Archive

Daily Archives: October 10, 2012


JUST IN: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger’s will shows his heirs want to sell his NYT Co. shares. (dnainfo.com)

———

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger’s memo to staff:

Dear Colleagues,

Sulzberger

Today, the Company and the Guild have agreed to mediation in order to maximize the potential of reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.

We remain committed to reaching a fair contract settlement with the Guild. It is our hope that this settlement comes soon so that we can all return our complete focus to producing the highest quality journalism that readers of The New York Times have come to expect from us.

Sincerely,

Arthur

* Guild proposes mediator, management accepts (nyguild.org)

Here’s note that Timesman Walt Baranger to the news staff before the two sides agreed to mediation:

Folk,

Be in no doubt: Arthur has authored this strategy, he holds the Guild in low esteem and he has not forgotten the dreadful but mercifully short 1978 strike.

Of course being a hard-nosed businessman is not a criminal act, nor does it preclude Arthur from seeking an amicable solution should the opportunity present itself. But don’t think for one minute to he will abrogate his responsibility — as he sees it — to the family or shareholders. He allegiance lies there, as it should.

We are not in impasse at this moment, and we still have a valid contract in force. Perhaps our Monday action precipitated the break in negotiations a few weeks earlier than might otherwise have been the case, but it hasn’t made Arthur any more or less determined.

As long as we take carefully measured steps that do not put us in breech of contract, the onus will be be on the company to declare a legal impasse. Until then, we work as if nothing has happened. If we coincidentally take lunch breaks together, so much the better. And of course what we do on our own time is our own business.

With a dual contract proposal on the table, our goal should be to not allow the company the drive a wedge between the print contract and digital contract members. This means making sure that digital and print contract members talk to each other, compare goals and resolve to not approve one contract without approving the other, if a vote comes.

We should also not give the company any ammunition that it can use in court to defend an impasse declaration. Bill O’Meara and Guild team have worked very hard to keep their relations with management civilized and within the bounds of good labor relations. The bellicose attitude of certain management negotiators has been puzzling, until now.

It’s premature to talk about actions to take if the company declares an impasse and posts working conditions, but surely the company knows that events can spiral out of control and that both parties can easily forget where their best interests lie. Let us hope that it doesn’t come to that.

— walt baranger

* Earlier: New York Times to make its final offer to the guild on Thursday
* In Philly: Drivers to hold strike authorization vote on Sunday (metro.us)

University Daily Kansan sports reporter Blake Schuster says he was warned Tuesday by University of Kansas football communications director Katy Lonergan about asking questions at the weekly football press conference.

The reason: Coach Charlie Weis and his team are still miffed about last week’s newspaper cover art and story.

The Kansan notes:

Schuster did not ask questions during the conference.

Lonergan said she did not tell Schuster to refrain from asking questions.

“I just simply advised him that if he did ask questions, he should be prepared for any kind of tone in his answer,” she said.

The Big Lead points out that “Weis pulled a similar stunt with two South Bend Tribune reporters at Notre Dame in 2006.”

I wasn’t able to reach Lonergan by phone this afternoon, but she did talk to Sports Radio 810 host Kevin Kietzman off the air and told him: “Coach Weis has been very patient with [the student reporter]. Other KU coaches I know would have obliterated him and humiliated him for asking dumb questions.”

Lonergan and Schuster

Kietzman says he talked to Lonergan for 17 minutes. “She made one great decision” he adds. “She made a great decision in not coming on the air. She made a poor decision in saying I’ll talk to you on the record, because she couldn’t stop talking. And the farther she got into this thing, the weirder the conversation got as to why” the student reporter was warned about asking questions at the press conference. (Listen to Kietzman’s report here.)

Kietzman continues:

To me there really aren’t bad questions. …If you’re asking what the coach perceives to be dumb questions, and this is what’s happening with pulling this kid aside — I call him a kid; he’s a young man — I’ve got a problem with this, and I don’t for the life of me understand why Charlie Weis doesn’t have bigger fish to fry than this. Why is he bothered with the student paper?…

I think Charlie Weis and his staff are bullying a student, and I think that’s just as wrong and low as it gets.

Kansan editor-in-chief Ian Cummings tells me: “We will probably look at rotating Schuster off of that beat if this continues to be a story. For today, we’re looking to see if this has run its course.” || A later email: “We will not take him off of football. His work has been totally satisfactory, and I expect he’ll remain right where he is.”

