Good morning. Here’s our morning roundup of all the media news you need to know. Want to get this briefing in your inbox every morning? Subscribe here.
So George Will is leaving the Republican Party and becoming unaffiliated. He’s unhappy with Donald Trump, though if his weekend column supporting Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union had displayed Trump’s own byline, instead, one might not have known much of a difference, other than the ruse of polysyllables (like monomaniacal, sclerotic, viscosity and, yes, nomenklatura). “The revival of nationhood is a prerequisite for the reinvigoration of self-government through reclaimed national sovereignty.” (The Washington Post)
It’s unlikely a single columnist’s dissent could have an impact on the election, but let’s hope he doesn’t need as much help finding an ideologically-satisfying resting place as he once did in conceiving an opening-day column on the Chicago Cubs. A newspaper editor chum reminded me Sunday how it was 1987 when USA Today reported, “Will had some harsh words for fellow columnist Mike Royko at a Macmillan cocktail party honoring Will, George Plimpton and Miss Manners. Policy dispute? No. Will thought Royko did a lousy job replacing Chicago Cubs sportscaster Harry Caray. Later, Will got his chance at doing color commentary for his favorite team. ‘I did my homework,’ Will said primly.”
Chicago’s Royko then wrote that he was surprised since he’d been thinking of sending Will congratulations on being voted the second-best newspaper columnist in America by Washington Journalism Review readers. Guess who was No. 1? Modesty forbid Royko from saying. (In fact, readers had voted him No. 1 three years running.) “And I’ve long envied his versatility,” wrote The Chicago Tribune superstar of Will, “as when he secretly helped prepare President Reagan for a TV debate, then went on the air to say what a masterful job Reagan had done.” (Chicago Tribune)
Royko recalled how Cubs partisan Will had once called, asking him to send all his Cubs columns since Will was considering writing one for Opening Day. Well, there were many and this was in the pre-digital age. Royko’s assistant, or “legman,” said no friggin way. They were too scattered, it was too much work and Will had a reputation for lifting quotes and other material, she said. So she never sent Will anything. But Royko claimed he was happy to hear Will did a nice job on the broadcast because “As George primly put it, ‘I did my homework.'”
Royko concluded, “And I want him to know that I’m sorry that my secretary wouldn’t let me help him with his homework.” One hopes he gets more aid seeking shelter from the Trump storm.
Brexit aftermath mulled this morning
“The elites are apoplectic,” said Stuart Varney with relish (from vacation in Massachusetts) in discussing Brexit on “Fox & Friends.” Long-term, it was claimed, a breakup of the European Union and Great Britain “could be to America’s advantage.” Yes, yes, the theme of Britain standing up to all these faceless bureaucrats in Brussels “bossing” Brits around was then echoed back in the studio, mixed with all the suitable comparisons to Donald Trump’s anti-immigration positions. They even defended him from all “the left” meanies who bashed Trump for talking about his Scottish golf course Friday after the Brexit vote. Nobody on the Fox show seemed to mention that before leaving Scotland, Trump dined with their boss, Rupert Murdoch. (CNN)
CNN, too, focused on the vote as Ali Velshi, an Al Jazeera America refugee back on his former home’s air, said “the whole thing was a farce” and those pushing the exit were spewing “lie after lie after lie.”
Facebook play favorites!
Can you possibly imagine? “Not all publishers are created equally, especially by digital media’s new platform overlords. A small group of high-profile publishers have the equivalent of a platform black card: they’re called on to help create and test new features and are first to launch them, giving them more time to test and learn. Three indisputable platform darlings are The New York Times, CNN and BuzzFeed.” (Digiday)
Says Vivian Schiller, a former executive at NPR, The New York Times and Twitter who now advises media companies and brands, “The problem with that is, you’re leaving out the big categories; you’re leaving out local media.” Yup. The Lakeville, Connecticut Journal gets less attention than The New York Times. Our world is rife with inequality.
Class, listen up, your Brexit vocab test
TechCrunch suggests this new lexicon:
“Eurogeddon: The amount of funding for European startups will drop by 20 percent or greater by the end of the year. Approximately 50 percent of European funding is from London, and London dominates the later stage funding rounds.”
“Berlinifacation: If London is out, then who will dominate the decimated European startup scene? Berlin, of course.”
“Corpacolapse: The corporate appeal of the Commonwealth to startups will dry up overnight. No startup in their right mind will go to a rainy island with no market and a stalled VC industry to incorporate a business.” (TechCrunch)
Oh, haven’t had your fill of Brexit stories? Here is a compendium of 52 Brexit analyses. (REDEF) Personal favorite: a pre-vote analysis of why an exit would be bad for the international fashion industry. (Business of Fashion)
Writers, imagine running your own ball team
Independent league baseball teams are last-gasp locales for young and seemingly washed-up Major League baseball players harboring dreams to play, or get back, to The Big Show.
