THE INDUSTRY 12-12-2013
China withholds visas for NYT, Bloomberg reporters
Chinese authorities have been
withholding residence visas for reporters working for The New York Times and
Bloomberg in apparent retaliation for the agencies' investigative stories on
wealth accumulated by leaders' families.
If authorities do not soon start
approving renewals for visas due to expire by the end of the year, it would
effectively shut down or significantly curtail the two organizations'
newsgathering operations in the country.
The Foreign Correspondents Club
of China said in an emailed statement to members that none of the
correspondents working for The Times and Bloomberg in China have been able to
renew their residence visas for next year.
On a recent trip to Beijing, U.S.
Vice President Joe Biden publicly criticized how U.S. journalists were being
treated by China’s government.
Newsweek to start printing again next year
Paper copies of Newsweek will
again roll off the presses starting next year.
Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco says
the news magazine's owners, IBT Media, want to "hit the reset button"
and move to a business model where a weekly print magazine would be mainly
supported by subscription fees instead of advertising.
Impoco said in an interview that
officials haven't decided how much the magazine will cost, but it's expected to
be less than $10 per issue.
Newsweek had been struggling for
years when The Washington Post Co. sold it for $1 in 2010 to stereo equipment
magnate Sidney Harman, who died the following year. Before he died, Harman
placed Newsweek into a joint venture with IAC/InterActiveCorp's The Daily Beast
website, a move intended to help widen its online audience.
Newsweek ceased print publication
at the end of 2012.
The online magazine was sold to
IBT, which owns online publications including International Business Times,
Medical Daily and Latin Times, in August for an undisclosed sum.
Study: Erratic TV violence ratings fail parents
Violent dramas on the broadcast
networks carry milder parental cautions than cable shows like "The Walking
Dead" but can equal them in graphic gore, a failure of the TV ratings
system, a new study found.
Scenes of stabbings, shootings,
rape, decapitation and mutilation invariably received a TV-14 "parents
strongly cautioned" rating on network TV, according to the Parents
Television Council study.
But similar fare on cable
typically was given the most stringent label, TV-MA for mature audiences only,
researchers for the media watchdog group found.
"There are zero-point-zero
series rated TV-MA on broadcast," said the media watchdog council
President Tim Winter, despite programs that are awash in violent scenes.
It is vital to examine the
media’s effect on children and real-world violence, Winter said, adding that he
hopes his nonpartisan group's findings are part of a wide-ranging search for
8 plead not guilty to newspaper reader burglaries
Eight people have pleaded not
guilty to burglarizing the homes of vacationing Los Angeles Times subscribers.
The eight entered pleas to 39
charges of burglary, receiving stolen property and conspiracy.
They remain jailed. Each faces 20
years or more in state prison if convicted.
Prosecutors contend that an
office-machine repairman stole lists of Times subscribers who'd placed vacation
holds on their subscriptions, passing them to burglars who hit at least 25
Owners weigh changes to Ledger, sister operations
The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.,
its online business and its sister publications need to find ways to work together
more effectively, the Ledger's publisher said.
Publisher Richard Vezza said in
an interview with the paper (http://bit.ly/18bTeyd ) that "clearly we
need to find a different direction" as the Ledger faces millions in losses
again this year.
"We've got a big daily
newspaper, some smaller dailies and several weeklies and an online
company," he said. "Right now there's channel conflict between them.
How do we work together? How do we do better?"
The state's largest newspaper is
owned by Advance Publications, which also owns NJ.com, the online presence of
the Advance papers in New Jersey, as well as The Jersey Journal, The Times of
Trenton, the South Jersey Times and seven weeklies.
Owner looks to sell Providence Journal in RI
The Providence Journal, Rhode
Island's largest newspaper, is for sale, according to A.H. Belo Corp.
The Dallas-based company said it
has hired an investment bank to seek potential buyers. Belo, which purchased
The Journal in 1996, recently sold The Press-Enterprise, based in Riverside,
Calif. The company also owns The Dallas Morning News.
In a statement announcing the
company's move, Belo CEO Jim Moroney said The Journal has an unmatched
commitment to the citizens of the state.
"However, with A. H. Belo's
focus on investing and growing in Dallas, it makes sense to explore this
opportunity," he said.
Belo says it won't sell the paper
if it cannot find an appropriate buyer.
THE INDUSTRY 12-5-2013
Arias fades from view as case veiled in secrecy
For months, Jodi Arias was a television staple, every minute of her murder trial broadcast live while cable network commentators railed nightly about the case. The now-convicted murderer took to the spotlight in celebrity style and embraced the attention at every turn as she spent weeks on the witness stand and did a series of media interviews.
But Arias has vanished from view since her trial ended in May, and the judge has done a complete about-face. She has shut the media and public out of nearly every hearing in the case and drawn complaints from constitutional lawyers that she has gone too far.
"The trial court has gone from transparency to blackout and bewilderment," said attorney David Bodney, who represents several media outlets, including The Arizona Republic, fighting for transparency. "There have been repeated flagrant violations of the public's constitutional right to attend proceedings."
Arias was convicted of murder in May, but the jury couldn't reach a verdict on her sentence. Prosecutors are now pursuing a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to get the death penalty. No date for a new trial has been set.
Arias, 33, admitted she killed her boyfriend in 2008 at his suburban Phoenix home but claimed it was self-defense. Travis Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, had his throat slit and was shot in the forehead in what prosecutors argued was a jealous rage.
Minnesota sex offender facilities ban local newspapers
Sex offenders in Minnesota's treatment facilities in St. Peter and Moose Lake are specifically barred from ordering or reading newspapers that cover those communities.
The director of the Minnesota Sex Offender programs said the policy protects staff members, The Free Press of Mankato reported (http://bit.ly/1cQLzTr ). Nancy Johnston said they don't want offenders having access to personal information about facility employees or their families.
The ban has been in place since 2007 and was updated in August to specify three newspapers: The Free Press, the St. Peter Herald and the Moose Lake Star Gazette. The Free Press inquired about the policy after a Moose Lake inmate mailed the newspaper a copy of the policy with a letter of complaint.
