Seriously, no joke: Univision invests in The Onion

Good morning.

  1. Yes, Univision grabs the satire bastion
    As the Univision website declared, "Univision invierte en 'The Onion,'" meaning it is investing in the Chicago-based publication. (Univision) It acquires a 40 percent, controlling stake, which gets it the Onion site, The A.V.Club, and a social media satire site called Clickhole. (NPR) "Randy Falco, Univision's CEO, and Isaac Lee, its president of news and digital, have concluded that humor is a key ingredient to appeal to the millennial palate." Now there's searing socio-cultural insight! "They hope to build on The Onion's traffic for their existing digital sites, which are experiencing marked growth but not yet enjoying much in the way of profits." The Onion, which was born in Madison, Wisconsin, stopped printing and went all digital in 2013. It's hopscotched from Madison to New York to Chicago. (Crain's) Humor is also a key ingredient to enduring a winter in Chicago, where one will apparently continue to find an Onion staff that broke word yesterday of the NCAA investigating God for giving gifts to athletes. (The Onion) I do hope that further pleases the millennial palate, even if it results in God's brief suspension by the NCAA and his All-Heaven team being banned from postseason play this year. No chance, I guess, for that dream matchup between All-Heaven and Notre Dame.
  2. A war photog who's had enough
    Eros Hoagland has been a conflict photographer, just like his dad, who died at age 36 while covering the war in El Salvador for Newsweek in 1984. (The New York Times) He's seen a lot of very bad stuff and tried to keep his emotional distance. But now, after covering conflict and corruption in Mexico, he's had enough. "I don't believe photo journalism is a very important job. My pictures and those of my colleagues don't really change anything. So let's not pretend they do. You want to help people? Become a doctor in a poor neighborhood where people can't afford health care. My dad died, my buddy lost both of his legs, my buddy Jim lost his head. Enough is enough. I did it, I did it well. It's time to move on to the next thing. I feel a helleuva lot better for it." He has a child on the way and he no longer cares for the risk of it all. His very personal video essay about what he's endured and why he's exiting is the finale of a six-part series, "Conflict," by a Brooklyn-based documentary firm, Redfitz. (The Atlantic) Hoagland's contribution is a rather compelling six minutes.
  3. Bloomberg's curious co-hosting
    The invitation is to the Jan. 31 "Snowflake Garden Brunch" in Des Moines "in celebration of the Iowa caucuses." In fact, it's a fundraiser for Blue Star Families, a nonprofit group of military spouses who seek "to create a platform where military family members can join civilian communities and leaders to discuss the challenges of military life." It's sponsored by major corporations, including Amerigroup, a large insurer and health care operator, and Pfizer, the giant pharmaceutical firm. Its "co-hosts" are led by Tammy Haddad, an irrepressible Washington media consultant, prodigious connector and event planner who's a former longtime TV producer (she hosts the celebrity-filled "in" party, which I have attended, prior to each year's White House Correspondents' Association dinner). She's assisted in her co-hosting duties at this Iowa event by two political partisans, Democrat and communications strategist Hillary Rosen, who is former chief lobbyist for the recording industry, and attorney Ben Ginsberg, a Republican and longtime party aide de camp. She's also assisted in those co-host roles by two Bloomberg political reporters and TV pundits, namely Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. So you have two journalists co-hosting an event with partisans that's sponsored by major corporations routinely covered by Bloomberg (which declines to discuss this on the record). But it's part and parcel of the new world of media branding, even for an organization with strong ethical norms. This one arguably should not have been a very close call.
  4. A New York City bastion in peril
    New York's once-thriving Spanish language El Diario is cutting to shreds (in half) a small newsroom staff of about 25, prompting an outraged op-ed in its pages by a city council member (El Diario). Its circulation is down to about 27,000 and the NewsGuild, which represents its employees, says the move deals "a devastating blow to an already overstretched, demoralized newsroom. With these cuts, Impremedia will severely degrade the quality news coverage that hundreds of thousands of Spanish-speaking readers depend on nationwide." (NewsGuild) How long does the actual print version stay alive?
  5. Clinton's social media effort meets stiff competition
