumes in! (Poynter) | Send Ben your job moves: email@example.com.