Johnston said local newspapers could also include maps that could aid escape attempts. She said offenders can subscribe to any other newspapers they want.
Laramie sues newspaper over mayor's records
The Laramie (Wyo.) Boomerang is awaiting word from a judge whether it should have access to the resume of a former mayor.
The newspaper reports that the city is suing the newspaper to block the paper's access to the resume of former Mayor Jodi Guerin (http://goo.gl/kWqtkV ).
Guerin is now the city's recreation manager. She's also co-owner of Coal Creek Coffee Co.
The city filed suit in August, requesting declaratory judgment to consider Guerin's applications materials exempt from public disclosure.
Mississippi newspaper seeks contempt order in records dispute
State Auditor Stacey Pickering says his hands are tied by a federal subpoena that prevents his releasing documents seized from state Department of Marine Resources to a Gulf Coast newspaper.
The Sun Herald has asked a judge to hold Pickering and his office in civil contempt of court for failing to turn over records it has sought. The newspaper sued Pickering for access to records that his office had seized from the MDMR as part of an ongoing state and federal investigation of the agency. Harrison County Chancery Judge Jennifer Schloegel ruled last month that the records are public, but she didn't immediately act on the newspaper's request for a contempt order.
In a response filed recently to the newspaper's contempt motion, Pickering's lawyers said the auditor's office has to abide by the federal grand jury subpoena.
"Obviously, the United States believes that releasing the subject records would prejudice the prosecution of the indictment involving the Department of Marine Resources for which those records were sought," Jackson attorney John G. Corlew writes in court documents.
Developer buys Washington Post building for $159 million
The longtime headquarters building of The Washington Post is being sold to a real estate development company for $159 million.
Graham Holdings Co. is the former parent of The Washington Post newspaper. The company announced a deal to sell the downtown Washington building to Carr Properties. The sale is expected to close at the end of March 2014.
Graham Holdings spokeswoman Rima Calderon says the newspaper will continue to lease space in the building at least until September 2015. The newspaper is now owned by Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos and will be looking for a new home.
The newly renamed Graham Holdings is the former Washington Post Co. owned by Donald Graham. It now owns education and media businesses, including Kaplan education services and TV broadcasting and cable outlets.
GateHouse Media emerges from bankruptcy protection
GateHouse Media Inc. has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a pre-packaged debt-restructuring deal.
The Fairport, N.Y.-based company owns more than 400 publications across the U.S.It filed for bankruptcy protection two months ago in Delaware as part of an effort to wipe out $1.2 billion in debt that was set to come due in 2014.
The restructured publisher emerged with a new owner, New Media Investment Group Inc., which also owns Local Media Group.
GateHouse CEO Michael Reed says in a statement that the company's business operations remain intact and are poised to grow.
GateHouse canceled secured creditors' debt. Those creditors are getting a 40 percent cash distribution or shares in New Media.
Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, Mass., up for sale
The new owner of the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., says he's putting the newspaper up for sale.
Principal Boston Red Sox owner John Henry purchased the paper last month when he acquired the New England Media Group from The New York Times Co. _ a $70 million deal that included The Boston Globe.
Henry has promised to help bolster the Globe's finances, but had said little about his ownership of the Worcester paper.
Henry said hoped to find someone in the Worcester area to take ownership of the 147-year-old company.
"My preference is to a local owner, yes," he told those gathered in the paper's newsroom.
The Times Co. had purchased the Telegram & Gazette for $295 million in 2000.
Katie Couric to anchor Yahoo's video news coverage
Katie Couric is joining Yahoo to anchor an expansion of the Internet company's video news coverage in a move that she hopes will help persuade other broadcast TV veterans to make the transition into online programming.
The announcement confirmed recent published reports that Couric is hoping to attract more viewers on the Internet after spending the past 22 years working as a talk-show host and news anchor at NBC, CBS and ABC.
"I am particularly excited about hopefully attracting other people to this platform and venture," Couric said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We are in a major, transformative time in terms of media in this country."
Couric's hiring is the latest coup for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer as she brings in well-known journalists in an effort to create compelling content that will attract more people to the company's online services. In the past month, Yahoo has also lured away technology columnist David Pogue and political reporter Matt Bai from The New York Times.
Couric, 56, will continue to host her daytime talk show, "Katie," on ABC even after she becomes Yahoo's "global anchor" beginning early next year.
CBS: Lara Logan, producer ordered to take leave
CBS ordered "60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan and her producer to take a leave of absence following a critical internal review of their handling of the show's October story on the Benghazi raid, based on a report on a supposed witness whose story can't be verified.
The review, by CBS News executive Al Ortiz and obtained by The Associated Press, said the "60 Minutes" team should have done a better job vetting the story that featured a security contractor who said he was at the U.S. mission in Libya the night it was attacked last year.
Questions were quickly raised about whether the man was lying _ something "60 Minutes" should have better checked out before airing the story, the report said.The report also said Logan should not have done the story in the first place after making a speech in Chicago a year ago claiming that it was a lie that America's military had tamed al-Qaida.
Industry News 11/21/13
Nancy Meyer named
publisher of Hartford Courant
Tribune Co. has appointed Nancy Meyer as publisher
of The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.
Meyer has been serving as the chief revenue officer
for CT1 Media, the umbrella company for the Courant and Tribune's two Hartford
She replaces Rich Graziano, who was named president
and general manager of Tribune's television station in New York City, WPIX-TV.
Graziano will continue to oversee the Hartford
stations WTIC-TV and WCCT-TV until a new general manager is appointed.
Tribune Co. said Meyer's appointment is effective
She joined the Courant in 2006 and worked previously
in advertising positions with Gannett, Hearst Newspapers and the Times Union in
CNN acquires Vargas'
immigration film 'Documented'
A former Washington Post journalist who later
revealed he has been living in the country illegally since childhood has made a
documentary about his experience and announced that he is selling broadcast
rights for the project to CNN Films.
