Daily Archives: January 27, 2015

I called WSPA-TV (Spartanburg, SC) this afternoon to confirm an Onion-like story about the station using a cardboard cutout named “Michelle” to remind reporters that she’s their target audience.

- via

– via

The newsroom employee who picked up the phone told me that staffers were instructed not to discuss Michelle – only the bosses at the Media General-owned station could talk about her – so I left a message for news director Karen Kelly. (One question I have: Is this something that TV news consultants are recommending to clients around the country?)

Here’s Kelly’s memo to her reporters and producers (via

Subject: MEET Michelle

Michelle is who you want watching your newscasts, your stories.

She will be in every editorial meeting with us and in the newsroom during the day. She will likely make occasional trips to Greenville and Anderson.

When you pitch, pitch to her. When you write, write to her.

This is who we need watching in February.

Women 25-54 is her demo.

She has children and she cares about:
Their Safety
Saving Money
Recalls that have impact on her family

Even if you think a story doesn’t directly impact Michelle find a way to write it to her.

Give her additional information that is relevant to her.

Post stories and send alerts on stories she cares about.

* Media General station hires cardboard cutout (

New: “I certainly understand the cynicism this arouses, but…” (

From an Indianapolis Star investigative reporter:

It’s all a misunderstanding, the governor now says.

The Indianapolis Star recently obtained a state document that described a soon-to-launch state-run news agency called Just IN, which will have everything from news scoops to listicles.

Gov. Mike Pence

Gov. Mike Pence

“At times, Just IN will break news – publishing information ahead of any other news outlet,” says the document out of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office. “Just IN … will function as a news outlet in its own right for thousands of Hoosiers – transparent in functioning as a voice of the State of Indiana’s executive branch.”

Pence’s plans were immediately criticized by journalists and others. (A parody Twitter account was set up, too.) Star columnist Matthew Tully writes today:

I’m sure many people have been asking the same question that a Star reader named Becky Martin Kevoian asked on Facebook Monday: “How is this even remotely a function of our state government?”

The answer: It’s not. Hopefully Planet Pence will figure this out and kill this idea before it further embarrasses him.

Pence now says there’s been an “understandable misunderstanding” of what his office plans to do with Just IN.

“My understanding is that the website that has become a source of controversy was simply to have a one-stop shopping website for press releases and information,” the governor says. “It’s meant to be a resource, not a news source and we’ll be clarifying that in the days ahead.”

The site’s managing editor is Bill McCleery, who left the Indianapolis Star for the governor’s office in November.

* Indiana governor to explain his soon-to-launch news site (
* “The Mike Pence News Service” is a horrible idea (
* Indiana editors say they won’t use the governor’s service (
* Earlier: Ex-Indy Star reporter to run governor’s new news service (
* The parody Twitter account (@Just_In-News)

Norman Weiss’s TV Tattle blog is now hosted by TV Insider, a new site from TV Guide Magazine parent TVGM Holdings, LLC.

Weiss tells Romenesko readers:

The TV Insider opportunity came quickly after my exit from Hitfix, which was the result of budgetary cuts. By chance, TV Insider was launching in a few weeks.tattle And I was invited to revive TV Tattle once again. I will be doing most of the same things that I’ve always been doing, posting throughout the day on weekdays and if/when stuff happens on weekends.

TV Insider spokesperson Jessica Ricci says “the decision to reach out [to Weiss] was a no-brainer” because “as a long-time TV enthusiast and respected curator of the best TV news roundup you can find, Norman embodies the spirit of our readers.”

Weiss started TV Tattle in 2000 and worked independently until April of 2013. His site was hosted by HitFix from May 2013 to December 2014.

* TV Insider | TV Tattle (
* December 2014: TV Tattle and HitFix split up (
* April 2013: TV Tattle calls it quits after 13 years (

Gawker Media executive editor Tommy Craggs tells his staff: “I will leave it to you and your scruples to determine if publishing a Super Bowl commercialsuper on your website is worth the coarsening of your soul and of the culture at large (sometimes it is​!). But, really, please refrain.”

