UPDATE #2: Abramson already off the Times masthead. The New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. stunned the newsroom this afternoon with the announcement that Executive Editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to lead the paper of record, is being replaced by Managing Editor Dean Baquet. By 5 P.M. New York time, the Times masthead already had been updated to reflect the change. Baquet becomes the first African-American to lead the Times. No specific reason was given for the abrupt move, but grumblings about Abramson’s management style, which many staffers complained was aloof and dismissive, as well as whispers about her run-ins with the paper’s business-side chief, Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson, had been circulating among the chatterati for months.
According to The Times, Sulzberger told senior editors in a gathering at a conference room Wednesday afternoon and then addressed the full newsroom around 2:30 p.m. EDT. All he said after the official announcement, according to reporters who were there, was that “we had an issue with management in the newsroom.” I guess so. One insider with knowledge of the last-minute negotiations said that Abramson was adamant about not saying she was leaving “to pursue other options.”
A one-time investigative reporter and D.C. bureau chief at the paper, Abramson won the top job in 2011. Her official comment suggested that she is leaving the paper completely. “I’ve loved my run at The Times,” she said in a … Read More »
Everyone in the nexus of the world where consumer electronics and media meet seems to have an opinion about this following the announcement on Monday that The Times’ gadget critic is headed to Yahoo to create a splashy new consumer tech site. Isn’t it risky for David Pogue to leave the newspaper that made him a star for a Web organization that has virtually no presence on the beat? There’s no way to definitively answer that just yet, of course. But that didn’t stop the researchers at Kontera — a firm that measures Web content and social media impressions — from taking a stab. And their data show that it’s probably worth the gamble. “Yahoo might be a better platform for him to build his personal brand,” says Ammiel Kamon, EVP of Marketing and Activation Products. Possibly due to the newspaper’s online pay wall “Yahoo is seen a lot more than The Times. It’s quoted more and re-tweeted more.” Yahoo generated more than twice as many Web comments about telecom and consumer electronics matters than The Times did from July 22 to October 13, Kontera found. And in a look at the buzz generated by four top tech critics during the period, Pogue came in third with 23% of the comments. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg came in first with 31% closely followed by USA Today’s Ed Baig with 30%, while independent writer John Gruber … Read More »
It wasn’t a printing error, or sabotage by the Koch brothers, that left pages 9 and 10 largely blank in the Gray Lady this morning. It was part of Fox‘s marketing campaign for its upcoming film The Book Thief. The New York Times says that this is the first time it has run “two consecutive, seemingly blank, back-to-back pages in the A (Main News) section.” The qualifier “seemingly” is appropriate because the pages have the paper’s logo, the date and page number — and at the bottom of the second page Fox included the URL for the film’s website, wordsarelife.com. The Times’ advertising standards team had to approve Fox’s concept to promote the film, which opens November 15, the paper says. “The underlying message of the advertising campaign, ‘imagine a world without words,’ echoes the film’s narrative, which follows a young girl in WWII Nazi Germany who begins to steal books from war-torn areas and share them with others,” according to The Times. My colleague Pete Hammond says that The Book Thief could become an under-the-radar Oscar contender. Fox hired publicity firm 42West to aid the cause. The film is based on Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel and features Geoffrey Rush — and music from five-time Oscar winner John Williams.
This is a coup for Yahoo. David Pogue has spent 13 years critiquing gadgets for the Gray Lady, becoming one of its brand-name writers. In the process he also has become a familiar presence on CBS Sunday Morning and the host of PBS’ NOVA ScienceNow. Yahoo says that he will now “lead a major expansion of consumer tech coverage on Yahoo and will publish columns, blog posts, video stories and more, starting later this year.” CEO Marissa Mayer weighed in, saying that her company is “in a unique position to bring to life great editorial about the technology consumers are using every day.” Pogue says in a blog post that in addition to his writing he’ll continue “making my goofy videos. But my team and I have much bigger plans, too, for all kinds of online and real-world creations.” While he characterizes Yahoo as an “underdog,” he now believes that the company is “young, revitalized, aggressive — and, under Marissa Mayer’s leadership, razor-focused, for the first time in years….She’s overseen brilliant overhauls of several Yahoo sites and apps, and had the courage to shut down the derelict ones.” The New York Times circulated an internal memo that wishes him well in his new gig. Read More »
UPDATE, 10:18 AM: News junkies can relax. The New York Times is back up on the Web after what it says was “a server issue” that knocked out the news and corporate sites for about two hours. During the outage the paper turned to Facebook to post its coverage of the state of emergency in Egypt. Fox Business says that it’s told that the site was hit by a cyber attack and that officials have been “huddling with outside security professionals to assess the threat.”