Jose Antonio Vargas told The Associated Press the
CNN unit is acquiring his film, "Documented," to be broadcast
nationally in the spring of 2014. Vargas wrote and directed the film over the
past two years.
In 2011, Vargas revealed in a New York Times essay
that he has been living in the U.S. illegally since he was brought from the
Philippines as a child to live with his grandparents. He grew up in California
where teachers and school administrators helped him gain college admission, a
driver's license and employment. He later landed a job at The Washington Post
where he was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize.
Just before he revealed his immigration status,
Vargas began filming. He said he wanted to capture everything he was about to
go through. He also set out to tell stories of those brought to the country
illegally as children who would benefit from a path to permanent residency
under the stalled U.S. DREAM Act.
"It is imperative that we remind people what is
actually at stake and that we humanize as much as possible a highly political,
highly partisan issue," Vargas said. "A film to me has the potential
to not only change policy but to change people's minds and hearts."
Vargas now leads an advocacy group called Define
American that is planning a campaign for immigration reform around the time the
film is released.
Producers are also planning to release the
documentary in theaters. Vargas wants to show it in Texas and other places
grappling with a broken immigration system. This week, the film debuts at the
International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, though Vargas can't
attend because he can't leave the country.
Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and first
president of Facebook, is the film project's lead funder and executive
Amy Entelis, a senior vice president at CNN who
oversees the film unit, said Vargas takes the immigration story out of the context of a
Washington political battle and instead "makes that story very pointedly
human." CNN won't be advocating one side or the other in the immigration
debate, she said.
In the film, Vargas retraces his migration from age 12
when his mother put him on a plane to California. He learned he didn't have
immigration papers when he was 16. For the film, Vargas sent a camera back to
the Philippines to interview his mother, whom he hasn't seen in 20 years.
In another scene, Vargas calls immigration officials to
ask why he hasn't been deported. He is told they cannot comment.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Vargas went to a
campaign event in Iowa for Mitt Romney, a scene included in the film. He held a
sign that read: "I am an American w/o papers." Others attending the
event didn't understand why Vargas could not gain legal status with all his
"Immigration is the most controversial yet least
understood issue in America," he said. "This film, I think, embraces
the complexity of the issue."
Judge bans live TV coverage
of Arias retrial
A judge is banning live television coverage of Jodi Arias'
penalty phase retrial and has ordered that the case remain in Phoenix, Ariz.,
despite defense arguments that intense publicity will make it difficult to find
Arias was convicted of murder in May in the 2008 death of
boyfriend Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. The same jury failed
to reach a decision on whether she should get the death penalty, setting the
stage for a second penalty phase with new jurors.
Arias' first trial garnered worldwide attention with every
minute of the case broadcast live.
Judge Sherry Stephens is hoping to minimize the spectacle
this time by banning live television coverage. Stephens also won't sequester
the new jury.
No date has yet been set for the retrial.
Washington Post Co. will
become Graham Holdings
The Washington Post Co. is changing its name to Graham
Holdings to reflect the sale of its namesake newspaper.
The switch will become official on Nov. 29, and its New
York Stock Exchange ticker symbol will change to "GHC" from
Washington Post Co. closed the sale of most of its
newspaper business to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Oct. 1. Bezos reached a deal to
buy the venerable Capital broadsheet and other newspapers from the Graham
family for $250 million in August.
The company's remaining holdings include the Kaplan
education business; several television stations and Phoenix-based Cable One;
Slate and Foreign policy magazines, and TheRoot.com; home health care provider
Celtic Healthcare, and Forney Corp., which serves the electric utility sector.
Pa. students ban
'Redskins,' get sent to principal
When a high school newspaper at a suburban Philadelphia
football powerhouse decided the word "Redskins" had no place in its
pages, the paper's student editors found themselves called to the principal's
The dispute between Neshaminy High School's paper, the
Playwickian, and school administrators is a strange twist on the fight over
what students can and can't say: this time it's the students urging restraint.
The Playwickian editors started getting heat from school
officials after an Oct. 27 editorial that barred the use of the word
"Redskins" — the nickname of the teams at Neshaminy, a school named
for the creek where the Lenape Indians once lived.
"Detractors will argue that the word is used with all
due respect. But the offensiveness of a word cannot be judged by its intended
meaning, but by how it is received," read the editorial backed by 14
of 21 staff members. (An equally well-written op-ed voiced the dissenting
The ban comes as Native American activists and a few
media outlets, along with President Barack Obama, challenge the moniker of
Washington's NFL team, which visits Philadelphia on Sunday.
At Neshaminy — where the welcome sign sometimes
reads: "Everybody do the Redskin Rumble" and the football team is
11-1 with a shot at its second state title— news editors had pledged to stop
using the term "Redskins" as far back as 2001, but sometimes wavered.
This year's staff decided to take it on full-force.
"You are not afraid to write about the hard and
sensitive issues. You take risks on editorial pages — bravo!" judges wrote
last month in a student journalism contest, when the Playwickian earned a top
Nonetheless, Principal Robert McGee ordered the
editors to put the "Redskins" ban on hold, and summoned them to a
meeting after school Tuesday, according to junior Gillian McGoldrick, the
"People are (saying), 'Just give in. It doesn't
really matter.' But it's a huge deal, that we're being forced to say something
that we don't want to," said McGoldrick, a 16-year-old junior.
McGee called the editors' motives
"valiant," but said the dispute pits the rights of one group of
students against another.
His approximately 2,600 students must each publish
an article in the Playwickian for course credit. He doesn't think anyone should
be barred from writing about the Neshaminy Redskins, especially, he said, when
the harm alleged is open to debate.
"I don't think that's been decided at the
national level, whether that word is or is not (offensive). It's our school
mascot," said McGee, who said he's consulted with the school solicitor and
others. "I see it as a First Amendment issue running into another First
School officials had also ordered the Playwickian to
run a full-page, $200 ad — submitted by a Class of '72 alumnus — celebrating
the "Redskin" name, McGoldrick said.