From: Tommy Craggs
Date: Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 12:23 PM
Subject: Super Bowl commercials
To: edit

Memo from the Ministry of Agitation, Propaganda, and Ideological Purity:

This week, there will be a number of “leaked” Super Bowl commercials floating around the internet. Some of them will be entertaining. Many of them will bring a great deal of traffic to any website that posts them. A few of them will be hoaxes, or at the very least hoaxish. I’ve expressed my feelings on the matter in many different forums and over many varieties of alcohol, and I will leave it to you and your scruples to determine if publishing a Super Bowl commercial on your website is worth the coarsening of your soul and of the culture at large (sometimes it is​!). But, really, please refrain.


“From the ‘Just how New York Times can you be?’ category,” writes tipster Rhoda Miel.

* Hoping to set sail on sunlight (
* Unnecessarily formal, New York Times (Part 1) (

New: Read comments from my Facebook friends and subscribers

– h/t Rhoda Miel and Kerri Jansen

A tipster writes: “The Chattanooga Times Free Press handed out 2% bonuses Monday to all employees. Then later in the day, President Bruce Hartmann announced a round of layoffs. Four are gone from the newsroom, plus an unknown amount of layoffs in other parts of the building.”

The Times Free Press is owned by Little Rock-based WEHCO Media.

To: Chattanooga Times Free Press Employees
Fr: Bruce Hartmann
Date: January 26, 2015
Re: Bonuses

Thank you for the effort you put forth last year. Due to that effort, I have some great news to share. ChattanoogLogoFor the combined second and third quarter of 2014, the Chattanooga Times Free Press improved financial performance over the same quarters of 2013. This is due primarily to increased circulation revenue from our higher priced subscription policy implemented during last year and your watchful eyes on expenses.

Overall advertising revenues are down in the second and third quarters, coming from both Classified and Retail. We are working hard to put plans in place to help us change the trend.

Based on these results and trends, we do not believe we can yet remove the wage freeze we have had in effect, but we do want to share with you our improved results over these two quarters of 2014.

We have prepared a one-time special bonus equal to 2% of your regular wages and salaries for those of you working during this two quarter period of 2014.

This bonus will be paid on January 28th, 2015 as a separate paycheck. These will be real checks.

Our success in the future depends more than anything else on the dedication, innovation and hard work of those who make the Times Free Press the best newspaper in Tennessee. We appreciate everything you have done to help us be successful and we look forward to sharing even more positive news with you in 2015.

* Here’s the paper version of the bonuses memo (Google Drive)

* Count to 5 one more time, New York magazine. (@thomgeier)
* A former CIA officer is found guilty of leaking to New York Times reporter James Risen. (
* Fusion fails with its “20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Work at BuzzFeed” post, then decides to change the hed. (
* Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza names “the best state political reporters.” (
* Voice Media Group’s OC Weekly is for sale. (
* Marquette’s Lori Bergen and four others are finalists for the dean’s job at University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information. (
* Ken Doctor has a new weekly Capital New York column called “What Are They Thinking?” (
* CNN announces it’s now on Snapchat and adds: “No, it’s not what you think.” (
* Uni-Watch on the brands that TV weather correspondents wore yesterday. (
* Jonathan Chait: “Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity.” (
* Deflategate is one of worst “-gates” ever, says Rem Rieder. (
* “For better or for worse, people believe what they read on the Internet.” (
* AOL video game site Joystiq acknowledges the many reports about its probable demise. (
* Newspaper chain Lee Enterprises, which recently lost its CFO and PR guy, now says its news veep is departing. (
* “Lately I’ve found that the media (here in Australia particularly) has become extremely lazy with sourcing,” says the man behind (
jones* FYI, TNT correspondent: Actress Rashida Jones (left) is ethnic, not tan. (
* Taylor Swift was not involved in the death of a Mexican journalist. (
* Newsroom pranks recalled. (
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