PREVIOUS, 8:42 AM: The news and corporate sites — but not the mobile application — are off and Fox Business says that a source tells it that the paper is “under cyber attack.” But the Times says that the outage “is the result of an internal issue, which we expect to be resolved soon.” One Times employee tweets that “we’re hearing that a malfunctioning system patch somehow brought down the site and email.” New York Times Digital was the No. 34 top Web property in June with 30.6M unique visitors, comScore says.
Here’s the latest milestone in the story of newspapers’ decline in the digital age. The Times paid $1.1B for the Boston daily n 1993 — the highest price ever for a U.S. newspaper. Today it announced that it has agreed to sell its New England Media Group, which includes the Boston Globe, to Fenway Sports Group for $70M. John Henry is the principal owner of Fenway Sports, but the chairman is Tom Werner who co-founded The Carsey-Werner Company and was executive producer of TV hits including The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock From The Sun, and That 70s Show. In addition to the Globe, the company is picking up BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Telegram.com, GlobeDirect (a direct mail marketing company), and a 49% stake in Metro Boston. Times CEO Mark Thompson says that the sale will enable him to “sharpen our company focus on and investments in The New York Times brand and its journalism.” The Times put the Boston-area properties up for sale in February, the last part of its ongoing effort to shed non-core assets. Henry’s Fenway Sports Group also owns Fenway Park, 80% of the New England Sports Network, 50% of NASCAR team Rousch Fenway Racing, and English Premier League’s soccer team Liverpool F.C.
ESPN has made its second high-profile signing in a week, and it’s someone well known to Hollywood political circles. The New York Times announced online tonight that its political number cruncher Nate Silver is heading to the sports giant and taking his FiveThirtyEight crystal ball column with him. Silver began his career by compiling spreadsheets of baseball statistics before he became the best known 2012 national election prognosticator and the most accurate. The NYT said that, in political years, he will have a role at ABC News, which is also owned by Disney. Most of the statisticians had Mitt Romney beating President Obama in the electoral college count for months prior to the election, but Silver called the contest correctly. (Said the president: “Nate Silver completely nailed it. The guy’s amazing.”) Prior to the 2008 election, Silver gained recognition for developing an algorithm known as PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), which was used to predict players’ future performance.
The news of Silver’s defection comes just days after the ESPN re-signed Keith Olbermann to do a late-night show on ESPN2 and less than a month before News Corp launches its rival sports network Fox Sports 1. The NYT said Silver’s 3-year contract was set to expire in late August, “and his departure will most likely be interpreted … Read More »
Hacking attempts on media organizations have ramped up in recent months with attacks on the AP, The Guardian, CBS News accounts, The Onion, and E! Online. On Friday, The Financial Times‘ Tech Blog and Twitter accounts were hacked into, the organization reported. “Various FT blogs and social media accounts have been compromised by hackers and we are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” FT later tweeted. Earlier in the week, The New York Times website experienced traffic slowdowns that limited access to some users because of online attacks not attributed to a specific group.
It’s not getting much traction on air, so perhaps the Jeff Zucker-run CNN can find it in print. Unlike AMC’s full-page New York Times ad last week boasting about its The Walking Dead ratings, CNN’s “reintroduce ourselves” ad had no ratings results to brag about and no typos. Instead, it’s full of CNN stars like Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour as well as the new gang of Jake Tapper; morning hosts-to-be Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan; former ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols, who Zucker hired just a couple of days after formally taking over in late January; and badboy chef Anthony Bourdain, whose show debuts Sunday. What is odd about the ad, besides its feeling of desperation, is who isn’t in it. There’s no Candy Crowley, no John King and no lead congressional correspondent Dana Bash. And the ad, which also is running in the New York Post, Ad Week and Advertising Age, makes no mention of Super-Size Me director Morgan Spurlock, who was announced last August as the host of the new documentary series Inside Man. Don’t they not need to be reintroduced, or are they being shown the door like Soledad O’Brien, Roland Martin and James Carville? Stay tuned.