In response, the nonprofit Student Press Law Center
and other groups bought a rival ad detailing the "Freedom of
Expression" students enjoy under state and federal law. That ad is set to
appear in the edition due out Wednesday, although the alumnus pulled the
pro-Redskins ad late last week, McGoldrick said.
Both the student law center and the American Civil
Liberties Union of Pennsylvania believe school districts are on shaky ground if
they try to compel students to use a given word, especially one the students
"I understand that there's an inclination to want to
protect a tradition at the school. But the First Amendment is a longer and a
better-established tradition," said Frank LoMonte, executive director of
the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.
"It's exactly what we tell young people in the
abstract we want them to do: use their voices in positive ways to bring about
social change. And yet when they tried to do it in practice, the school slapped
them down," he said. "That's a bad place for an educator to be."
European, US media face
new tests with NSA spying
The spying revelations by former National Security
Agency contractor Edward Snowden have made it a high-pressure, high-stakes time
to be a top media executive.
In Britain, the editor of the Guardian pulverized
entire hard drives of data leaked by Snowden to keep the government from
In the United States, The New York Times pointed out
in a major NSA expose this month that it agreed to self-censorship of
"some details that officials said could compromise intelligence
And in Spain, the El Mundo newspaper said last week
it would turn over Snowden documents to prosecutors inquiring whether the
privacy rights of Spaniards had been violated.
As revelations about the staggering scope of the
NSA's surveillance have leaked out, newsroom leaders around the world have been
weighing ethical decisions over how much they should reveal about
intelligence-gathering capabilities. Their decisions are guided, in part, by
media protection laws that vary widely from country to country.
"It's a new era. There are new questions coming
up and there are no clear answers here," said Robert Picard, a specialist
on media policy and director of research at the University of Oxford's Reuters
Institute. "The media are trying to navigate it and it is not comfortable.
You will get different opinions on the decision-making in different newsrooms
and within the same newsroom."
The huge number of Snowden documents has generated a
barrage of exclusive stories in the Guardian and The Washington Post, along with
a stream of revelations about the NSA surveillance in countries such as France,
Germany, Spain and Brazil. In some cases, publications that normally compete on
stories have teamed up to get the news out.
Britain's Official Secrets Act guards against the
dissemination of confidential material, and the government's response to the
Snowden leaks has become stormier and stormier. When Britain's deputy national
security adviser warned that agents would confiscate the Guardian's hard drives
containing Snowden files, editor Alan Rusbridger made the deal to have them
"I would rather destroy the copy than hand it
back to them or allow the courts to freeze our reporting," he said in
August. "I don't think we had Snowden's consent to hand the material back,
and I didn't want to help the U.K. authorities know what he had given us."
The fact that other copies of the material existed
in the United States and Brazil meant he could delete the data held in Britain
without fear that the story would die with it, he added.
As the pressure on the Guardian increased, the paper
turned to TheNew York Times and ProPublica, a U.S.-based nonprofit journalism
group. The decision to collaborate was partly technical, reporter James Ball
told an audience in London. But it was also a nod to what he called "First
Amendment issues," noting that being based in the United States gave those
working on the story the protection of America's press freedom laws.
That has its limits as well. When a recent New York
Times piece on the NSA appeared to disclose the first names of intelligence
analysts, some British lawmakers began wondering whether the paper was playing
fast and loose with the names of agents at GCHQ, the U.K government's
electronic eavesdropping agency. They've since summoned Rusbridger, the
Guardian's editor, to testify before a Parliamentary committee. Britain's
Metropolitan Police have also confirmed that detectives are investigating the
In France and Spain, the Snowden disclosures have so
far revealed that the NSA captured metadata from millions of telephone calls,
while in Germany they exposed U.S. monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel's
While European media must be wary about publishing
information about their intelligence agencies because of legal consequences,
the possibility that citizens' privacy rights might have been violated is
another major concern, said Jane Kirtley, director of the University of
Minnesota's Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law.
"If you look at how privacy protection has
developed in Europe, countries speak of privacy as a fundamental right, which
is not a concept we see in England or the United States," she said.
"The justification that the European media can give is that 'We are
helping to protect this fundamental right to privacy by revealing the
surveillance going on.'"
El Mundo's chief editor, Vicente Lozano Garcia, said
his newspaper had no problem turning over Snowden documents to Spanish
prosecutors because it had called for an investigation to determine whether the
spying broke Spanish laws. He added the only information given to them had
already been published and did not involve secrecy because the source — Snowden
— was known.
After El Mundo and France's Le Monde published their
stories on NSA spying, the NSA revealed that the monitoring in those countries
was done in coordination with NATO allies.
Le Monde's chief editor, Natalie Nougayrede, said
the paper has not come under pressure from French authorities to turn over
documents or to withhold information. Still, she said the paper was keeping the
documents "in a safe place" that she would not describe.
"Even if there were demands and pressure, I
would be absolutely adamant that we would just continue our work,"
The German government said Der Spiegel magazine,
which has published material from Snowden, approached it around Oct. 16 with
what it believed was the evidence showing the NSA had monitored Merkel's
After examining the material, Germany announced Oct.
23 that Merkel had called President Barack Obama to demand clarification. Der
Spiegel then posted the material on its website and in its print version.
Although the story unleashed a firestorm in Germany
and around the world, Der Spiegel's handling of the news has drawn little if
any criticism, neither for tipping off the government nor for publishing an
"The autonomy of the press is ensured in
Germany," said Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen, a professor for communication
studies at the Catholic University of Eichstaett. "Therefore, we don't
have the kind of problems between the media and the government here that exist
in other countries when it comes to the publication of the NSA files."
The biggest change for news organizations publishing
Snowden documents is that it marks a huge step forward in their access to
intelligence information. As they have done in the past, publications often
query government officials before making a decision on what to release.
Barton Gellman, the Washington Post reporter who
broke the story about NSA's PRISM data-gathering program, said at a conference
last month that U.S. government officials had asked him not to publish the
names of Yahoo Inc., Google Inc. and seven other Internet companies
participating in the NSA program.