    It's said to be modeled after the likes of BuzzFeed and Vox. (USA TODAY). "Yet, in this election, 'resources don’t necessarily mean they’ll resonate more or create more of a discussion on the platform,' said Jenna Golden, Twitter’s director of political ad sales. While the Democrat’s Brooklyn-based team crafts images and stories optimized for mobile viewing targeted at both broad and specific demographic audiences, Republican candidate Donald Trump’s approach is more basic: He sits at his computer and sends out missives. And Bernie Sanders, her main rival for the Democratic nomination, has more overall digital interactions than Clinton." The end results so far? Here's one take: "Trump’s posted over 5,000 times since June, mostly on Twitter, according to CrowdTangle, a social analytics tool that monitors social media. Since June of last year, Trump has generated nearly 85 million interactions (positive and negative) on his campaign accounts, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Sanders comes in at 34.6 million and Clinton at 31 million."
  6. A dubious court ruling
    "A bankruptcy judge in Delaware has ordered more than 120 people to reveal any contact with Bloomberg reporters in the last 60 days, prompting the news outlet to ask a state district court to overrule the judge's order and sparking an outcry from a broad coalition of media organizations." (The Huffington Post) The judge cites supposed leaks of sensitive information in the case involving a mining company and ordered debtors, creditors and their lawyers to fess up to any contacts with Bloomberg News. This involves stories by Bloomberg reporter Jodi Xu Klein. Bloomberg is backed by media representatives, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, but they all got spurned by the judge Tuesday, with Bloomberg now filing an appeal. Bloomberg is also formally supported by The Associated Press, First Look Media, Inc., Gannett Co., Inc., The McClatchy Company, National Public Radio, Inc., Tribune Publishing Company and The Washington Post. (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
  7. Why a reporter didn't beat Sean Penn to the punch
    Gerardo Reyes, the head of Univision's investigative unit, was offered an exclusive interview in September 2013, with Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known also as "El Chapo." The crook insisted on final approval of the interview. Univision said no, unlike Penn and Rolling Stone. (The Washington Post) If you missed it, Penn was short of convincing about the whole matter, and how he's misunderstood by all of us, on "60 Minutes" Sunday. (CBS)
  8. The BuzzFeed giant grows
    It launched BuzzFeed Japan, it's 11th international edition. "Unlike its previous expansions, which are fully owned by BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed Japan is a joint partnership with Yahoo Japan. BuzzFeed owns a 51 percent stake and Yahoo Japan has a 49 percent stake in the venture." Yahoo Japan claims it reaches 88 percent of Japanese Internet users and generates 56 billion page views per month. (NiemanLab)
  9. Iranian-born reporter barred from U.S.
    Rana Rahimpour, a pregnant British BBC reporter who was born in Iran, was spurned at London's Heathrow Airport from getting on a plane to visit relatives in New Jersey. The Obama administration is implementing new visa restrictions on some dual nationals. But the U.S. claims it hasn't started to deny applications under the new law, presumably meaning that the reporter shouldn't have been barred due to her Iranian background. This new law impacts those who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan since 2011 but seems ambiguous about dual citizens. Anyway, she's also stuck with her two-year-old in tow amid apparent bureaucratic confusion over how the regulations relate to dual citizens. (POLITICO) Ironically, it was precisely the fact that Iran deemed the Washington Post's Jason Rezaian a dual American-Iranian that led partly to his mess that finally ended Saturday.
  10. Looking back at the O.J. trial
    Yes, it was 20 years ago, so The New Yorker decides to check back on what its writers were saying about the trial at the time. Just consider how Adam Gopnik quickly discerned it as very much of a media story that underscored how “the triumph of cable television is now complete. Life unfolds today on television, and newspapers and magazines must play the role of the Greek chorus, commenting on the action.” And, when it came to the responses of Americans, he found those intertwined with a growing popular take on the news: "We, as Americans, no longer believe in the integrity of events; that is, we are no longer able to accept events at their own value—horrifying or funny or just sordid — but must see them as episodes in a drama, by some unknown author.The growth of the paranoid style of explanation — the belief that the truth is hidden beneath the surface of events—has become absolute." That was 20 years ago. He sort of nailed it, didn't he? (The New Yorker)


  11. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Steve Sabato is now director of development and community engagement at WWSB in Sarasota, Florida. Previously, he was director of news and digital content there. (Rick Gevers) | Hamish Nicklin will be chief revenue officer at The Guardian. Previously, he was managing director of the UK arm of AOL. (The Guardian) | Lilly Rockwell will cover tech companies for the Austin American-Statesman. Previously, she was a city hall reporter there. (@LillyRockwell) | Job of the day: PBS Newshour is looking for an associate production manager. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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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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