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THR Blasted With $150M Defamation Suit By David Bergstein

By | Friday February 21, 2014 @ 10:02am PST

DJP LEGAL BADGEAfter years of court battles of his own, David Bergstein is now turning the legal spotlight onto The Hollywood Reporter – for $150 million. Earlier this week the film financier filed a defamation suit against the trade and parent company Prometheus Global Media. “Defendants’ reporting included material misstatements which were imgresnot matters of opinion, inference, shading or context, but were simply untrue,” says the February 19 filing in New York state court (read it here). Seeking “not less than” $100 million in damages and $50 million more in other compensation, the detailed complaint alleges that the trade deliberately allowed biased and false reporting against the film financier by one reporter in particular – Alex Ben Block.

Also claiming business interference and conspiracy, the very litigious producer is alleging that Block, who wrote the vast majority of the trade publication’s stories about Bergstein’s bankruptcy and other proceeds, was in the pocket of Aramid Entertainment’s David Molner, a former business associate of the film financier’s and his primary legal adversary. “Plaintiff was advised that Block was paid and compensated by Molner, and Block and defendants were given special access in return for the favorable bias which defendants’ articles set forth. Block and defendants continued to play a key role in furthering Molner’s improper efforts,” the 24-page complaint claims. Read More »

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Guggenheim Digital Media Loses Another Top Exec

Zander LurieEXCLUSIVE: EVP Zander Lurie has confirmed that he plans to leave Guggenheim Digital Media. That will make him the second of CEO Ross Levinsohn’s top lieutenants to bolt over the past three months, and company watchers are wondering how long the former Yahoo interim CEO will remain at the firm that owns The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek, Dick Clark Productions and other entertainment properties. Lurie, a former CFO and M&A guy at CBS Interactive, joined last February to help with Levinsohn’s expansion plans at Guggenheim Digital, owned by financial services firm Guggenheim Partners. A year ago tomorrow — when Guggenheim announced that it had hired Levinsohn — it said that it planned to allocate “significant capital to acquire and invest in new media companies and properties that will meaningfully expand its current portfolio.” But Levinsohn appears to have lost his mojo. In November Michel Protti – who was Levinsohn’s chief of staff at Yahoo – announced his plan to leave as Guggenheim Digital’s SVP Strategy and Operations to become Director of Emerging Business at Facebook. Last week, Levinsohn lost control of THR and Billboard as Guggenheim Media promoted Janice Min to Chief Creative Officer of its Entertainment Group, which includes the magazines, with John Amato serving as co-president overseeing business affairs. Both report to Guggenheim Partners President Todd Boehly, as does Levinsohn. A company rep declined comment on Levinsohn’s status.

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The Hollywood Reporter Trafficks In Crap

By | Thursday October 24, 2013 @ 2:50am PDT

As you know, Deadline is laser-focused on reporting accurately about the business of Hollywood and ignoring its celebrity bullshit. By contrast, The Hollywood Reporter rumor-mongers inaccurately about the business of Hollywood and gorges on celebrity bullshit. My parent company was curious what September/October stories drove the most traffic to THR’s website. No surprise, the results were these phony headlines, photo galleries, and moronic content:

Be Miley Cyrus for Halloween: Get the Foam Finger on Amazon
Two British Men Sentenced for Oompa-Loompa Attack
The Year of the Too-Orange Spray Tan
Miley Cyrus Slams ‘Breaking Bad’: ‘The Coughing Is Driving Me Crazy’
Lamar Odom Breaks Twitter Silence, Defends Khloe Kardashian
Runway Model Punches Topless Protesters
The Kardashian Family’s Summer of Bummers (Photo Gallery)
Justin Bieber Fan Spends $100K on Plastic Surgery to Look Like the Singer
Miley Cyrus’ Most Controversial Moments (Photo Gallery)
Justin Bieber’s Latest ‘Believe’ Promo Is a Bummer (Video)
Noel Gallagher Calls One Direction ‘F–king Idiots’

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Time Warner Says THR/Barry Meyer Claims “Complete Fabrication”