Gellman said he refused because that would have
undermined the Post's principal mission of holding U.S. institutions
accountable. Including the technology companies' names propelled them to argue
for greater transparency about NSA's operations to show customers that they
were taking privacy concerns seriously, he said.
Gellman said he had "long conversations"
with U.S. government officials about the NSA documents and agreed there was
information in them that raised legitimate U.S. security concerns.
"We quickly agreed that that would not be in
the story and it turns out the Guardian made substantially identical decisions
without any mutual consultation," Gellman said.
The New York Times has not published as many
articles based on Snowden's information as the Guardian.
Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the Times,
said that she'd been approached by a British diplomat in Washington and asked
to relinquish the Snowden documents. She said she refused.
Abramson also told BBC's "Newsnight"
television program that she was distressed to see criticism of the reporters
breaking the NSA spying stories.
"We balance the need to inform the public
against possible harm to national security, and we do that very seriously and
soberly," she said.
Rock City Times brings
humor to Little Rock news
According to one report, Little Rock weathermen Jeff
Baskin and Keith Monahan quarreled over the weekend's rain chances, made snide
remarks about each other on air and then settled their feud with fists outside
of the TV station before they were arrested.
The story was shared all over Facebook and Twitter
and drew criticism from credulous readers, but much like forecasts for
snowballs in hell, the whole thing was entirely false.
"We had comments on our social media pages
asking us why we wouldn't acknowledge the fight," says Austin Kellerman,
news director for TV stations KARK-TV, Channel 4, and KLRT-TV, Channel 16.
"Meteorologists across the country were
tweeting things about it as if it were real. A SiriusXM morning show reported
it as fact the next morning."
"How many times does the Rock City Times have
to pull something over on everyone for them to figure out what it is?" he
asks, with a laugh.
What it is, is a fake news site that's a little bit
of The Onion and a whole lot of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update
headquartered in Arkansas' capital city. The man behind the mayhem is Greg
Henderson, 30, a Web developer and marketing guy who has completed all of the
coursework for a master's degree in communications.
He launched Rock City Times (rockcitytimes.com) in
March 2012, but has been consistently posting since this past spring.
"I've always been a big fan of satire," he
says, adding that his interest was piqued first in grade school when introduced
to Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.
"You almost have to take a social issue and
make it seem as ridiculous as humanly possible to understand what's really
going on there, and that's what I do in a lot of the stories," he tells
the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1eRbnn4 ).
However, he acknowledges many of the site's reports
hew closer to parody than satire.
"Some of them are not social issues just for
the fact that they can't all be serious.
They've just got to be stupid-funny. And that
happens," he says.
It also happens to dupe unsuspecting media outlets.
One of his most popular stories was picked up
without attribution by the online edition of the United Kingdom's Daily Mirror
in late June. It was the tale of a Little Rock food blogger who put himself
into a coma by eating 413 cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster.
"Then it got picked up by an Australian
newspaper and by an Italian one that had done research and figured out it was
fake and that the Mirror was ripping me off. . Then the Globe and Mail picked
it up, retracted it and called me for an interview," Henderson says.
"They were actually the first major outlet to realize it was fake."
The food blogger subject of that story, Kevin
Shalin, also known as The Mighty Rib (themightyrib.com), hadn't been to Red
Lobster since he was 5 years old. A series of unfortunate events led to a
dinner with roughly 15 local "foodies" at the restaurant chain. As
they walked in, Shalin quipped to Henderson, "There's a story here somewhere
- all of these foodies going to Red Lobster on a Friday night."
Shalin certainly didn't expect to be the focal point
of the story, he says. "But that's the kiss of death with Greg. If you
give him an idea, he'll run with it. He's very smart; he's creative. He took a
picture of me eating a biscuit that night, and I didn't think much of it."
The next morning, Shalin saw the fateful article on
Rock City Times' website and got a laugh out of it.
"I thought about 100 people would see it, but
by Sunday evening, I could tell it was getting a little viral, but all of his
stuff gets viral, so it wasn't a big deal," he says. "But by Monday I
believe, it had really gotten crazy."
At one point, Shalin's saga was posted on a major
news outlet page next to a story about Nelson Mandela.
"Someone sent me a screen grab of their Web
page and I was the top story, for a couple of hours in (the United Kingdom's)
The Sun, right above Nelson Mandela on his deathbed, and me with biscuits
around my face," Shalin says. They were Photoshopped onto Henderson's
Though his email and Facebook message boxes were
filling up with interview requests, Shalin would not talk to the press and
deflected all of the attention back to Henderson.
"What were they gonna do?" he says.
"I didn't eat 400 biscuits. I ate two biscuits; end of story. Greg created
a template response for my email, and that's the way we handled it for a while.
But lots of cool things have come of it. I have my own Snopes page now. I'm an
News director Kellerman says outside of the fighting
weathermen story, his favorite piece from Rock City Times has to be the Red
"That's hilarious to me. You couldn't get
through five of those biscuits without (getting sick), and the fact that
someone believed that happened and immediately reported it without
fact-checking or verifying is funny," he says. "You could almost
picture them saying, 'Those Arkansans in America, eating their 400
Shalin thinks what happened to him could be a great
lesson for a journalism class: "All of these (media outlets) are not even
fact-checking. They're just taking something and running with it, and how many
of these ridiculous stories you hear on morning radio, did they even happen,
are they even true?"
As for Kellerman, he says he's not offended by what
Rock City Times does and says it doesn't change the nature of his profession.
It only adds another layer.
"The challenge for journalists is, at what
point do you acknowledge that these sources are out there?" he says.
"We see it and start laughing, but then people start calling. .. It's just
one of those things you have to acknowledge are out there and deal with, I
Kellerman says Rock City Times has an inherent
believability factor because most people wouldn't expect a parody news site to
be based in Arkansas: "You don't necessarily expect that from Little Rock.
It's a unique thing you have in this community, and I see where it has the
ability to confuse people."
