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UPDATE: New Yorker Backs Off Pay-Gap Charge In Firing of NYT Editor Jill Abramson

By | Sunday May 18, 2014 @ 5:57pm PDT

UPDATED, 5:57 PM: In round three of his coverage of l’affair Abramson, New Yorker media reporter Ken Auletta pulled back from his claim that the first female executive editor of the New York Times was ousted by publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. after raising issues about getting lower compensation than her predecessor.  In a shocking post on Sunday evening at newyorker.com, Auletta wrote that, according to “extremely well-informed sources at the paper” — presumably Sulzberger himself or his proxy — “Abramson was, essentially, fired for cause, for lying to Sulzberger…” The linchpin issue, Auletta reports, was Abramson’s courtship of Janine Gibson, editor of the American edition of the Guardian newspaper, to run the Times’s digital operations.

Nytimes_hqIt’s been widely reported that Abramson had the support of both Sulzberger and chief financial officer Mark Thompson, and that the deal was all but done to bring Gibson — a powerhouse journalist who had been chiefly responsible for the Edward Snowden revelations of the inner workings of the National Security agency — to the Times masthead at a level parallel to her managing editor, Dean Baquet. However, Auletta writes, that was with the “assurance she had squared Gibson’s rank and arrival with Baquet when, in fact, she had not. The sources say she misled Sulzberger when she said, in person and by e-mail, that she had consulted with Baquet about the offer to Gibson and had worked it all out in detail with him.” Gibson told Auletta  that “Jill was explicit in our initial conversation when she told me, ‘The first thing I have to do is talk to Dean.’ I’m mortified that these discussions are in public and feel very strongly that Jill should not have been hung out to dry when she behaved honorably and was trying to do what she thought was best for the New York Times.” Read More »

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‘American Journalism Review’ Wins John M. Higgins Award For Enterprise Reporting

By | Wednesday June 5, 2013 @ 2:02pm PDT

Senior contributing writer Jodi Enda’s  in-depth examination of strategies newsrooms use to try to stay solvent won the prestigious prize today at Syracuse University’s Mirror Awards luncheon — an annual affair that attracts New York’s media elite. The event paid off for the school this year: The family of Dick Clark, an alum who won the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, presented Syracuse with $5M for a state-of-the-art broadcast education facility that will open next year and be named after the American Bandstand host. The school presented its Fred M. Dressler Leadership Award To Disney/ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney and I-3 innovation award to Fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver. For traditional/legacy media the winners were: Ken Auletta, best single article, for a piece in The New Yorker about The Times of India. (This is his fourth win in the seven years since the awards were introduced.) Syed Irfan Ashraf of Pakistan’s Dawn.com won for best commentary.  In digital media, Joe Eskenazi of SF Weekly won best single article and Poynter Institute’s Craig Silverman took best commentary. For video or audio, the Missouri Press Association’s Doug Crews, Beth Pike, Stephen Hudnell and Scott Charton won best single story. And best profile in either digital or legacy media went to Gawker’s Adrian Chen.

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‘New Yorker’ Writer Wins First John M. Higgins Prize For Enterprise Reporting

By | Wednesday June 13, 2012 @ 12:50pm PDT

The author of an in-depth exploration into the events that led to the 2003 toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad won the first John M. Higgins award for enterprise reporting at today’s Mirror Awards reception in New York. Peter Maass, who wrote the piece for The New Yorker with support from Pro Publica, called for non-profits and others to support serious journalism and “make more of these flowers bloom.” For traditional/legacy media, other winners of the awards sponsored by Syracuse University’s Newhouse School were: Anna Holmes, who took Best Commentary for her work in The New York Times and The Washington Post; The New Yorker‘s Ken Auletta, who won Best Profile for his look at Jill Abramson’s rise to executive editor of The New York Times; and Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, who had the Best Single Article for an in-depth look at Apple. For digital media: Capital New York‘s Joe Pompeo won Best Profile for an examination of The Huffington Post; Rhonda Roland Shearer and Malik Ayub Sumbal of iMediaEthics won Best Single Article for their exploration of photojournalism’s double standards for foreign victims; and Rebecca Traister took Best Commentary for her work at Salon and The New York Times Magazine. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos presented the Impact, Innovation and Influence Award to Knight Foundation CEO Alberto Ibarguen. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was master of ceremonies.

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Focus Features Options New Yorker Article ‘The Yankee Comandante;’ George Clooney Directing

By | Wednesday June 6, 2012 @ 5:56pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features is making a rights deal for David Grann’s massive article in the May 28 issue of The New Yorker, The Yankee Commandante, with George Clooney attached to direct. He will produce with his Smokehouse partner Grant Heslov.

The article is about William Alexander Morgan, an American who helped Castro and the Cuban rebels overthrow Fulgencio Batista. He’d reached the status of Comandante, the sole foreigner other than Argentinian Che Guevara to be so highly regarded. Shortly after, Morgan — a shadowy man whose motives for being there were subject to suspicion — was imprisoned and facing a firing squad, charged with working for U.S. intelligence. At the same time, his exploits as a rebel soldier led J. Edgar Hoover and everyone else scrambling to sort out his motives and who he was working for. Read More »

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So What If David Denby Broke Sony/Scott Rudin’s ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Embargo? Fuck It!

Embargoes are dumbass, and even more so when they involve matters of no consequence like showbiz. And still more so when the movie review at issue was positive like David Denby’s critique of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in The New Yorker. In my opinion, no film reviewer should ever agree to embargoes because doing what the studios want is a slippery slope. It’s just a short hop to becoming part of Hollywood’s publicity machine. In this case, producer Scott Rudin is the biggest baby on the planet. (Remember how, when The Social Network began losing to The King’s Speech last awards season, he stopped attending every honoring ceremony including the Oscars? No class.) And Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Amy Pascal on the phone just now told me the studio has been “wrestling” with this since Friday night. Yet she couldn’t explain why these embargoes are even necessary or this villification of Denby, who happens to be my favorite film critic, is even warranted. I asked if the review is good. She answered that she’d heard it was. So what’s the problem? Heaven help us when the studios finally succeed in controlling all media… Here’s the letter which Sony sent out at 2 AM:

Dear Colleague,

All who attended screenings of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo agreed in writing to withhold reviews until closer to the date of the film’s worldwide release

Read More »

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Paramount, Indian Paintbrush And Film Rites Win Auction For David Grann’s ‘A Murder Foretold’

By | Thursday April 7, 2011 @ 3:32pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount and Indian Paintbrush won a heated auction for screen rights on A Murder Foretold, a lengthy article in the April 4 issue of The New Yorker by David Grann about a series of high-level murders in Guatemala. It takes place in a country devastated by killings routinely perpetrated by everyone from secret police to drug dealers who acted with impunity. In that backdrop, a wealthy businessman who’d watched his wife-to-be get assassinated along with her father, stirred up the entire country — from the grave. After he too was gunned down while riding his bicycle, Rodrigo Rosenberg finally did something that snapped the country to do something about the rampant murders that often involved corrupt government officials. At his funeral, he had an intermediary disperse copies of a videocassette he had recorded himself. In stunning fashion, he implicated the president, his wife, and other close aides in his killing. It set off a maelstrom that led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, who followed a trail of clues to solve the crime that led to a most shocking conclusion. I won’t reveal it here, but you can read the article. The end result: the murder provided the first real impetus for a crackdown on violence in Guatemala. Read More »

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‘Hurt Locker’s Mark Boal At Center Of WikiLeaks Film Deal As Other Julian Assange Movies Mobilize

Mike Fleming

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 »

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