The Hollywood Reporter has really hurt their credibility. I don’t understand how they could write that stuff. It isn’t true,” Time Warner told me. The Hollywood Reporter Jeffrey BewkesThe strong denial was about a July 11th THR article claiming that Time Warner chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes recently asked Warner Bros chairman and CEO Barry Meyer to remain on the job beyond his scheduled December 2013 departure date – and the veteran executive declined. THR hangs it on ”a knowledgeable source”. Time Warner explained to me, “This story is a complete fabrication. We could not lie about it. Why would we lie about this? Because it’s going to come out one way or the other. Everybody who talked to the Reporter explained that no part of this is true – but they kept writing. How ridiculous.” As for who replaces Barry Meyer, that is if anyone replaces him, ”There’s not even any need to make a decision at the end of 2013.” My own opinion is that the three Warner Bros division heads who make up the Office Of The President — Jeff Robinov, Bruce Rosenblum, Kevin Tsujihara (in alphabetical order) — could continue comfortably like that reporting to Bewkes for years.

One of the main reasons The Hollywood Reporter has lost many millions of dollars (informed sources even put the figure as high as $10 million since it got into business with Guggenheim Partners) is that it’s no longer trusted by the Hollywood community. That’s what happens … Read More »

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Variety For Sale! (Because It Can’t Compete With Deadline Hollywood)

I don’t want to start any rumors that Deadline Hollywood is going to buy Variety. But I am curious what the square footage is of Variety President Neil Stiles’ office… That Reed Business Information today announced it is beginning a process to sell Variety doesn’t come as a surprise to me. In fact, for the past year, I’ve been predicting it would go on the block in April 2012 based on my sources’ accurate information. (They told me Reed was merely waiting until the end of Oscar season and that “For Your Consideration’ ad revenue.) This follows the divestment by RBI of its other U.S. business magazines over the past three years. The last time Variety was put up for sale was when parent company Reed Elsevier trie to auction its b-to-b publishing unit RBI as a whole in February 2008 but took it off the block late that year citing the down global markets. But the price tag was unrealistically high. And now Variety is worth far less.

Reed can see that Variety’s best days are behind it: that awards advertising has slumped, that its paywall isn’t the panacea now that its print edition is too thin and its online posting not a priority, and that its showbiz reporting is increasingly inaccurate. (Just today, Variety wrongly claimed that The Hunger Games‘ midnight shows grossed $25M when the real number was $19.75M.) Why, just the other month, I was having a conversation with Neil Stiles where he admitted to me that a recent survey conducted by Variety showed that Deadline was the most consumed online trade by the entertainment industry: way more than Variety, and way way more than The Hollywood Reporter. (Stiles also confirmed to me he’s working without a contract but denies rumors that he’s on the way out and about to retire to his new home in Florida.) Meanwhile, other media outlets keep reporting that investor Guggenheim Partners wants to sell The Hollywood Reporter Read More »

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UPDATE: Prometheus Selling ‘Back Stage’; The Hollywood Reporter’s Parent Company “Dropping Assets Like Flies Now”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Parent Company Continues To Cost Cut: Prometheus Pulled Plug On Hollywood Creative Directory

UPDATE: Prometheus Global Media is now confirming what I reported last night; that it’s unloading yet another showbiz asset. Instead of calling this a sale, it’s calling this a financial “alliance” with a group of investors led by John Amato who used to be president of a NYC taxi advertising company called Show Media. Amato now becomes CEO of Back Stage. When Prometheus couldn’t sell the media outlet outright, Prometheus joint owner Guggenheim Partners put up most of the money for the investor group to buy it. ”They are going to position it as not a sale, but as a strategic partnership. But this is not true: Guggenheim is doing debt financing and holding a carried minority interest, but this new group is assuming control (including control of board),” one of my insiders tells me. Though no financial details were announced, insiders tell me the investor group is putting up $5 million and Guggenheim is financing $10M to $15M more. “Again, they are trying to pretend it’s not a sale for PR reasons, but in any other company it would be regarded as a sale,” the source said. Explained another insider, “They’re dropping assets like flies now.”

