September 1, 2016

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We have far more information than ever. But we often seem far less informed.

It’s a bewildering matter but one element, says a report from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, is the ongoing mobile revolution. It “threatens to create a less engaged ‘second-class’ citizenship of news consumers who don’t benefit from mobile adoption as much as everyone assumes.” (Nieman Lab)

Johanna Dunaway, who did the heavy lifting and was a recent Shorenstein fellow, “blames smartphones themselves. Thanks to a combination of smaller screens, slower connection speeds and the variable costs of data, mobile devices are, in many senses, imperfect vectors for news consumption.”

The conclusion? “We found that, relative to computer users, mobile users spent less time reading news content and were less likely to notice and follow links and to do so for longer periods of time,” Dunaway said. (Shorenstein Center)

A series of graphs takes you through some findings. The mobile news app audience is minuscule compared to the desktop or mobile-browser audience. There’s also a tension between reach and engagement. “The large majority of the top-50 news sites had higher time rates per visit for desktop than for mobile, whereas the large majority of the top 50 sites had more visitors through mobile than through desktop.”

And, in the middle of an election not lacking in media attention, there’s the cautionary note that “mobile has been shown to curb news seeking, attention and engagement, adding to the concern that today’s fragmented media environment is eroding the public’s level of information and engagement.”

A rare look at the “Star Wars museum”

George Lucas has amassed 10,000 paintings and works on paper and 30,000 film-related objects and is looking for a home for a Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. He initially failed in getting the site he wanted in San Francisco, then failed in Chicago, and is back to negotiating in San Francisco, not far from where he lives.

“It seems nearly everyone has an opinion about the collection of the Lucas Museum,” writes Charles Desmarais in the San Francisco Chronicle. “’It’s a ‘Star Wars’ museum,’ some have said. ‘It’s a Hollywood memorabilia museum.’ On Twitter, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight called it ‘George Lucas’ planned Treacle Museum.'”

Desmarais got “the first opportunity to evaluate the collection,” and is “glad to say it is none of those things. In fact, it may just be the core of a great museum.” (The San Francisco Chronicle)

The EpiPen saga continues

There’s the uproar over the cost of Mylan’s EpiPen, right? Then there’s the news that a company under siege says it will offer a generic and dramatically lower-price version of the same device. (The New York Times)

Ed Silverman, who moved a very good pharmaceutical industry blog (“Pharmalot”) to the new STAT site on the health sciences, brings attention to an academic study that underscores how Mylan filed a petition last year “in an attempt to persuade the U.S. Food and Drug Administration not to approve a rival to its EpiPen device for life-threatening allergic reactions, which was being developed by Teva Pharmaceuticals.” But now, when it suits its public relations purposes, it changes course. (STAT)

The ambitions of Jorge Lemann

Most business reporters probably don’t know the name Jorge Lemann. They should. He’s a 77-year-old Brazilian billionaire behind the takeovers of Kraft, Heinz, Burger King and Anheuser-Busch. He’s merged Heinz and Kraft, and his 3G Capital investment firm has so cut costs and executive ranks at all those spots that ultimate success (if it comes) could prove that American business has been traditionally mismanaged and bloated.

Journalists and CEOs in many industries should follow Lemann’s crew closely. Now there’s word that he might be on the precipice of some $100 billion deal, with potential targets including Campbell Soup Co., General Mills and Kellogg Co. (Business Insider)

MTV’s Video Music Awards

Jason Hirschhorn’s MediaREDEF newsletter is chagrined with press coverage of the VMAs the other night. “I noticed all the take-downs. Yes, the ratings were down on television. But social media and video streams were pretty huge. And given the brand is as susceptible to the changing media habits of youth than just about any, I applaud the transition. Go where the audience is. Looking at the TV numbers just isn’t enough to paint the full picture.” (MediaREDEF)

Trump’s day

Initial cable news response to Trump’s foray into Mexico was true to form, with one notable exception on MSNBC. That came from reflexive conservative contrarian Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard. He hates Trump. But he broached the potential potency of images, in particular the image of Trump standing there with Mexico’s president. Yes, it was ironic and awkward but “at the end of the day it was not embarrassing.”