In neighboring Saline County, the newspaper editor
had to address the existence of Rock City Times after a story about Sheriff
Bruce Pennington and Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs was published, saying the two were
banned from the Saline County Fair on opening night. In realnews, the three-term
sheriff was convicted in early September on two alcohol-related misdemeanors.
The Rock City story reported Pennington attempted to
ride the fair's tilt-a-whirl all night as he sought the feeling of being dizzy
and intoxicated. When the parody story broke Sept. 4, it was the first time
Saline Courier editor Brent Davis, 55, had encountered Rock City Times.
"I received text messages and emails about the
story that Rock City had run about them being banned because of Bruce riding
the tilt-a-whirl all night, and Jill Dabbs being the one that did the water
pistol concession and made extreme profits by lowering the water pressure on the pistols that you shoot the target with and
tripling the price (on the game)," he says. "And this was all a play
on her raising the water rates in Bryant."
This story was
just believable enough - it had that pearl of truth rolling around inside a
hard shell of ridiculousness.
what made it so believable was what was going on with Sheriff Pennington,"
Davis says. "Some people weren't surprised if that would have actually
been true. The county has had lots of attention lately, and sometimes you think
this kind of thing can't be made up, though it was a funny story."
responded to the incident in print with an editorial.
"I wrote a
column about ... how we are a nation of scammers and we tend to take surface
information and take it as fact without finding out for ourselves if it's true
or not," he says. "And I mentioned in there that we'd gotten calls
(about the fake story)."
Henderson manage to create phony stories that hit a nerve with the public?
First, he keeps
up with local news every day, but he also looks for the emotional impact of a
story, which he says he can't get from traditional journalistic reporting. So
he turns to Twitter.
Twitter, people share their thoughts and emotions, and how they're feeling
about what they're hearing," he says. "If people are passionate about
a story that's being under reported then I'll report it. If a big story is
going on and I don't hear anything about it, then people don't really care and
I won't do anything on it."
If a lackluster
story is getting lots of gripes on social media, Henderson says he'll attack it
from the standpoint of the emotional response he's seeing.
It's a system
that sees results, at least in the realm of page views. He regularly sees
between 300,000 to 400,000 page views in a month, but the largest story - one
about an enraged mother throwing flaming diapers at Fourth of July revelers shooting
fireworks in her neighborhood - got about 750,000 to 800,000 page views.
As a fellow
blogger and Internet guru, Shalin says he's impressed with the success of Rock
is really booming .," Shalin says. "He's just really creative with
this. It's a real talent he has. And not every story is going to super viral,
but I bet 1 out of 10 hits."
Shalin says the
only thing that bothered him about his time as parody pariah was the
mischaracterization of Rock City Times as a site.
"A lot of
headlines ran as if this was a hoax," he says. "Greg is not trying to
fool anyone. It's a satirical website, and Greg's really open about that."
Even though his
station has fielded many phone calls related to Henderson's meteorology
mischief, Kellerman agrees.
punch you in the face that it's a fake news site," he says. "But I
don't think he needs to put a bigger disclaimer up there. Yes, it does say,
'Second-most unreliable news site,' but people aren't necessarily taking the
time to look at everything on the page."
Henderson, he also takes umbrage when the word "hoax" is used on him,
but outside of that, he wouldn't change a thing about the site or the response
he gets. It keeps him engaged in local news and in touch with his community.
"I love it.
It's always going to be my No. 1 passion, regardless of whatever else I start
up," he says. "It's a fun site to do every day, and I love everything
challenge to direct mail deal
An appeals court panel
has rejected a challenge by a newspaper trade group to a U.S. Postal Service
agreement with a direct mailing company.
In the agreement,
Valassis Direct Mail Inc. receives discounted postage rates for some of its
advertisement mailers once its mail volume hits a certain level.
Association of America challenged the deal, citing a legal requirement that
such deals not cause "unreasonable harm to the marketplace."
But the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with the Postal Service.
At stake for newspapers
is advertising revenue, especially from pre-printed inserts into Sunday
refuses to remove Philly newspaper exec
A judge Thursday, Nov.
14, refused to remove the publisher of Philadelphia's two largest newspapers,
at least while a court fight between owners plays out.
Publisher Bob Hall will
stay on the job while powerful co-owners George Norcross and Lewis Katz fight
over control of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.
The fate of editor Bill
Marimow, one of several legal issues in dispute in their rival lawsuits,
remains undecided. The hearing over the firing is now set to run at least
through Monday, Nov. 18.
In testimony Thursday,
Katz described Hall as a yes-man for Norcross, and said that's why the
part-time publisher fired Marimow last month. Katz complained that he was
improperly cut out of the decision.
"Mr. Hall was
clearly (Norcross's) supportive actor in the company," Katz said. "I
had let a lot of things go with Mr. Hall. This was the last straw."
Katz said Norcross has
sought to fire Marimow since January.
"Mr. Norcross felt
that Mr. Marimow should be fired because he wasn't a leader, ... (and) he was
resistant to change," Katz testified.
Their rival lawsuits are
being fought by at least 16 lawyers, including Philadelphia legal warrior
Richard Sprague for Katz and former Homeland Security secretary Michael
Chertoff for Norcross.
Wednesday that he was fired after refusing to fire five veteran editors. Katz
elaborated, saying the newsroom targets had tangled with members of Norcross's
Lexie, helps run the Philly.com website. Katz has his own personal link to the
newsroom, longtime companion Nancy Phillips, a veteran reporter who testified
that she facilitated Marimow's hiring as Katz and Norcross negotiated to buy
the company last year. Phillips has since become city editor under Marimow, who
won two Pulitzer Prizes — the nation's top honor in newspaper journalism —
during several stints at the Inquirer.
The newspapers have had
five owners in seven years, a period when their value dropped from $515 million
to $55 million, and workers endured layoffs and pay cuts.
Katz and Norcross
invested $16 million apiece toward the $55 million purchase in April 2012, and
hold 26 percent stakes. Four other business leaders made smaller investments.
But Katz and Norcross set up a two-man management committee to control key
business decisions. Katz thought that would force them to get along.
