Daily Archives: February 24, 2012

“I regret to stoop to the point of responding to you,” Patch president Warren Webster told a rival this week, “but I will here.”

This little spat took place in the Business Insider comments section, below Nicholas Carlson’s piece, “FRICTION AT AOL: Arianna Is A Huge ‘Headache’… But Also The Most Valuable Person At AOL.”

Main Street Connect founder Carll Tucker wrote that his online national community news outfit “has a similar model but is turning a profit.” He added: “Perhaps Aol should have invested in profitable models like ours rather than dumping money into Patch.”

Patch’s boss didn’t like that.

@Carll Tucker: Carll I regret to stoop to the point of responding to you, but I will here.

A couple of points:

1) Patch is about building out a footprint that will scale and monetize over time. The last several years have been about infrastructure development and growing engagement. No one asked if Facebook was profitable for its first 5 years. It is unfair to put that expectation on Patch.

2) Your company is a small local startup which I admire. Patch is a national organization that is revolutionizing the news media. We have national advertising. We have project Devil. You do not. We are fishing from different advertiser ponds.

3) As a local company you need to make money for your investors. At Patch we are part of a company which will soon be in the Fortune 500. There are literally 100’s of metrics by which we can measure success. Money is just one of them. We funnel 100’s of users every month to the Huffington Post and other Aol properties. We have a terrific editorial staff breaking big national stories. Again different games.

Congratulations on making money. I truly wish you the best. Please stop comparing your organization to ours. There is room in this space for the both of us.



Tucker hasn’t fired back – yet.

From MARK MAYFIELD, University of Alabama, Office of Student Media:
I saw the fascinating link you had on the 1981 San Francisco TV report on the coming age of electronic newspapers. It reminded me that when I was editor of the University of Alabama student newspaper in 1977, we published a story about this subject. We based it on an interview with a UA journalism professor, Kenneth Edwards, who had been studying the coming technology. (Edwards later wrote a sort of landmark article about this for The Futurist magazine in 1978). Will be happy to send you the full text of the story if you decide to do any follow-ups on this subject. [I told him to send it along for posting.] It’s interesting to go back and track this.

By the way, I’m the editorial adviser to student media here at the university. I just returned to campus after 30 years out there in the biz, where I served as editor-in-chief of House Beautiful magazine, among others.

From The Crimson White
University of Alabama student newspaper
Nov. 17, 1977

Teletext puts newspapers in homes via television
By DAVID SIMPSON CW Academics Editor

The weary commuter drags into the living room after another working day. He, and millions like him, usually want two things: a cold drink and a summary of the day’s events.

Drink in hand, he picks up a small device resembling a pocket calculator. He presses a few buttons and watches the television before him come to life. A multi-color display appears on the screen. The viewer is offered a list of general topics- local news, sports, entertainment.

The avid sports fan punches out the number listed beside “sports” on his control panel and watches a list of sports headlines flash on the screen. Again he chooses, and is soon reading a preview of the Monday night football game. Such a scene is not merely a fascinating idea. The “electronic newspaper” already available to “teletext” subscribers in Great Britain. Read More

Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen says in a memo explaining why the paper is selling two real estate blocks: “We learned from the financial collapse that sitting on extremely valuable property does not help meet short-term financial obligations, as the ability to sell the property on short notice or at full market value is nil.” The rest of his memo:

TO: All Employees
FROM: Frank Blethen
DATE: February 21, 2012
SUBJECT: Possible Sale of Seattle Times South lake Union Real Estate

Later this week, The Times will be testing the marketplace for a possible sale of one or both of our remaining South Lake Union real estate blocks.

While we would prefer to hold these assets for the long-term, we’re contemplating this action for two reasons:

To determine if we want to take advantage of the unique South Lake Union real estate market – a marketplace in high demand, and one of the few places in the country that the limited remaining real estate has rebounded in value equal to, or exceeding, the November 2008 financial system collapse.

We are also weighing the merits of converting these valuable land assets into a more liquid form, given our experience with the lack of liquidity as the Great Recession took hold. Read More

The Los Angeles Times is asking its online readers to pay an initial rate of 99 cents for four weeks, starting March 5. Readers who don’t subscribe get 15 stories in a 30-day period for free.
* Los Angeles Times launches new membership program

Madison (Wis.) Police Department public information officer and former TV reporter Joel DeSpain knew his Denny’s story was a winner when the national media — including NPR and the Huffington Post — started calling him about it.

The man who posed as a Denny's manager and cooked his own meal

“That was the first time I’d seen that happen,” he says of the national media’s inquiries.

DeSpain’s post about the well-dressed 52-year-old man who walked into Denny’s, claimed he was the new general manager, then started cooking his own meal became an instant online hit.

“It’s just one of those water-cooler talkers,” he says.