This morning there was effusive praise on “Fox & Friends,” especially with Trump’s constant reiteration last night about building a wall. Mexico won’t pay? Co-host Tucker Carlson said, “Who cares, actually, if you’ve reached the point that you’re debating who pay for the wall, the proponents for the wall have won the argument since the presupposition is you’re getting the wall since there’s no real argument against it.” Got that?

“Morning Joe,” which has gone from being in the Trump tank to being his post-sunrise bete noire, was, ah, nonplussed, nearly into a state of quiescence. But that lull was snapped when Mika Brzezinski prompted her chum co-host, Joe Scarborough, to discuss “Amnesty Don,” the country-western musical sendup of Trump posted to his Facebook page Wednesday. (Facebook)

On CNN Latin American political analyst Ana Maria Salazar, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense, was the most interesting pundit, notably in deconstructing why the Mexican president even saw Trump and acted as he did. “The big loser appears to be the Mexican government, particularly the president.”

A fuzzy Obama motorcade in Nevada

After President Obama and entourage exited the Lake Tahoe airport, reporter Andrew Beatty of Agence France-Press filed a pool report that indicated, “The motorcade weaved its way along fur-lined roads toward Harvey’s, along the way we passed an elementary school with kids lined up behind a long chain fence, noses and fingers poking through. There were also a handful of anti-TPP protesters and ski gondolas scooting up and down the mountain.” (Public Pool)

Imagine those mink-or-sable-filled roads! He subsequently filed a correction: “In pool report 5 please read ‘fir-lined’ not ‘fur-lined’. Apologies if your pooler gave the impression of a giant pashmina streaming from the landing zone to the amphitheater.” (Public Pool)

Imagine a secret, global court

“Imagine a private, global super court that empowers corporations to bend countries to their will” is the opening of a BuzzFeed series on investor-state dispute settlement (SDS), a process “written into a vast network of treaties that govern international trade and investment, including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Congress must soon decide whether to ratify.”

Debate over trade treaties is nothing new, especially the so-called TPP of late, “but an 18-month BuzzFeed News investigation, spanning three continents and involving more than 200 interviews and tens of thousands of documents, many of them previously confidential, has exposed an obscure but immensely consequential feature of these trade treaties, the secret operations of these tribunals, and the ways that business has co-opted them to bring sovereign nations to heel.” (BuzzFeed)

The attack on New York magazine

The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove was justifiably taken aback, even as an old pro, with a full-frontal assault from Roger Ailes’ lawyers on the past and (they assume) upcoming work of reporter Gabriel Sherman on Ailes’ sexual harassment debacle. Grove explained that chronology to me. (Poynter)

Sherman’s done a fine job and, now, in an Age of (Hulk) Hogan, where so many hate the press, there’s always some danger if you wind up a defendant at an actual trial. It seems that no matter the soundness of your position, and the precision of your work, there’s the inherent peril of a wayward judge and jury that is, like many, ignorant about the role of a free press.

But if Alies is hankering for a suit, his camp is also playing with fire, given the pre-trial disclosures that could be more than embarrassing to the former Fox chief.

A vow of press abstinence

Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage is a conservative piece of work who was caught in an obscenity-filled tirade (with a suggestion he’d shoot the guy) on a voice mail left with a Democratic politician. Some say he should step down. In an updated version of then-President Richard Nixon’s Watergate-related “I am not a crook” declaration, LePage announced, “I’m not an alcoholic and I’m not a drug addict and I don’t have mental issues.” Then he “vowed that he would never again speak to the media, whom he accused of stoking controversies.’I will no longer speak to the press ever again after today.” (The Boston Globe)

Yikes. This could leave the press scrambling, but Maine won’t be bereft of news. Today’s Bangor Daily News (a good paper) discloses, “A Rockland man made his initial court appearance Wednesday after being accused of attempting to strangle another lobsterman over cut fishing gear.” (Bangor Daily News)

Good news

“ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, who was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer earlier this year, said Wednesday that he doesn’t have a specific date he’ll return to work, but he plans to be part of the network’s NFL coverage as the season gets underway.” (ESPN) He said the cancer diagnosed in January “has been virtually reduced to zero detection of the disease through the latest scans and exams.”

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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.…
James Warren

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