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.
As Amazon cut prices of organic avocados and “organic responsibly farmed salmon,” it enjoyed absolutely free marketing help from the media.
It’s a reminder that news can result directly from the personal values of decision-making journalists reporting it. Values such as where some may shop, even if it’s not where most of America shops.
Whole Foods remains a tiny portion of the grocery business. And while there is no reason to underestimate visionary tech entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, coverage of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, and now cuts in about 100 items, constitutes a marketing executive’s dream.
TechCrunch previously disclosed price cuts among other products. But on Monday a reporter also took a morning shopping excursion that found both regular and almond milk — and a wide assortment of cheeses — had prices lowered in addition to “cases of bottled water, frozen whole chickens, various pasta sauces and even boneless rib-eye steaks.”
The Chicago Tribune ran a Bloomberg story that detailed, “At the store on East 57th Street in Manhattan, organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49 a pound; organic avocados went to $1.99 each from $2.79; organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 each from $13.99, and the price of some bananas was slashed to 49 cents per pound from 79 cents.”
That store is not far from Trump Tower, or about a universe from Main Street America. But, of course, your average elite New York reporter probably has been to Whole Foods more frequently than some dour mall’s Wal-Mart.
Well, if you live downtown in Manhattan, you didn’t have to make the arduous (not) trek to Midtown. That was the case for a Money magazine grocery excursion:
“We visited the Whole Foods in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood (the closest to the Money offices) on Friday and again on Monday morning to determine what had changed. Upon walking into the store, the most noticeable change was a new pop-up display for Amazon Echo and Dot systems, which were selling for $99.99 and $44.99, respectively.”
(Meanwhile, they could have also picked up a nice three-bedroom condo in Tribeca for a mere $3 million to $7 million, according to real estate listings in The New York Times. It would thus pay to save on Amazon Echo if seeking permanent lodging in the hood.)
Reuters reported, “Boneless rib eye prices dropped to $13.99 per pound from $16.99 in downtown Los Angeles, a reduction of nearly 18 percent, while the price for “responsibly farmed” Atlantic salmon filets fell to $9.99 per pound from $13.99, down almost 29 percent.”
And it wasn’t just print folks who were curious. “NBC Nightly News” was typical of the very similar TV coverage.
Millennial-targeting Cheddar, the terrific new online business network, had its latest tale on the price cuts (focusing on promotional plans), as did Eater.com. The latter dispatched editors “in New York City, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Austin (home of WF’s corporate headquarters) to Whole Foods locations to check prices…”
Yes, yes, the price of Organic baby kale was down 13 percent and organic responsibly farmed tilapia was down 33 percent.
But, if Gallup is correct, that’s not as steep a decline as positive views of Republicans toward the media. If Whole Foods prices went south that fast, even I would cast aside my parsimonious ways and shop there.
Clock ticks for Google
“Google faces a Tuesday deadline to tell the European Union how it plans to comply with an order to stop discriminating against rival shopping search services under threat of new fines that would add to a record 2.4 billion-euro ($2.9 billion) penalty.” (Bloomberg)
Revenge of the banner ads?
“After eschewing banner ads for years, BuzzFeed is finally embracing them.” (Business Insider)
“BuzzFeed will introduce display ads that will be bought and sold using third-party ad technology on a global basis. The move is a bid to tap into its scale and monetize its owned-and-operated platforms more effectively.”
“Specifically, the media company will let advertisers run display ads on its properties through the Facebook Audience Network and the Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange that will appear on its homepage, story pages, and mobile apps.”
Houston v. Trump
Opening her show, Rachel Maddow discussed Houston and how “it’s hard to overestimate the magnitude of the news” on the city. Well, it wasn’t that hard, at least last evening for the 29 subsequent minutes (from 9:03 to 9:32 p.m.) as she strung together the latest very curious developments broken by The New York Times and Washington Post on the Trump-Russia relationship.