* Kansan reporter told not to ask questions at press conference (kansan.com)
* Sports Radio 810 Kevin Kietzman’s commentary on Weis and the student paper
* Earlier: Weis tweets angrily about Kansan cover story and art (collegemediamatters.com)

Henry Blodget says The Drudge Report is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and that Matt Drudge’s influence and wealth make him “one of the most successful digital media entrepreneurs in the world — the Rupert Murdoch or William Randolph Hearst of the digital age.”

Matt Drudge


The Drudge Report likely gets relatively low revenue-per-page. (Say, $1.50 per 1000 pages). But The Drudge Report has a lot of pageviews. Assuming The Drudge Report gets $1.50 per 1000 pages and has 1 billion pageviews per month, The Drudge Report should be generating revenue of $15-$20 million a year. …

Assuming The Drudge Report pays the full corporate tax rate on those earnings, the business probably generates $10-$15 million of after-tax profit per year.

Blodget notes that media properties generally trade at a 15x-25x multiple of earnings, which puts The Drudge Report’s value at between $150 million to $375 million.

In 2007, Portfolio magazine said Drudge’s site could be worth anywhere from $5.3 million to $86.4 million.

* Drudge Report is worth $100s of millions (businessinsider.com)
* From 2007: Putting a price on The Drudge Report (nytimes.com) | (bizjournals.com)
* Must-read 1998 profile: Matt Drudge’s early years (washingtoncitypaper.com)

Letter to Romenesko

From RALPH ADAM FINE: The AP editor’s (excuse) (explanation) for the Romney at school caption reminded me of what Michael Crichton called Gell-Mann Amnesia — see below.

That said, other than as a voter, I have no pony in any election — partisan or non-partisan. I do, however, bemoan that many in the media are, as are many lawyers and judges [Fine’s profession], sloppy and unwilling or unable to take the care that excellence and accuracy requires.

For many years before he died, [former Milwaukee Sentinel reporter] Eldon Knoche had me talk to his UWM journalism class. It was an evening session and many of the students were well into adulthood. I always started with this question: “How many here have been involved with something that made it into the print or broadcast news?” Every year about half raised their hands. Then I asked: “Please keep your hands up if the reportage was accurate.” Every year every hand went down. I tried to use that example so that they, if they ever got a journalism job, would remember the special obligation to -care-!

Anyway, here is Gell-Mann Amnesia as described by Crichton:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

* Oct. 15, 2002: “Eldon Knoche died again Monday. This time it was for keeps.”

While 96% of American high schools provide some opportunity to participate in student media, only 33% of the 1,000 schools surveyed have an online component to their student publications, according to researchers.

“Not enough schools are providing students opportunities to learn about responsibly producing online media,” says Peter Bobkowski, co-author of the study.

The lack of online media may be due to lack of teachers with knowledge of the subject, a lack of resources, school administrators reluctant to give students the opportunity to use a medium that can be more controversial and reach a wider audience.

Among schools with some form of student media…

* 94% report having a yearbook
* 64% percent have newspapers
* 29% have TV programs
* 3% have radio

Researchers also found: 86% of high school papers are published as a part of a class, and not just as an extracurricular activity; and the average school without student media has a 56% minority population vs. 35% of schools with media.

* High school media lacking in diversity, online presence (ku.edu)

CLARIFICATION: This post originally identified University of Kansas journalism professor Peter Bobkowski as author of this study. That is not correct. “This research was a project of the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University,” writes Mark Goodman of Kent State in email. “Principal investigators for the survey were Mark Goodman, Professor and Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism, and Candace Perkins Bowen, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Scholastic Journalism, both from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University; and Piotr Bobkowski, Assistant Professor in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas.”

On Tuesday, the Associated Press added more information to its caption on the photo of Mitt Romney and schoolchildren.

On Wednesday morning, AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll put out this statement:

The original caption on the photo of Gov. Romney taken Monday at a Virginia school was literally correct — it said the governor was posing for photos with schoolchildren. But it was too generic and missed the boat by not explaining exactly what was happening. The student with the surprised expression had just realized that the governor was going to crouch down in front of her for the group photo.

We amended the caption on Tuesday with that explanation, but by then many people had seen the photo and were confused by or angry about it. Those generic captions help us process a large number of photos on a busy campaign day, but some photos demand more explanation and we fell short of our own standards by not providing it in this case.

* “It honestly looks like a little girl is gaping at Romney from behind” (updatednews.ca)


* Bain Capital wants a piece of Gawker (gawker.com)
* Earlier: Gawker posts hundreds of pages of confidential Bain files (gawker.com)