UPDATED: This has been a long-rumored possibility for the tech blog started in 2007 and run by co-executive editors Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. Fortune first reported that the separation would come at year’s end, when the current partnership agreement expires. News Corp subsidiary Dow Jones would keep the AllThingsD brand and Mossberg will leave behind his Wall Street Journal tech column after being at the paper forever, fellow Dow Jones property WSJ reports. Fortune says potential new investors include NBCUniversal, Bloomberg, Conde Nast, Cox and The Washington Post, which was just acquired by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, a regular on AllThingsD’s digital pages. It also says a formal announcement from AllThingsD is expected later today, so stay tuned. Dow Jones editor-in-chief and WSJ managing editor Gerard Baker said the paper is expanding its technology coverage and conference franchise overseas, and the plan is to build a new digital home for tech coverage “including the addition of 20 reviewers, bloggers, visual journalists, editors and reporters covering digital”.
Less than two hours after Barry Diller extolled the value of his Aereo streaming service on the same stage, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group took a different view. “I think it is wrong. I think it is illegal, I think it is opportunistic piracy,” Anne Sweeney said today. “It’s taking advantage of our content”, she added. ABC is one of the broadcasters suing the Diller-backed Aereo for copyright infringement. Earlier in the day, Diller had spoken of how he was glad the broadcasters had sued him because of all the attention it brought the small but growing service.
“Those two channels are covering political news. We’re covering politics and much more,” Jeff Zucker said today of Fox News and MSNBC. “Our competition now is two political channels that have actually left most of the actual news coverage to the side,” he also said. The CNN chief was appearing Wednesday with IAC chair Barry Diller at this year’s D11 conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes. “News is how you define it, we define it broadly as news and information. We’re expanding the audience that is watching CNN. In order to be successful, we need to bring new viewers,” he added stressing that elements of CNN programming have more in common now with Discovery and Nat Geo than FNC and MSNBC. “The key to us is to make CNN essential on whatever platform it is on,” Zucker noted. He added that his cable news rivals “do a good job” at what they cover.
“Protecting the brand is the key and one of the things I’ve been so warmed by is how strong and vibrant the CNN brand continues to be even when their ratings have not been what they used to be,” Zucker responded to a question from the audience about some of the less than hard news stories the network has covered since he took over. “I don’t think that hurt the CNN brand, he said of the network’s extensive coverage of the crippled Carnival Triumph cruise liner earlier this year. Zucker also was on the defensive about errors that CNN have made under his watch. “We made a mistake in Boston and we corrected it within 45 minutes of airing. The Boston Globe, who I think will probably win the Pulitzer Prize for their Boston coverage, didn’t correct for hours,” he said of the cable news network’s incorrect on-air assertion that an arrest had been made in the Boston Marathon bombing case.
“I got seduced into Newsweek,” said Barry Diller today about his plan to sell the new magazine brand. “We started Daily Beast and it worked really well and we built up nice audiences. But we somehow …
Apple‘s Tim Cook faced the billion-dollar question right off the bat at the annual AllThingsD tech conference Tuesday night: “Is Apple in trouble?” The CEO threw out a few calculated bones: the unveiling of a new iOS and OS X refresh in June at its WWDC conference, the hire of ex-EPA head Lisa Jackson as the company’s new environmental czar. But, as he did last year, Cook again skirted the toughest topics in his second visit to the AllThingsD tech conference leaving Applewatchers frustrated. “We believe very much in the element of surprise,” he said. “We think customers love surprises.” (UPDATE: Check out the full conversation below.)
If shareholders are concerned over Apple’s dipping stock prices — down 36% since September — Cook appeared unfazed. “The beauty of being around for a while is you see a lot of cycles,” he said. “Our North Star is always on making the best products. So we always come back to that.” But for all the emphasis on quality of usage, e-commerce and customer satisfaction over the number of units sold in the smartphone arena, Cook didn’t offer new-product reveals or the kind of game-changers Apple needs to maintain the pace set by the late Steve Jobs. (He did reveal that Apple bought 9 companies in the past year but didn’t announce them all.) Pressed on why Apple doesn’t expand its iPhone line with larger screens, stylus tablets, or cheaper alternative models like its competitors do, Cook blamed the trade-offs involved in crafting variants in a line versus improving the same model. “Are we now at a point that we need to do that?” he asked.
Aaron Sorkin said today that he had a lot of hesitation about tackling a movie about Steve Jobs. “It is a little like writing about The Beatles,” Sorkin said at the AllThingsD conference this morning. Sorkin said he “saw a minefield of disappointment” from Jobs aficionados in taking on the script for the recently announced film based on Walter Isaacson’s bestselling biography. While the Oscar winner says it’s difficult “to shake the cradle to grave” approach of a book like Isaacson’s when adapting it for the screen, Sorkin says his approach is “going to identify the point of friction that appeals to me.” Sorkin, who received blowback for liberties he took with the actual life of Mark Zuckerberg in 2010’s The Social Network, told the conference crowd that they should think of biopics as “a painting, not a photograph.”
Problem is, Apple CEO Tim Cook won’t say what they are. He told the AllThingD conference tonight that he has never been so amazed as he is by “all the things I cannot talk about today.” In fact, Cook said the notoriously tight-lipped Apple would “double down on secrecy on products”. On the TV front, however, Cook made no secret of his enthusiasm for Steve Jobs’ pledge to change television with Apple TV like iTunes changed music. “We have a good relationship with the content owners,” Cook replied when asked about Apple and the Hollywood studios. “I’ve met with several of them recently; they were talking about what more we could do with them.” (Cook made a point of noting his respect for what Apple board member Bob Iger has accomplished at Disney.) Cook wouldn’t disclose what those discussions with Hollywood were about, except to say, “most people would say that TV is not an area of their life they are completely pleased with.”