EXCLUSIVE SUNDAY 11 PM: The Hollywood Reporter’s parent company is … Read More »

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The Hollywood Reporter’s Parent Company Continues To Cost Cut: Prometheus Pulled Plug On Hollywood Creative Directory; Adweek Also In Trouble And In Turmoil

By | Thursday September 29, 2011 @ 4:28pm PDT

Deadline recently wrote that The Hollywood Reporter was laying off and/or firing staff because of financial problems. Internal sources at embattled parent company Prometheus Global Media revealed to Deadline this week that the Hollywood Creative Directory employees, comprised of its publishing director of 17 years Valencia McKinley and her staff of three, were laid off and informed that the outlet had been sold. There’s no question that Prometheus is looking to cut costs, especially with The Hollywood Reporter hemorrhaging red ink because of soaring overhead. Two execs from the previous and new administrations say the Hollywood Creative Directory has its own P&L therefore it’s a separate entity inside Prometheus — even though the HCD website reads “The Hollywood Creative Directory is part of the information services unit of The Hollywood Reporter.” That’s apparently only for co-branding purposes. Interestingly, one insider doesn’t even think the HCD was sold. Another believes that was just a cover story so Prometheus’ money problems wouldn’t be made public. There’s also news that another Prometheus publication, Adweek, is suffering declining ad revenue under its redesign with editor Michael Wolff hired last October. But now the high-profile Wolff is considered a goner. So that’s another Prometheus publication in trouble. Read More »

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BREAKING! Deadline’s Parent Company Sues The Hollywood Reporter’s Parent Company For Copyright Infringement

2ND UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has just removed from its website PMC’s unique and original featured module comprised of source code that produced PMC-owned TVLine.com’s distinctive homepage. This egregious theft and other issues form the basis for the copyright infringement lawsuit which Deadline’s parent company PMC filed today against The Hollywood Reporter’s parent company Prometheus Global Media.

PMC had spent numerous months and substantial resources in researching and developing the most optimized, intuitive, and user-friendly way to come up with a creative, unique, and interactive featured module for its TVLine.com. The featured module was created using unique and original source code. On or around August 2011, THR copied and stole PMC’s source code for this featured module, and as a result THR’s homepage featured module is nearly identical to that of TVLine. Even the names and labels of THR’s source code is identical to TVLine’s. PMC was formerly known as Mail.com Media Corporation, commonly referred to under the acronym MMC. For that reason, the initials ‘MMC’ appear in each of the labels. THR’s source code and module still contained the initials ‘MMC’ in its labels. THR’s source code also flagrantly contained PMC’s same inadvertent misspelling of the word ‘Carousel’.

UPDATE 1 PM: Yes, Hollywood is indeed buzzing about today’s lawsuit. And so are mediacentric websites.

PREVIOUS 11 AM: For the record, Penske Media Corporation, the parent company and owner of various leading digital media properties including Deadline.com, this morning sued Prometheus Global Media LLC, which owns and operates The Hollywood Reporter, for copyright infringement. Here is the link to PMC’s complaint and its exhibits. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and requesting a jury trial, is very juicy and makes for great reading. Here is the summary: Read More »

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The Truth Hurts The Hollywood Reporter…

By | Friday September 9, 2011 @ 4:08pm PDT

Today my parent company boss received a letter from lawyers for Prometheus Global Media, the owner of The Hollywood Reporter, claiming “it has come to our client’s attention that your employee, Nikki Finke of Deadline.com, is now engaged in conduct on your behalf that crosses the line from her usual bad behavior to a concerted and unlawful attempt to disrupt THR’s business. In an effort to gain a competitive advantage for Deadline.com, Ms. Finke falsely has told THR advertisers and others in the Hollywood community that THR is experiencing financial problems [sic] will cause it to make massive layoffs, end its print edition and/or go out of business, or be sold by Prometheus.” I’m also accused of harrassing THR staff such as ”emailing one employee with the threat of ‘humiliating’ him…” The lawyers then emailed me.