She returned to the Houston saga in her second half-hour. But she’d left at least one listener headed home from a kid’s soccer practice wondering about what Robert Mueller might learn in a grand jury room about these same curiosities.
For sure, Trump wanted to do business with Russia. But he seems to crave the same elsewhere. And he and aides craved whatever the Russians might just do to help him vanquish Hillary Clinton. A crime? Probably not. But can Mueller go beyond the press revelations to show Trump or those same aides actually colluding to do something illegal with the Russians, such as hacking into computers?
The remarkable competition between the Post and Times was underscored when Maddow colleague Chris Hayes earlier had a joint interview on Trump-Russia with the Post’s Rosalind Helderman and the Times’ Matt Apuzzo.
It was far from the first time one’s seen reporters from each paper laying out scoops to a cable TV host. Conversely, how often has either paper had to credit a major story to one of the three cable networks? Not often.
If only they had the same profit margins.
Seeking fuller disclosure from the University of Michigan
New Jersey’s NJ.com had a pretty pro forma story idea, namely assembling a list of Big Ten football players who come from New Jersey. The University of Michigan refused and is the only conference school not complying.
Jim Harbaugh, the University of Michigan’s bright and cantankerous coach, says they’ll comply before their first game Saturday. He makes it sound like a potential disclosure of nuclear trade secrets. It may help explain the university’s unwillingness to accede to a Freedom of Information Act request by NJ.com. It’s silly. (MLIVE)
The stellar John McEnroe
Shortly after midnight this morning, and in a relatively inconsequential men’s match, ESPN announcer Patrick McEnroe asked the color commentator, his brother John, whether the famous iconoclast had just actually agreed with a decision of the match referee on a disputed game point.
“I figured no one was watching,” given the hour, he said instantly. Perfect.
A potential real attraction at the Newseum: selling the building
“Jeffrey Herbst, president and chief executive of the Newseum, stepped down suddenly on Monday as the museum’s board announced a full-blown review of its long-troubled finances.” (The Washington Post)
“The review could result in the sale of the landmark building on Pennsylvania Avenue, according to a statement from the Freedom Forum, the creator and primary benefactor of the Newseum.”
The museum’s origin dates to days when the industry was pretty flush. The Freedom Forum, its creator and a nonprofit created by Gannett, used to spend lavishly in hosting big shebangs and having a pretty big staff (I remember one such fancy lunch there the day of the O.J. Simpson verdict, as all scurried to television sets).
The museum was a heady outgrowth of those dollars, with its Pennsylvania Avenue location a gem, with finances always a bit ambiguous, even as it started to charge healthy entrance fees and, of late, had to cut staff. (Poynter)
But if it puts the building on the block, it would be par for an industry course, with many desperate papers trying to squeeze a few bucks out of real estate. It’s why the Chicago Tribune will exit its iconic building and why a unit of Amazon can be found in the old offices of the Oregonian in Portland.
“Addicks dam 1/2 foot away from spilling over” was an opening chyron on Fox’s “Trump & Friends” as their hero visits the Houston area today. “Controlled release” was an operative phrase of the morning.
CNN’s “New Day” meteorologist figures another three or four inches of rain there today as it detailed tales of rescues. Jonathan Tilove, chief political writer for the Austin American-Statesman, figures today will be a good day for Trump he arrives and looks “presidential.”
Over at “Morning Joe,” it was Trump and Russia. Trump and Russia. Trump and Russia. A tower. Branding. The theme of a presidential candidate still focused on business, assuming he wouldn’t win the race. The same Washington Post and New York Times stories were the heart of the creative inspiration, though there was mention of NBC’s own tale of Mueller investigators being “keenly focused” on the Trump involvement in writing that response about Donald Jr’s meeting with Russians.
Most expensive city to have a smoke?
Stat News says it will be New York City, given new taxes, at $13 a pack. That’s a hike from $10.50 as a result of legislation Mayor Bill de Blasio signed. (New York Daily News)