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Daily Archives: November 15, 2012

* Reporters aren’t allowed in a school meeting, so they tweet what they hear from the next room. (postandcourier.com) || A press association attorney says the closed meeting was illegal. (newsbank.com)
* Variety lays off 12% of its staff and plans to cut its printing schedule. (latimes.com)
* New York Daily News loses three staffers, including veteran reporter and editor Tracy Connor. (capitalnewyork.com)
* Ex-Dick Clark Productions CEO Mark Shapiro is being considered for the top job at CNN. (latimes.com)
* NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan will be holding “office hours” on Twitter next week. (nytimes.com)
* Warning: “Poop bandit” column “may contain content that germaphobes would be better off not reading.” (collegemediamatters.com)
* Village Voice’s new editor-in-chief, Will Bourne, is called “very cool” by Michael Musto. (capitalnewyork.com)
* New York Times ad staffers throw a party at Guy Fieri’s restaurant — right after the paper skewers it. (thebraiser.com)
* Eight social media changes since the 2008 election. (cnet.com)
* “Poynter’s tenure [as ESPN ombudsman] was largely a disappointment.” (awfulannouncing.com)
* BBC settles with politician wrongly implicated in a child sex abuse scandal. (AP via yahoo.com)
* News & Messenger “didn’t deserve to be shut down after 143 years of public service.” (washingtonpost.com)
* NPR listeners are told that Mark Thompson “left the BBC in a very, very strong position.” (npr.org)

When Mediabistro was sold in 2007, I told some people that I thought Elizabeth Spiers deserved at least a few of the millions that Laurel Touby took to the bank.

Touby (left) and Spiers

Yes, Touby founded the site and was its boa-wearing party-circuit star, but it was Spiers who launched the site’s gossipy Fishbowls and got Mediabistro noticed with beefed-up content. (Spiers — Gawker’s founding editor — was Mediabistro’s editor from October 2004 to October 2005. In a January 2005 interview, she discussed “an important new phase” for Mediabistro, one that emphasized media news and gossip — and made it a more valuable property.)

While reading today’s Times story about Touby’s $5.9 million loft and $30,000 sofa, I thought of Spiers again and decided to finally ask about her Fishbowl days. I wrote: “It’s always been my contention that you’re responsible for Mediabistro taking off with the Fishbowls and that you deserved some of the millions when it was sold.” Her response:

When Laurel hired me, I took the job on the condition that they let me redesign the site and launch a bunch of blogs, including the Fishbowls which I thought would attract an audience beyond their existing first-time-freelancer-trying-break-in demo. They had TVnewser already (I think Jesse Oxfeld found Brian) but it sort of existed as a stand-alone site and the only content mb had was a daily feature (mostly “how to pitch…” articles) and a morning newsletter that aggregated the day’s media news.

They weren’t trying to monetize their content at the time — all of their revenue was coming from the job board and the classes — so it wasn’t as much of a priority for Laurel as it is now. I don’t think they anticipated that it would be a big part of their business or create opportunities for them in the events space.

And I didn’t make any money off the mb sale, but that’s my own fault. I had options and when I left, Laurel offered to buy them back and I let her. So I missed out but through no fault of hers.

Setting the record straight
In today’s Times story, CJR editor Cyndi Stivers says of Touby: “She also had a really good eye for talent. She spotted Brian Stelter when he was a college student. She spotted Rachel Sklar.”

Actually, other people “spotted” the talent for Touby. Spiers tells me that she hired Sklar, and Jesse Oxfeld confirms in an email that he hired Stelter.

Touby’s honesty — you have to love it
“Look, we don’t want teachers in Iowa on the site,” Touby told the New York Sun in 2005. (That means you, Stephen Bloom!)

UPDATE: Oxfeld was headed into a meeting when I contacted him earlier and he promised a more detailed email when it ended. Here’s that email:

I did indeed hire Brian, after finding him in the most obscure of ways: A front-page story in The New York Times. (I suppose you could argue Julie Bosman really gets the credit.)

Oxfeld

But I reached out to him, bought him a train ticket to New York, took him to Balthazar, and convinced him to take what he’d been doing and let us pay him a little bit for it. My only great contribution was to convince him that he should expand beyond just the world of cable, and I renamed CableNewser as TVNewser. I also launched GalleyCat, intitially edited by Nathalie Chicha, who came up with the name, and if I recall correctly we put out a release announcing these two hires and touting MB’s “Blogs Initiative.”

In any case, Laurel sold the company on the strenth of its listings business, which is where the money was, and in that respect, Kyle Crafton, who built that, deserves far more millions than either Elizabeth or I (and, in fact, I believe received at least far more thousands).

* Choire Sicha: People have been scandalized by NYT’s article about Touby’s loft (theawl.com)
* From 2005: Who will replace Spiers as Mediabistro editor? (gawker.com)

After reading in the Los Angeles Times that Mitt Romney is considering a monthly newsletter to keep in touch with supporters, Michael Schaffer went to work and came up with priceless pitch to potential advertisers.

An excerpt:

MITT’S MONTHLY will not simply be a newsmagazine. Rather, it will feature reporting and essays sure to appeal to the full spectrum of readers, from private-equity managers to Olympic Committee chairmen.