Related: CNN’s ‘Crossfire’ Returning In June; Cancelled In 2005
UPDATE, 3 PM: How did AMC get wrong what networks air The Voice and Modern Family in its full-page The Walking Dead ad that ran in today’s New York Times? It was the undead’s fault, says the network. “It appears our fact checking department was overrun by zombies. We have the utmost respect for these shows and networks,” AMC said in a statement today. What’s the Times excuse?
PREVIOUSLY, 11:54 AM: With record-breaking ratings, AMC has a lot to brag about when it comes to The Walking Dead. After hitting a series high with the show’s March 31 Season 3 finale, the network took out a full-page ad in today’s New York Times to do just that. However, if you are going to brag about beating your rivals’ top shows you might want to get your competitors right. The color ad on page B5 of today’s Times has The Voice on ABC and Modern Family on Fox. Which might be news to the people at the struggling NBC, who have bet the ratings farm on The Voice turning things around. It also is a heads up to ABC who actually air Modern Family on Wednesday nights. Don’t they have anyone fact-checking things at AMC or the New York Times?
No word yet on how entertainment coverage will be affected. But The New York Times said today it will offer 30 voluntary buyouts to non-union newsroom managers. It may also lay off journalists if not enough accept the severance package. The reason cited is the volatile advertising climate. Editor Jill Abramson wrote to staff that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced. There were previous buyouts at the paper in 2008 and 2011. The NYT recently negotiated with its unionized staff. Here’s what NYT publisher Arthur ‘Pinch’ Sulzberger wrote to staff: Read More »
Formerly The New York Times Publisher and Chief Executive, the media legend Arthur Ochs Sulzberger known as “Punch” who guided the newspaper and parent company through 34 years of tumultuous change, died today at his home in Southampton, Long Island, after a long illness. He was 86. His death was announced by his family whose primary publication notes how Sulzberger’s leadership spanned “from the heyday of postwar America to the twilight of the 20th century, from the era of hot lead and Linotype machines to the birth of the digital world.” Certainly the newspaper and parent company has never been the same since he stepped down in 1992. Now run by his son Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr (aka “Pinch”), the NYT has posted online a superb obituary that is part tribute and part memoir. So Deadline is sending you there.
Another salvo was fired today in the war of words between the Newspaper Guild of New York and The New York Times. The two are in negotiations over digital and print agreements that expired in March 2011. Approximately 1,000 NYT employees are covered by the print contract and 100 by the digital contact. Earlier this week, the Guild claimed that in suddenly seeking two deals and not one unified agreement, NYT management is trying to create an impasse in the talks so it can force its “last, best” offer on employees. Yesterday, the NYT said it does want a single contractm but it can’t pursue one if the Guild won’t, as the NYT claims, “explicitly commit to negotiate a single contract.” Today the Guild explained its position: Read More »
Most of the critics were very positive about Marvel’s The Avengers opening at midnight tonight — which is why Samuel L. Jackson (aka Nick Fury) is so furious with The New York Times‘ negative review. The actor let his 825,315 followers on Twitter today know it. “#Avengers fans, NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let’s help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!”. The NYT’s AO Scott in his review of the Joss Whedon-directed Disney film said, “The Avengersis hardly worth raging about, its failures are significant and dispiriting.” Scott also called Jackson’s role as the head of superspy agency S.H.I.E.L.D “more master of ceremonies than mission commander” in his review. Read More »
Something always seems to be a little weird when Netflix announces big news about itself — and today’s unveiling of its streaming deal with DreamWorks Animation is no exception. The news appeared to have been handed to The New York Times; it had the first story as well as interviews with executives from both companies. But that’s not the problem: What’s curious is why The Times felt confident enough to say that unnamed “analysts estimate (the deal) is worth $30 million per picture to DreamWorks.” Although there were no details to support that estimate, it quickly became perceived as a fact. For example, a Reuters story stated that the deal is “worth $30 million per picture to DreamWorks over a number of years.” If that’s true, then it’s a big deal; HBO currently pays the studio about $20M per picture. If the $30M figure for the Netflix deal is accurate, then Caris & Co analyst David Miller says his 2013 earnings estimate for DreamWorks “would therefore improve from $1.58 (per share) to $1.70.”
