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Daily Archives: January 19, 2012

Some of today’s tweets to @romenesko followers:
* Virginian-Pilot publisher collected $250K bonus – on top of $600K salary – while laying off staff
* ABC News has tried since November to get Marianne Gingrich to go on camera
* Halifax Media CEO: “We don’t think newspapers are dead. The stigma placed on our industry is just awful”
* *Sacramento Bee might consolidate some editing/design functions with sister papers
* Charlotte Observer media writer protests Democratic National Convention Committee’s off-the-record tour

“We have a solid relationship with the New York Times,” Fox News PR chief Brian Lewis tells me. “I think that surprises people.”

It bothers some journalists, too.

On Tuesday, New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman tweeted about the two news organizations (“Fox using NYT to promote its journalism”), and quickly heard back from Times media writer Jeremy Peters. (See the tweets above.)

“Much as I like Gabe Sherman’s work, I disagree with him in this instance,” Times media editor Bruce Headlam told me Tuesday night. “Covering a person or organization doesn’t mean you are carrying water for them. If it did, our homepage right now would be doing PR for Mitt Romney, the recall vote in Wisconsin, the Italian cruise ship captain, Paula Deen and ‘Cougar Town.'”

(Sherman, who is working on a book about Fox News, declined to say more about the matter.)

How did Jeremy Peters get the access?

“This was the case of a reporter being persistent,” says Lewis, whose official title is Fox News corporate communications executive vice president. “He wanted to do Iowa, but we turned him down. He kept at it and at it — everything he’s written has been fair — so we said go ahead, and he got a great story out of it.”

One journalist wonders if Fox News’ embrace of the New York Times is part of the network’s “course correction” that Roger Ailes discussed with Howard Kurtz last fall. Lewis says it’s as simple as this: “We work with journalists who treat us as a news organization. We have no interest in those journalists who don’t.”

He adds: “We have tremendous relations with about 95% of the reporters out there.”

Stay away from the C word
Any journalist who describes Fox News as a “conservative” outfit — or spins a story in a way that’s unacceptable to the network’s PR people — will likely get a call from the “famous” Irena Briganti, who joined Fox in 1996 as Media Relations Coordinator and has risen to Fox News and Fox Business Media Relations Senior Vice President. (Gawker once called her “the most vindictive flack in the media world.”)

Irena Briganti

The 37-year-old PR woman is known for her insulting, condescending emails to reporters — always ‘cc’d to bosses — and for staying out of the limelight. Briganti, who declined to participate in this piece, isn’t on Twitter, Facebook or Google+, and an ex-Fox Newser says that “you’ll never see a photograph of her.”

That’s not correct. When I started working on this post, there was one photo of Briganti on Google Images. A few weeks ago I noticed it was gone. A source claimed Fox News was able to get Google to remove it, which a search-engine rep denies. It didn’t matter, though; I was slipped another photo of her — the one you see on the right.

What reporters say about Briganti
“I think you should charge us all therapist rates to listen to our Irena stories,” one reporter emailed after I tweeted that I was looking for anecdotes about the PR woman.

Another reporter responded to the email address I posted on Twitter: “I will admit that even as I send this, a tiny, tiny part of me wonders if ‘jim@jimromenesko.com’ isn’t some overly obvious front email for her to scoop up a lifetime’s worth of ammunition to destroy all the reporters she always wanted to. I am not ashamed to say I fear her.”

My tweet brought in dozens of stories from Briganti critics and fans.

Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald tells me: “No question she can — and usually does — use tough language when discussing Fox News’ rivals and critics. But as a reporter, I considered her a huge asset. She responded promptly to questions and was almost always able to provide quick answers. A surprising number of publicists I deal with don’t really have good access to upper-level executives within their own companies. Most importantly, she has never lied to or misled me, not once, not ever. She represents the Fox News worldview, of course, and is anything but shy in offering it up.”