Here was my response (which my boss wants me to share with you):

To: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, NYC

You can stick this letter up your asses if you think you can intimidate me as a journalist who has spent months now reporting and preparing an article about The Hollywood Reporter which I plan to publish very soon. If anything I have been very circumspect about informing Hollywood about the truth regarding THR. Because the truth hurts:

– This week THR laid off/fired more staffers in addition to the other staffers laid off/fired this summer alone.

– I have contacted THR staffers only when they claim ‘exclusives’ that aren’t (because Deadline had the true earlier ‘exclusive’) or when THR staffers steal Deadline content (our exclusives with no reference or link). [See cease and desist letter which Deadline sent to THR on February 25th, 2011.] I have been warning other reporters and other media outlets about this as well. Which is why I plan to start “naming names” of reporters who slap their bylines on Deadline’s exclusive information. They deserve humiliation for it.

– In the case of the staffer you refer to, he admitted he was wrong and changed his copy after I contacted him.

– THR’s investors have complained publicly about how much red ink The Hollywood Reporter is hemorrhaging.

– THR’s management have complained publicly about problems with ad sales staff and cash reserves.

– THR staff keep calling me and asking for jobs saying they are worried about The Hollywood Reporter’s future.

– THR keeps coming after Deadline’s staff to hire them “with a blank check” even though we have contracts.

– Prometheus just removed its CEO Richard Beckman.

– Your own publisher Lynne Segall shared with me multiple reports about how much red ink The Hollywood Reporter has been hemorrhaging, how much ad sales it was losing, and other negative information. She also went into the marketplace on a daily basis sharing this info with Hollywood showing Deadline was the superior buy.

– Guggenheim’s Todd Boehly slandered me to Bloomberg/Business Week. You should also be aware that he in the past exhibited extremely inappropriate behavior towards me when he was offering me the THR editorship.

– Prometheus’ Richard Beckman slandered me in the pages of THR and in multiple interviews and emails.

– Prometheus’ Beckman and THR’s Janice Min have slandered me to multiple journalists.

– THR’s Matt Belloni wrote a slanderous email about me which he circulated widely around Hollywood.

– Comparing Deadline To THR in terms of editorial quality or traffic numbers is like comparing The Economist to The National Enquirer. Deadline is an elite business trade about film and TV that does not cover celebrities. Beckman himself banned his staff from using the word “trade” to describe THR which has a gossip editor running it and not a veteran business journalist. For this reason, THR’s multiple house ads slandering Deadline are misleading, false, and intended to harm us in the marketplace. As is the case with all of the above, including this letter you just sent me.

Now get the fuck out of my face.

Read More »

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Summit Scandal At The Hollywood Reporter

EXCLUSIVE: I have learned that editors of The Hollywood Reporter this month deleted embarrassing information about Summit Entertainment principals from a financial story about the studio’s refinancing in order to “horse-trade” it for the cover story interview with Jodie Foster that appears in this week’s print edition. No one is denying to me this occurred. But both THR and Summit agreed to keep the horse-trading secret. So much for real journalism taking place at that Hollywood media outlet under its new ownership. In fact, showbiz sources tell me that this incident is “just the tip of the iceberg” about what’s going on there. So here’s what happened in this case:

THR‘s Alex Ben Block was writing a financial story about Summit Entertainment’s recent $750 million refinancing and obtained some very pertinent information slipped him about what portion of a $200M distribution would be paid to the studio’s principals and investors. In particular, Summit wanted to keep secret that studio bigwigs co-chairman Patrick Wachsberger and COO Bob Hayward would pocket in the neighborhood of $30 million and co-chairman Rob Friedman would pocket around $7 million. (Wachsberger and Hayward founded Summit, and Friedman came in as an investor in 2007. I can only assume news of lavish payouts sows discord among those who don’t receive such lavish payouts.) But that info never made it into Block’s published story “because Summit didn’t want it to get out,” a THR insider told Deadline. “So a deal was made for the Jodie Foster interview.”