And one thing we can guarantee is that the magazine will never become boring and predictable. In fact, it may take a different editorial stance each month! …

In this time of socialism-induced economic uncertainty, becoming a launch advertiser in MITT’S MONTHLY makes sound business sense. And becoming a subscriber is crucial for anyone serious about taking personal responsibility for their lives.

* Mitt Romney’s new magazine: a preview (tnr.com)

One of the most embarrassing tweeting accidents I’ve been tipped off to: A few months ago, a Florida sports reporter tweeted his latest story to his followers, but the shortened URL he sent out was to a porn video that he had apparently just watched. I decided against posting the mistake.

I got a note this morning from the Brookings Institution about a book and video series on veteran Washington reporters that might be of interest to Romenesko readers. Here’s what the Brookings communications director sent:

Brookings scholar Steve Hess has a new book out – Whatever Happened to the Washington Reporters, 1978-2012 — [in which he] follows up with the 450 Washington reporters he first surveyed in 1978, locating 90 percent of these reporters and interviews 283 of them, producing the first comprehensive study of career patterns in American journalism.

Steve’s book is a data-driven, human interest look into the nation’s media elite. The book seeks to answer: What happened to the reporters within their organizations? Did they change jobs? Move from reporter to editor or producer? Jump from one type of medium to another—from print to TV? Did they remain in Washington or go somewhere else? Which ones left journalism? Why? Where did they go?

“To add fuller color to his findings, Steve created a video series from his numerous interviews with these journalists, some of whom became media luminaries, including Brit Hume, Nina Totenberg, Linda Greenhouse, Barry Sussman, and Kitty Kelley. The full video series can be found here with new videos posting weekly.

Watch interviews with:
* Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume
* NPR’s Nina Totenberg
* Washington Post’s Barry Sussman
* Author Kitty Kelley
* New York Times’ Linda Greenhouse
* NBC’s Bernard Kalb

Here’s an update on yesterday’s story about the Hudson (NY) Register-Star firing a reporter after he refused to allow his byline on a story: The city editor and two more reporters have left the paper. “It is not clear if they quit in protest over the firing of Tom Casey or if their resignations were requested as a consequence of ‘insubordination,‘” writes Carole Osterink. (UPDATE: Tom Casey confirms this morning that the three resigned to protest his firing.)

City editor Francesca Olsen and reporters Billy Shannon and Adam Shanks resigned on Wednesday, after Casey was dismissed in a dispute over two paragraphs that an editor inserted in his story. (They were about an alderman refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at a meeting.)

My messages for the publisher, executive editor and the paper’s HR director haven’t been returned. I spoke briefly with Casey — he was busy dealing with this week’s drama — and will be talking to him again this afternoon.

The Register-Star, which has a small news staff, quickly posted a help-wanted ad on journalismjobs.com after Casey was fired.

* City editor and two reporters leave the Register-Star (gossipsofrivertown.com)
* Hudson Register-Star reporter fired after refusing to allow byline on story (jimromenesko.com)

The Touby/Fine loft. (Credit: Trevor Tondro)

Laurel Touby sold Mediabistro for $23 million in 2007 and spent about a quarter of that on a 4,000-square-foot loft. The 49-year-old entrepreneur and her husband, former Businessweek media writer Jon Fine, threw a housewarming party for 200 people last week, then sat down for an interview with Penelope Green. She writes:

Some mornings, Mr. Fine said, they wake up expecting someone to throw them out of their fancy-pants loft. “If so, I’d still feel lucky,” he said. “I was looking for Laurel for a very long time.”

As for Ms. Touby, her anxieties transcend the price of her furniture, she said. When pressed on what she spends time worrying about, she answered quickly.

“Losing it all,” she said. “Or being forgotten.”

* The loft that Mediabistro built (nytimes.com)
* Of course, Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan has something to say about this (gawker.com)
* Earlier: Nolan has to “speak the unvarnished – and sometimes mean – truth” (jimromenesko.com)

More to read…
* David Simon recalls when he “swore off the sex lives of the famous as journalistic currency.” (davidsimon.com)
* Audit Bureau of Circulations changes its name to Alliance for Audited Media. (nytimes.com)
* FCC recommends cross-ownership waivers for Tribune Co. (chicagotribune.com)
* USA Today memo announces newsroom changes. (gannettblog.com)
* “Impossible tasks” at the Washington Post: CJR on Brauchli’s and Baron’s duties. (cjr.org)
* “I’m terrified at the prospect of not writing,” says Michael Wilbon. (shermanreport.com)
* What journalism can teach the business world. (forbes.com)
* The Magazine Museum in Skokie, Ill., is a quiet place. (dailynorthwestern.com)
* What it was like living with Jayson Blair during his darkest days. (curbed.com)
* Guy Fieri on Pete Wells slam on his Times Square restaurant: “I thought it was ridiculous.” (mediabistro.com) | Olive Garden fan Marilyn Hagerty weighs in, too. (jimromenesko.com)
* Warren Buffett sells some of his recently acquired Lee Enterprises stock. (reuters.com)
* “I think Twitter is like another vehicle for letting us zip around Facts,” says Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke. (ajr.org)