Former Page Six writer Paula Froelich emails:

Paula Froelich


I actually think she’s amazing – and one of the few pr types in that position who do the job with accurate efficiency… and yes, I know, I know, I used to work at News Corp and there will be some people who say that we got along because we were technically in the same company – but not true. There’s no love lost between the Post and Fox. She was (and is) tough as nails. She has a job to do and does it very well/efficiently – she is under no pretention that reporters are her friends, but always returns phone calls from anywhere on the planet, defends the people she is paid to defend, and knows every trick in the trade to try and kill a story.

But then this email came in: “You want info on Irena Briganti? You better be offering COMPLETE and TOTAL anonymity because that is one vengeful lady who is part of a web of top management who deliberately spreads fear throughout the network.”

A journalist who is currently in the doghouse with Fox recalls leaving a voicemail for Brit Hume, but getting the return call from Briganti.

“She said, ‘Did you really think Brit Hume would call you back? Really? YOU?'” The reporter adds: “It was beyond unprofessional; it was pure seventh grade bathroom.”/CONTINUES Read More

Michael Redding photo by Alex Hicks Jr./shj.com

Halifax Media CEO Michael Redding visited the Spartanburg Herald Journal on Wednesday and told the staff:

“We don’t think newspapers are dead. The stigma placed on our industry is just awful. Unfortunately, we (the media) are largely to blame for that.”

“We’re bringing resources to the table, as well as the idea that print is not dead. We’re going to focus on digital and print at the same time.”

* New ownership team greets Herald-Journal staff


This “Sunday Morning” fan — I’ve been TiVoing the CBS show for years — is pleased to read Matt Haber’s tribute to Charles Osgood & Co. He writes: “There’s something about ‘Sunday Morning”s slow, sane pace that acts as a palliative to the hyped-up tone of much else found on TV; the show’s handmade look (the on-screen graphics recall nothing so much as those seen on bowling alley scoring systems) is a welcome break from the data barrage of cable news.”
* A new generation of squares are hep to “Sunday Morning”

Detroit News auto writer Scott Burgess recently checked his phone messages and got an earful from an angry reader. Here’s an except from that call:

I’m looking at the Auto Show section of the newspaper. You do a pretty good job, ah — you know what? Of promoting foreign cars. What’s wrong with you idiots? This is Detroit, the Motor City. The Auto Show’s here in Detroit. You know what? You guys are just letting your freak flag fly, aren’t you? Why don’t you show all the foreign cars in a great light in the newspaper? …

You guys are assholes. You wonder why our economy is doing so bad. You know what the thing you should do, is promote American cars. I’m sure China’s doing a great job of promoting our cars in their country, aren’t they? And Europe too, you know. Sure, the German auto show probably does a great job of promoting all the American cars in their papers, don’t they. You guys are idiots. You know what, take your foreign cars, shove ‘em up your ass, you know what — ok — and start to help promote American cars in Detoit, you assholes. …

Listen to the call to auto writer Scott Burgess

“I get these messages two or three times a week,” Burgess tells me. “I chose this one to make the video [for his Facebook page] because it was less racially charged than some of the ones I get and this guy sounded more sober than some of the others.

Scott Burgess

“My guess has always been that a couple of guys are sitting around, having a beer and see something I wrote and it gets them worked up. My phone number runs right at the end of every story, and who doesn’t have a phone on them nowadays?

“Really, I don’t mind that much. People should be passionate about their city and the things they build. But tearing everyone else down has always rubbed me the wrong way. So I had a little fun with it.”

Burgess invites readers to friend him on Facebook and watch the video version of this call.

A publishing industry insider describes in an email to Pando Daily’s Sarah Lacy how Amazon.com has changed the landscape:

Long-term there’s no future in printed books. They’ll be like vinyl: pricey and for collectors only. 95% of people will read digitally. Everybody in publishing knows this but most are in denial about it because moving to becoming a digital company means laying off like 40% of our staffs. And the barriers to entry fall, too. We simply don’t want to think about it.

* Publisher: We’re in Amazon’s Sights and They’re Going to Kill Us