THR news editor Matt Belloni and editor-in-chief … Read More »

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Variety Loses 2 Senior Staffers In One Week

By | Friday December 10, 2010 @ 5:45pm PST

Is this a trend? First, Dana Harris left Variety for IndieWIRE earlier this week. Now Pam McClintock is departing Variety for The Hollywood Reporter. (But will its women’s magazine still be in business in another 6 months since THR‘s new owners are panicking about all the money going out instead of coming in?)

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UPDATE: Elizabeth Guider And Andrew Wallenstein Exit The Hollywood Reporter

By and | Monday October 11, 2010 @ 11:01am PDT

UPDATE: It’s finally official: The Hollywood Reporter announced today that Elizabeth Guider is stepping down as Editor after three years at the helm of the newsroom. Guider had been told she was out almost as soon as THR parent e5 Global Media CEO Richard Beckman took over in January, then was left twisting in the wind after Janice Min took over as editorial director in May. The Hollywood Reporter announcement cited the fiction that it was Guider’s decision to step down because of “personal family issues” and her “desire to finish a book”. She will freelance for the paper. ”It has been an honor and a pleasure to lead The Hollywood Reporter‘s newsroom during such interesting, if challenging, times,” Guider said.

Also exiting is Andrew Wallenstein, who has headed the trade-turned-celebrity sheet’s digital operations for the past 2 years. His departure was somewhat of a surprise. But, in the end, Min wanted to do her own thing. ”After eight years with THR, the time is right to move on,” Wallenstein said in a statement. “I leave with the satisfaction that comes with my extensive reporting on the media business, from technology to television, as well as leading our website to editorial excellence and category-leading traffic numbers.”

(I will be posting a comprehensive look at THR and all its changes later this week.)

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TOLDJA! Disney Acquires Joseph Kosinski’s Graphic Novel ‘Oblivion’

Mike Fleming

Will ‘Oblivion’ Go To Disney For Kosinski?
“Tron: Legacy’ Director Kosinski Pitching ‘Oblivion’ To Direct

I see that The Hollywood Reporter is trumpeting an “exclusive” on the deal right now, but if you consider all Deadline has written on this sales effort–including that Disney was close to a deal–that’s like racing to the top of what you think is an uncharted hilltop, glimpsing my crumpled Bud Light empties scattered about, and then planting your flag anyway. Nice try!

Disney closed its deal to acquire Oblivion, the Radical Publishing graphic novel that will be turned into a directing vehicle for Tron:Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski. Deadline reported on Monday that Disney had the inside track and an exclusive negotiating window after four studios bid on the property following last week’s pitch effort. The other studios in the running were Paramount, Fox’s Chernin Entertainment and Universal. Read More »

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Steve McPherson’s Lawyer Marty Singer Faxes Letter To The Hollywood Reporter Demanding “Apology And Retraction”

EXCLUSIVE: Last night, at 9:13 PM, outgoing ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson’s pit bull litigator Marty Singer faxed the following letter to The Hollywood Reporter. It accuses THR of becoming an “outrageous scandal sheet” now that former US magazine editor Janice Min and new publisher Lori Burgess are in charge. “It appears that with a new editor and publisher, THR is adopting tabloid-like behavior”. According to my own reporting, McPherson worked at Disney/ABC without any sexual harrassment-related complaints brought to the company’s attention until 2010. This year, however, one sexual harassment complaint was made by a woman against McPherson, and HR conducted an investigation. My sourcing indicates that McPherson’s resignation was voluntary and unrelated to the probe:







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Steve McPherson Hires Pit Bull Marty Singer

I hear that Steve McPherson, who resigned as ABC Entertainment Group president this week, has asked pit bull litigator Marty Singer to specifically target The Hollywood Reporter. If you haven’t noticed, the front page of THR is increasingly resembling TMZ as a Hollywood scandal sheet now that former US magazine editor Janice Min has taken over. Today, Singer issued this statement; “Steve McPherson is not going to sit back idly regarding the false & defamatory stories fueled by unknown and anonymous sources that are now appearing in the media since his resignation from ABC. He has retained Martin Singer and Lavely & Singer to deal with these defamatory stories.”