So what happened last summer when two writers with backgrounds in baseball statistics got to run an independent-league baseball team in California called the Sonoma Stompers? “We signed players, guided strategy and told the fielders where to stand for the most effective defense. We had no experience running a team, but we did have data, and we promised the owner of the Stompers that we would use it to build a new kind of baseball team.” They did pretty well, especially as their data led them to one diamond-in-the-rough pitcher. Their greatest contribution was less adding him to their roster than paving the way for him to leave and sign with the Milwaukee Brewers. (The Wall Street Journal)
Stuart Stevens on Corey Lewandowski
It remains unclear if Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, signed a non-disclosure agreement that includes a non-disparagement clause. (The Washington Post) Such provisions can be found dubious in a court of law. But the whole matter of his hooking up with CNN continues to confound some, including Stuart Stevens, the consultant-author-novelist who ran Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.
“This is Trump’s dream,” he told me in the car driving to Vermont. “Nothing negative said about him. And he fulfills that by having CNN hiring somebody who can’t say anything negative about him. It’s a normalization of Trump and these thugs. No candidate in modern history has threatened journalists in such fashion, notably female journalists. So Jake Tapper and Lewandowski are colleagues. This is how guys like Trump work in other countries. This is the way a strong man works his will. It’s amazing.”
Referring to Jeffrey Lord, CNN’s current top Trump defender, he says, “If Lord got a bug up his ass and wants to call Trump a crypto fascist, he wouldn’t get sued.” Lewandowski’s deal possibly means that he himself might wind up a defendant.
Messi vs. LeBron
Who’s greater? The soccer star or the basketball great? Slate underscores the obvious, namely that “LeBron is the greatest American basketball player in a sport dominated by Americans, Lionel Messi is the greatest player in a sport that is played by almost everyone in the world. And, unlike LeBron, Messi is not a physical anomaly.” But this argues that as long as he doesn’t lead Argentina to a World Cup win, he’ll fall short of James. (Slate)
That’s obviously debatable. And if you saw him last night in the Copa America championship game in New Jersey, he was great, again, but fell short as Chile upended Argentina on penalty kicks, with Messi actually missing his. A bit of bad fortune for the world second best-paid athlete (Cristiano Ronaldo is said to be No. 1). (Forbes)
Counsel for media startups
Brian Lam founded The Wirecutter, a tech review site centered on picking the “best” product in various categories. He didn’t have any venture capital to start. But he had what he deems “big ideas.” Lam came from a journalism background at Wired and Gizmodo and believes a lot of other media wannabes have it all backwards. “A lot of these new companies, the mission is business: ‘We want to get as many eyeballs as possible.’ It’s not, ‘This is what we believe and this is what we’re going to write about and this is how we’re going to help people.’” He discusses all on a Recode Media podcast. (Recode)
David (Iceland) vs. Goliath (England) today
Roger Bennett of England’s droll “Men in Blazers” duo crafts a wonderful 12-minute piece for Vice Sports on the totally amazing performance of the Iceland national soccer team at the ongoing European championships. How has the smallest country (325,000) ever to qualify for a major tournament pulled it off? How it is that a full-time dentist is co-coach? How is it that they announce the makeup of a starting team at a bar before each game, so diehard fans learn before the press? It’s a great tale, fueled by the decision to build lots of artificial turf fields with public money to circumvent the pretty awful weather and rocky conditions found most everywhere. (YouTube) Their win-or-go-home game against mighty England in the European championships in France is this morning.
Really? A future Bloomberg terminal competitor?
Sentieo, a startup started by a 35-year-old former hedge fund analyst, “is the latest upstart financial data platform seeking a slice of the lucrative financial information provider market long synonymous with Bloomberg’s famous terminals.” (New York Post) For now, Sentieo has 85 finance clients, paying up to $1,000 a month, a whole lot less than the $21,000 a year Bloomberg costs. Bloomberg is the king of the category, without $8.9 billion in financial markets revenue last year, while Thomson Reuters trails at about $6.5 billion, according to one consulting firm. A new kid on the block has a long way to go.
On the death of photographer Bill Cunningham
“Go to any fashion show and you can see it: a woman or man in a colorful, kooky get-up, swarmed by photographers jostling for the best shot and calling, ‘Look over here!’ and, ‘Who are you wearing?’ — lemmings in the land of the look-at-me.” (The New York Times) Cunningham, a pioneer on street fashion, wasn’t part of that cadre. “Since his death on Saturday, many of the memorials and the hagiographies that have poured out over the internet have dubbed Bill the father of street style, and rightly so. Still, a more accurate way to think of him might be as someone who applied the tenets of visual journalism to fashion.”
Phallic corn dogs
Local, local, local. Here’s news you can use: “Aunt Betty’s phallic corn dogs nearly got shut down at the Pride Festival in San Francisco Saturday, but the shape of the dog had nothing to do with it. It was a fire code thing. You can’t have a fabric umbrella directly over the corn dog fryer, no matter what shape the dog. ‘I should have known better,’ said Aunt Betty.” (San Francisco Chronicle) Aunt Betty, aka Betty Brett, is a Sonoma caterer who, when she works street fairs there, sells regular corn dogs, not anatomically accurate ones. “I don’t think my dogs would go over in Sonoma.” Probably not in Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City, either.