OK, so is it true? The companies don’t say: Many hours after the Times story ran, Netflix and DreamWorks jointly filed a press release that said “financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.” But some analysts find the $30M figure hard to believe. Susquehana Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov writes this morning that “we would be surprised if the terms for (DreamWorks Animation) are more favorable than those of their current deal with HBO. We think the change in pay TV partners was due to HBO shifting away from animation and not because (Netflix) offered significantly superior terms.” Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible also says that “it appears (DreamWorks) was kicked out of HBO and that (Netflix) was the buyer of last resort.” Read More »
Media stocks suffered along with just about everyone else today after the Federal Reserve stirred recession fears by reporting “significant downside risks to the economic outlook” — and World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned that global economies are in a “danger zone.” The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell 3.9%, slightly more than the 3.5% drop in the DJ Industrial Average. Companies most exposed to advertising were hard hit. CBS led the pack among the industry’s Big Guns with shares down 7.2%. It was followed by Viacom (-6.6%), Disney (-5.5%), Comcast (-3.8%), Time Warner (-3.6%), News Corp (-3.3%), and Sony (-2.7%). Others falling at least 7% include Nielsen and Sirius XM. Those dropping at least 6% include Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, The New York Times, Coinstar, IMAX, and Cumulus Media. Even in the battered market, a few media companies were up on the day including Live Nation (+2.1%), Barnes & Noble (+3.1%), Scholastic (+6.8%) and Westwood One (+20.8%).
UPDATE 4:10 PM: The markets couldn’t sustain an early afternoon rally amid concerns that France might lose its AAA debt rating and that Spain or Italy might default on payments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.6% while the S&P 500 dropped 4.4% and NASDAQ was down 4.1%. But media companies were mixed, with some showing big improvements from mid-day. Disney remained the hardest hit of the Big Guns with shares falling 9.1%. It was followed by Sony (-5.7%), CBS (-5.4%), News Corp (-4.7%), Time Warner (-4.6%), Comcast (-4.5%), and Viacom (-0.3%). Among other media companies, Crown Media, Westwood One, and E.W. Scripps fell at least 10%. Entercom, The New York Times, and Gannett were off at least 9%. And Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, AOL, and LIN TV were down at least 8%. Some companies were up including Cinedigm (+8.7%), National CineMedia (+4.3%), New Frontier Media (+2.7%), DreamWorks Animation (+2%), Lionsgate (+1.8%), Pandora Media (+0.6%), and Coinstar (+0.1%).
PREVIOUS, 9:00 AM: Here we go again. Stock markets at mid-day have given up just about all of yesterday’s gains following the Fed’s pledge to keep interest rates low — and media companies are being hammered. The Dow Jones U.S. media index is -4.7% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is -4.1%. Similarly the S&P media index is off 5.5% while the S&P 500 is -3.8% and NASDAQ’s media shares are -4.8 vs. the overall exchange which is -3.3%. Here’s how industry giants are faring at mid-day: Disney (-10.7%), CBS … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal and Management 360 have partnered with financier/producer Megan Ellison to option The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, an article about WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in The New York Times Magazine written by the newspaper’s executive editor Bill Keller. Ellison, an exec producer of True Grit, will finance the film through her Annapurna Pictures and she, Boal and Management 360 will produce. Boal might write the film, but that will depend on if he has time. In addition to the Kathryn Bigelow-directed Triple Frontier with Tom Hanks, Boal is collaborating with Bigelow on a drama that might go sooner, about a secret Middle East mission movie. If Boal is going to write the Assange script, he will have to do it quickly.
His is just the latest in a growing number of Julian Assange/WikiLeaks movies that should continue to swell as more books about the controversial figure get published. I’ve heard DreamWorks is circling Inside WikiLeaks, a book that will be released February 15. It is written by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Assange’s number 2 at WikiLeaks who defected because he wanted WikiLeaks to apply journalistic discretion in the dispersal of secret government documents while Assange wanted to release as many as he could get his hands on.
There is also the $1.5 million memoir by Assange. Movie/TV rights will be handled by CAA for lit agency … Read More »