Norcross would have full power over the whole operation, including the
newsroom," Katz said. "We would be where we are today, in a terrible
Katz, a former
Democratic party leader in Cherry Hill, N.J., made his money in parking lots
and real estate, and also owned the New Jersey Nets. Norcross is an insurance
executive and powerful New Jersey Democrat. They had never done a deal together
before, Katz said.
Maine court orders
release of 911 transcripts
The state's highest court on Thursday, Nov. 14, ordered
law enforcement officials to release transcripts of 911 calls from the fatal
shootings of two teenagers in Biddeford, ruling that officials failed to prove
how releasing the transcripts could harm their criminal investigation.
The Supreme Judicial Court's decision ends what The
Portland Press Herald described as a blanket policy by law enforcement of
rejecting the release of 911 transcripts.
Under Maine law, 911 transcripts are to be made
available under the Freedom of Access Act. But there can be exceptions for
"intelligence and investigative records." In this case, the high
court ruled that law enforcement officials failed to show how releasing the
transcripts could harm the investigation.
"This is an important win for the public's
right to know how Maine's emergency communication system operates and paves the
way for greater public access to information in ongoing criminal
proceedings," said Sigmund Shutz, an attorney who represented MaineToday
Media Inc., the parent company of the Press Herald.
The decision focused three 911 calls made before and
after a double-shooting in Biddeford.
James Pak, a landlord, is charged with killing
Derrick Thompson, 19, and his girlfriend, Alivia Welch, 18, after he argued
with them about late rent, snow shoveling and parking. Biddeford police
officers had been called to intervene in the dispute but they left before it
turned violent. Pak has pleaded not guilty.
"We conclude that the state failed to meet its
burden of establishing the reasonable possibility that disclosure of the ...
transcripts would interfere with law enforcement proceedings," Justice
Ellen Gorman wrote in the unanimous ruling.
While the ruling won't result in the release of all 911
transcripts, it provides guidance to law enforcement officials, ending blanket
denials and requiring justification for withholding transcripts. In the Pak
case, the court sent the case back to the original judge, with instructions for
him to release the transcripts.
The attorney general's office contended that
releasing transcripts to the public can harm investigations, color witnesses'
memories and taint jury pools, not to mention being time consuming.
On Thursday, Attorney General Janet Mills said her
office will comply with the supreme court ruling, but she said she wished the
justices had addressed the potential effect on trials.
The state wants to ensure a fair trial and eliminate
any possible grounds for appeal, she said.
"If we don't protest the disclosure of
something that could impair the right of a fair trial for the defendant, then
we could be accused of not allowing a fair trial after a conviction," she
MaineToday Media Inc. sued for release of the
transcripts under the open-records law.
"The court has made it clear that
government secrecy cannot win out over the public's right to know," said
Cliff Schechtman, executive editor of The Portland Press Herald.
Several organizations including The Associated
Press, Committee for Freedom of the Press and New England First Amendment
Center submitted a legal brief supporting the newspaper's stance.
Pa. paper: Sorry for
panning Gettysburg Address
It took 150 years, but a Pennsylvania newspaper says
it should have recognized the greatness of President Abraham Lincoln's
Gettysburg Address at the time it was delivered.
The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, about 35 miles
northeast of Gettysburg, retracted a dismissive editorial penned by its Civil
War-era predecessor, The Harrisburg Patriot & Union.
The president's speech is now considered a triumph
of American oratory.
The Nov. 14 retraction, which echoes Lincoln's
now-familiar language, said the newspaper's November 1863 coverage was wrong
when it described the speech as "silly remarks" that deserved a
"veil of oblivion."
The paper now says it regrets the error of not
seeing its "momentous importance, timeless eloquence and lasting
"By today's words alone, we cannot exalt, we
cannot hallow, we cannot venerate this sacred text, for a grateful nation long
ago came to view those words with reverence, without guidance from this
chagrined member of the mainstream media," the paper wrote, echoing the
words of the address.
Separately, the paper also recounted how it covered
the dedication of the national cemetery (http://bit.ly/1aVGGLS ), nearly five months after the pivotal
battle in which federal forces repelled a Confederate Army advance from
Virginia into Pennsylvania. More than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the battle
are buried there.
During the Civil War, the Patriot & Union was a
Democratic newspaper that was staunchly opposed to Lincoln.
An event to remember the 150th anniversary of the
speech is scheduled for Tuesday in Gettysburg.
New publisher named at
The Vicksburg Post
Jeff Schumacher has been named publisher of The
Vicksburg (Miss.) Post and affiliated publications and president of Vicksburg
Schumacher, a native of Drayton, N.D., most recently
was general manager of Mountaineer Publishing Co. in Waynesville, N.C.
"I will bring all of my energy, resources and
knowledge to give Vicksburg a community newspaper of which they can be
extremely proud," he said. "I look forward to building long-lasting
relationships with our readers, as well as our clients. After all, The
Vicksburg Post belongs to them. I am just the one given the privilege of being
The announcement was made Tuesday, Nov. 12, by Todd
Carpenter, president of Boone Newspapers, parent company of the Post.
"We are pleased to welcome Jeff Schumacher to
Vicksburg and The Post, his family to Mississippi. He shares our values and
beliefs, and I know he will work hard to serve the Vicksburg community, readers
and advertisers, to see we meet our every obligation to all who have a stake in
the success of the newspaper and community," Carpenter said in a
Schumacher attended Moorhead State University in
Moorhead, Minn., and North Dakota State University in Fargo, majoring in mass
His first newspaper job was as sports editor and
sales executive for DAK Publishing in Dickinson, N.D.
Schumacher led groups of
newspapers in North Dakota and South Dakota as publisher and regional director
for Kelly Publishing Inc. and Dickson Media.
He also served as general manager of The
Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer newspaper for nearly three years.
Schumacher and his wife, Michelle, have four
children. They will relocate to Vicksburg in the spring at the completion of
the school year.
Averyt named publisher
The E.W. Scripps Co. has named Libby Averyt as
regional publisher and chief revenue officer for the Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times.
