The media tried to puncture our weekend-long Super Bowl preparations with extensive coverage of the New Hampshire primary. If you were a junkie, it was a cable feast that still left one largely clueless about what may play out Tuesday (will Trump really win big?) amid an extravaganza of polling. (RealClearPolitics)
Imagine, too, if you took the journalism resources expended in New Hampshire and combined them with the army living on expense accounts in Santa Clara, California for the football game. A serious editor’s biggest decision might be which Pulitzer categories he wanted to win next year with those bodies available for actual enterprise. Meanwhile, there seemed to be live coverage at every New Hampshire town hall meeting, living room, school gym, tavern, etc. C-SPAN no longer has a monopoly on the nitty gritty.
While most of America was not watching TV Saturday evening, Marco Rubio was assessed the loser at ABC’s generally well-run debate (The Washington Post) even amid signs of a subsequent attempt at an Obama-bashing rebound. (WMUR) The pack deemed winners to be Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie (his attack on Rubio was “brutal and bruising”) and Donald Trump.
The media’s sub-plots include Bush, once a smart choice, possibly “entering the final days of his last stand.” (The Boston Globe) Oh, amid the media penchant for the unequivocal and provocative, CNBC’s John Harwood was thankfully modest and probably accurate: “The good news is we don’t know what’s going to happen.” (@JohnJHarwood)
- Murdoch weighs in
Maybe he was watching the GOP debate Saturday night with fiance Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger’s ex. “Cruz a great debater performed well, but why do all long-term acquaintances distrust him?” he tweeted. “Jeb Bush best yet. Easily visualise him in WH.” (@rupertmurdoch)
- A suspect playbook for Playbook
Mike Allen’s “Playbook” is a fixture of POLITICO. But he’s been chided amid disclosure of an email exchange with a spokesman for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He looked to be groveling to get a Chelsea Clinton interview and was willing to let the State Department approve the questions to be asked at a POLITICO money-making brunch. (Gawker) Now new emails suggest that he was very flexible in running an item State pitched on what it deemed a very complimentary National Geographic look at the department and the boss. This included a proposed item being sent to Allen, Allen condensing it and passing it back, the spokesman suggesting a change and Allen running it to State’s seeming satisfaction. (Gawker)
- The challenge for new Tribune shareholder
Chicago tech entrepreneur Michael Ferro, who is primary owner of The Sun-Times, just bought nearly 17 percent of Tribune Publishing, which owns his hometown Chicago Tribune. (Crain’s)
Here’s perhaps the key challenge: getting people to pay for digital content. Tribune Publishing’s newspapers, which include the Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant and seven other major dailies, have a grand total of 88,000 digital-only subscribers. (BusinessWire) The New York Times just added 53,000 digital-only subscribers in the most recent quarter. It’s now got nearly 1.1 million paid digital-only subscribers. (The New York Times) Yes, The New York Times is a national paper. But The Boston Globe alone boasts 65,000 digital-only subs, and The Minneapolis Star Tribune has 45,000. (Editor and Publisher) Thus, the Tribune company-wide total of 88,000 is “sub-par,” media analyst Ken Doctor told me Sunday.
Meanwhile, POLITICO’s Illinois Playbook last week detailed a digital strategy at the Ferro-owned Sun-Times that has been beset by numerous problems, including a stalled newspaper app and an “often un-navigable” national site. (POLITICO)
- Jill Abramson hits the trail
The former New York Times executive editor, who had a rough exit from the most famous daily, is exhibiting her old reporting chops in New Hampshire. She sympathetically trailed Hillary Clinton and unavoidably noted the differences in the media culture since her first reporting trek there in 1976 with all the bigshots of journalism, like “gonzo” Hunter S. Thompson, who hung at the Sheraton Wayfarer in Manchester. “The Wayfarer hotel was torn down in March. These days, an anodyne bar and restaurant at the Radisson seems to be the press hangout in Manchester. The reporters are busy tweeting and doing TV interviews, rather than drinking and smoking, and plenty of them are female, from digital outfits that didn’t even exist back when ‘Hillary cried.’ That was a long time ago now.” (The Guardian)
- Staying in the game
So you get bounced from a media job. That’s enough of a shock. But what about a second or third time? Here’s some tips for tough times. (Mediabistro)
- Twitter users atwitter
Twitter “went into an uproar Friday.” (The Verge) You missed that? Huh? Having a life or something? Blame it on a report that it was going to introduce a more Facebook-like algorithm-driven feed. (BuzzFeed) Twitter’s CEO “tried to calm fears in a series of tweets, but he did not deny the substance of the report.” Meanwhile, it’s poised to disclose quarterly earnings and two new board members, with one rumored to be TV mega-producer Shonda Rhimes. (Re/code)
- The New York Times succumbing to clickbait?!
No, no, no, it says. An interesting window onto changing mores, though, is offered by Public Editor Margaret Sullivan in a mini-profile of its Express Team. The leader of the team “rejects the idea that his team produces clickbait. ‘Clickbait is not a useful term here,’ he said. ‘People use it when they think something is pandering or not truly newsworthy, in the same way people used to use the term ‘tabloid,’ or say of TV news, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.'” No, his group is simply trying to be “responsive to a constantly changing, and global, online conversation.” (The New York Times)
- Doritos and The New Yorker
The New Yorker, the best of the best most of the time, felt compelled to opine last night on the Super Bowl commercials. As did everybody. (Portland Oregonian, CNBC, Adweek, etc.) It’s the compulsion to be timely even among the more famously contemplative among us. (The New Yorker) “When the funniest image of the night is three dogs hiding under a trench coat to buy Doritos, that’s not great.” Yup.
- Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
Michael Kinsley will be a contributor to The Washington Post. He is a contributor to Vanity Fair. Barton Swaim will be a contributor to The Washington Post. He is an author. (Email) | Job of the day: Digiday is looking for a junior reporter. Get your resumes in! (Digiday) | Send Ben your job moves: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the public editor of The New York Times. She is Margaret Sullivan, not Margaret Sheridan.