The former WISC-TV reporter joined the Madison Police Department in 2007, after deciding to spend more time with his family. (“Now I’m out of here at 4 o’clock, and off coaching for my kids’ teams.”) He handles the police PR job much like a cops reporter at a newspaper or TV station: “I monitor the police radio, I go through the 911 call log on a daily basis, and I also go through the daily arrest log. I also count on people from the districts to send me what they believe to be important or interesting cases.”

Initially, he was very serious about what incident reports he posted on the department’s website: only murders, burglaries and the like made the cut.

Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop

“Then a few years ago I posted one or two lighter items as kind of therapy to get away from the ugly stuff, and people liked them. Now the odd crime news items get more hits than the homicides or armed robberies.”

DeSpain’s work has become more important to Madison media in recent years.

“It used to be that reporters would come down here and go through the logs,” he says. “But now, with all of the downsizing of the newsrooms, there’s nobody here.” Reporters now rely on DeSpain’s postings for their police news.

The information officer says his Denny’s story has 10,000 hits “and is still rising” on the department’s website. It has a long ways to go, though, to top the all-time “weird news” favorite: the arrest of Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop. DeSpain says that incident report got 75,000 hits — and, of course, national coverage.

* Read DeSpain’s incident report about the Denny’s arrest

* “I’m trying to find things that a reporter would find interesting”

Krystal Myers/Knoxville News Sentinel

Lenoir City High School won’t let school newspaper editor, honors student and atheist Krystal Myers, 18, run her editorial in the student paper. The Tennessee school says Myers’ piece, “No Rights: The Life of an Atheist,” has the potential for disruption in the school.

Here are a few passages:

On at least two separate occasions, teachers have made their religious preferences known to basically the whole school. One teacher has made her religious preferences known by wearing t-shirt depicting the crucifix while performing her duties as a public employee. …One teacher has Bible verses occasionally as the teacher’s “Quote of the Day” for students.

Public prayer also occurs at all of the home football games using the public address system. This has, again, been covered by the Supreme Court case Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. The Court ruled that school-sponsored prayer is an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

* High school won’t publish atheist student’s editorial

* Read Krystal Myers’ “No Rights: The Life of an Atheist”

Craig Dubow resigned as Gannett CEO for health reasons in October and was eligible for a retirement and disability pay package of $37.1 million. (Peter Lewis has pointed out that when Dubow took over as CEO in 2005, Gannett’s stock price was $72-something a share. At his departure, it was $10-something – down 85% in his tenure.)

On Wednesday, Gannett revealed in a 10-K filing that Dubow will receive a $5.9 million cash payment in early April, apparently the first part of his retirement package. Gannett Blog’s Jim Hopkins went through 155-page document and noticed that Dubow and Gannett agreed to keep the executive’s separation agreement “more or less a secret — although GCI reserved the right to disclose its contents to the SEC. Which, of course, it did.”

Part of the agreement:

5. You and Gannett agree not to disclose or discuss the existence or the details of this Agreement with anyone other than our respective attorneys, accountants and/or your immediate family members, unless required by law. You hereby acknowledge and agree that Gannett may disclose this Agreement and/or the terms hereof in any investor communication or filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (or other communication related thereto).

6. You also agree that you will not make any statements, oral or written, or cause or allow to be published in your name, or under any other name, any statements, interviews, articles, books, web logs, editorials or commentary (oral or written) that is critical or disparaging of Gannett, or any of its operations, or any officers, employees or directors of Gannett, or of any of its operations.

Likewise, Gannett, agrees that it will not make, and will instruct its current directors and executive officers not to make, any statements, oral or written, or cause to be published in Gannett’s name, any statements, interviews, articles, editorials or commentary (oral or written) that is critical or disparaging of you. Merely because a statement is made by a Gannett employee does not mean that it is made “in Gannett’s name.”

* The Separation Agreement begins at page 91
* Gannett to pay Dubow $5.9 million in April

* Earlier: No comment from the Times on columnist’s Mormon tweet

Gov. Corbett

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I look to newspapers to be objective,” said Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s Republican governor. Ed Rendell, who is wants to buy the Inquirer and Daily News, “will always be a politican.”
* Bad idea for Rendell to seek newspaper role || Another view from Jack Shafer

* “I’ve spent most of my life interested in hurricanes,” says Dan Rather

* Kinsey Wilson promoted to NPR chief content officer; Margaret Low Smith named senior vice president for news

* Erik Wemple talks to news execs about covering Syria. CBS News: “Too risky to be in there unilaterally”

* In a tweet, NYT’s Charles Blow tells Romney: “Stick that in your magic underwear”

* Yemma: “Smart people loved the [Christian Science] Monitor, but few people saw it”

* Lucy Lawless tells Adweek: “I never Twitter – I’ve tried, but I can’t figure out how to leave a message”

* Shafer: Philly should count itself half-lucky that its magnates & sharp-shivved pols want to save its papers

* About 40 staffers in Reader’s Digest’s Weekly Reader group get pink slips