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TOLDJA! Peter Jackson Casting ‘Hobbit’

The Hollywood Reporter has done it again. So I’m embarrassed for the trade paper and any media outlet that stoops to content theft and won’t properly credit Deadline. peter_jackson_hobbit2Back on June 25th, Mike Fleming posted within his scoop about Peter Jackson negotiating to direct both Hobbit films that “he, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens scheduled a trip to London the week of July 4, followed by a trip to Los Angeles the following week. They will meet the most impressive actors who’ve been put on tape by casting directors.” So imagine vacationing Mike’s surprise to get an email alert today from THR claiming an exclusive that “director Peter Jackson is in Los Angeles this week quietly meeting with actors. The casting trip, which also included stops in New York and the U.K…” What makes this even worse is that the THR story doesn’t add one new fact. Nor have I forgotten that, well after Mike posted his initial scoop about Jackson directing the Hobbit films, THR tried to claim that as an exclusive, too.

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TOLDJA! Tutor Confirms David Bergstein Won’t Have Role In New Miramax

Back on July 7th and again on July 8th, I was first to report that the notorious film financier David Bergstein “was being pushed aside” and would have no role in Miramax once it was purchased from Disney by construction magnate Ron Tutor and Santa Monica-based Colony Capital. (I wrote: “As for the notorious film financier David Bergstein, I’ve learned his role is over as soon as the deal is finished. ‘He gets paid for packaging the deal and consulting on the transaction. Then that’s it,’ an insider tells me.”) On Sunday, Tutor confirmed my reporting in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. But I’m bewildered why the trade tried to claim he “unleashed a bombshell” that there will be no role in Miramax for his pal Bergstein. How utterly classless of The Hollywood Reporter — and Alex Ben Block, who knows better – not to give Deadline credit. Then again, THR and Variety, too, steal so much content from Deadline without credit on an almost daily basis, it’s clear the trades have no shame anymore.

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Do You Think This Could Be The Reason?

Today, The Hollywood Reporter does an AMPTP-friendly story about how Hollywood’s big-name movie stars aren’t pulling in the money they once did at the box office. What the trade fails to point out in its chart is that all but one of the actors are CAA clients. The one who’s not is Leo DiCaprio, who continues to have no agency representation. And, to be fair, Vince Vaughn only just went to CAA from United Talent. But the rest — Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell — are all part of CAA’s very crowded A-list stable. And notice how Tom Cruise isn’t even mentioned. Meanwhile, explain to me how the moguls are gonna sell movies here and abroad if they keep trying hard during these SAG talks to devalue actors?

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THR Rearranges Deck Chairs On Titanic

So if you’re one of the 10 readers of The Hollywood Reporter left in this town, then you may have noticed today’s rebrand. Yes, it looks cleaner and sharper. But ultimately it’s what’s inside the trade paper that counts. “It all has a fresh-coat-of-paint-on-the-Titanic vibe to me,” one THR source tells me. “I think the money could have been far better spent keeping bodies in the building that are now sorely, desperately needed.”

Insiders tell me that today’s THR.com launch was supposed to “correct” the 2006 site redesign that was perceived as “botched” mostly by the newsroom and the new executives. (Feedback from actual readers and metrics then were generally good.) Most of the inside-the-trade complaints concerned navigation issues. The newsroom thought breaking news was buried or hard to find. The business development side wanted a permanent home for its advertorial issues to grow consumer traffic. And advertising wanted more prominent video to sell pre-rolls. So does the new site solve any of these?

Insiders aren’t sure what the new design accomplishes and they doubt if anybody there will be happy. The new site has fewer news positions and more flash modules, no features landing page at all, and still no pre-rolls on the videos a year after the video launch. Also gone is the iconic logo while there’s no RSS. I’m told that video windfall promises were supposed to pay for this new design so the continued lack of it makes … Read More »

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