Averyt currently is the Caller-Times' vice president
of advertising and has spent her professional career with the newspaper. Her
new duties begin Jan. 1.
The Caller-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1bDtqrZ ) the 49-year-old will
succeed Darrell Coleman, who's retiring at the end of the year after 35 years
in newspapers, the last four as publisher of the Caller-Times.
Averyt began her career covering the evening police
beat. In 1990 she was awarded the Edward Willis Scripps Award for Distinguished
Service to the First Amendment. A decade later she was named managing editor
and then three years later was promoted to editor. She later transitioned to a
new role promoting the company's digital efforts.
CBS says review of '60
Minutes' story is ongoing
CBS News said Wednesday, Nov. 13, that it is
conducting an "ongoing journalistic review" into how "60
Minutes" aired a story about the 2012 attack on a U.S. mission in
Benghazi, Libya, based in part on the testimony of a man who said he was there
when now there is considerable doubt he was.
The source, former security contractor Dylan Davies,
claimed to CBS that he had taken part in fighting at the mission on the night
of the attack, even though he had told his bosses at the Blue Mountain security
company that he had not been there. CBS backed off the story late last week
when it was reported that Davies had also told the FBI that he was not at the
scene, and CBS' Lara Logan apologized to viewers Sunday for the Oct. 27 story,
saying the network could no longer trust Davies.
The network would not say Wednesday who is
conducting its review, whether anyone outside the network was involved, or
whether the results would be made public.
"I'm glad to see CBS take this step," said
David Brock, founder of the liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America,
which has doggedly criticized CBS for its story on the contentious political
issue. "An ongoing review means the network acknowledges that a serious
journalistic transgression occurred."
CBS has given no indication that Logan or anyone
else involved in reporting or vetting the story will face disciplinary action.
There are several questions ripe for discussion,
among them whether there was enough in the story to advance public knowledge of
what happened in the Sept. 11, 2012, raid, said Marvin Kalb, a former CBS News
reporter who is senior adviser to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Among other issues:
—What importance did Davies' book play in advancing
the story? Davies' publisher, CBS-owned Simon & Schuster, withdrew his
book, "The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan
Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There," last week when questions were
raised about the author's account. The book had been published two days after
the "60 Minutes" story aired.
—How thorough was CBS' investigation into Davies'
background and his claims? Should his admission that he lied to his employer
about his whereabouts given CBS more reason to doubt him? CBS News has one of
television's most thoroughly sourced reporters on law enforcement and
investigative issues in John Miller, although he doesn't work for "60
Minutes." Was he brought in to help vet Davies' claims?
"Somewhere in the preparation of this story
there was inadequate checking of information passed on by what amounts to a
sole source for the news," Kalb said. "It seems to me that was always
something I've counted on '60 Minutes' to do."
—Does Jeff Fager's dual role at CBS News cut off
opportunities for further questioning of a story like this before it goes on
the air? Fager is both chairman of CBS News and executive producer of "60
Minutes." He's received praise for giving the news division a clear
direction — and ratings are up for the morning and evening newscasts — but
should the same person have authority over the newsmagazine and the
newsdivision as a whole?
—Does CBS News, particularly "60 Minutes,"
owe a more thorough explanation to viewers about what happened?
"As soon as we had confirmation of a problem
with this report on Thursday, we issued a statement to that effect; we then
went on the air Friday morning to address it, correct it and apologize, spoke
at length to media outlets about the matter and now have explained it to our
audience in a correction on our broadcast," ''60 Minutes" spokesman
Kevin Tedesco noted this week.
Library to preserve
Archive of Public Broadcasting
Early interviews with John F. Kennedy, Hubert
Humphrey and Ronald Reagan are part of a collection of public broadcast
recordings dating to the 1950s that will now be preserved at the Library of
Under a project funded by the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting and announced Thursday, Nov. 14, 40,000 hours of radio and
television content is being digitized for long-term preservation at the
library. It will become the American Archive of Public Broadcasting and will be
housed at the library's National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in
underground vaults in Culpeper, Va.
Recordings of Kennedy and Humphrey come from Twin
Cities Public Television's coverage in 1960 presidential primaries. There is
also a commentary by George Lucas on his first "Star Wars" movies
from KUSC in Los Angeles and 1967 interviews with then-California Gov. Ronald
Reagan from Boston's WGBH.
The archive, made up of contributions from about 120
stations nationwide, also is rich with regional programming, curators said.
There is a series on the history of Southwest Florida, films of performances of
an acclaimed organist at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and shows on
the space program.
"It's an incredible collection for local and
regional history that has not been shown to the rest of the country," said
curator Alan Gevinson of the library's audio-visual conservation center.
"A lot of what stations picked as what they really wanted to preserve were
shows about their own areas."
Public, education-related radio dates to the 1920s,
and public TV goes back to the 1950s — before the creation of NPR and PBS.
"But as far as archiving, nothing really had
been done, and certainly not at this scale, until now," Gevinson said.
Public broadcasting officials began creating an
inventory of significant recordings held by stations in 2007, resulting in 2.5
million records. That list was narrowed down for the archive.
The project will make the recordings available to
researchers and the public at both the library and WGBH in Boston over the next
two years. The station helped coordinate the archival project.
Digitized recordings will eventually be made
available online with the permission of copyright holders, Gevinson said. The
library also hopes to create exhibits based on the collection.
Congress urged the creation of a public broadcast
archive at the time when stations were converting to digital transmission and
encouraged the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to spend some federal funds
on the project.
CNN names Brian Stelter
host of 'Reliable Sources'
CNN says media reporter Brian Stelter is the new host
of "Reliable Sources," the network's weekly look at developments in
the media world.
The network says Stelter will also serve as a senior
media correspondent for CNN Worldwide.
He comes from The New York Times, where he was a
media industry reporter.
He replaces Howard Kurtz, who left the two-decade-old
program earlier this year to join Fox News Channel.
Stelter joined The New York Times in 2007. Before
that, he created TVNewser, a blog covering the television news industry.
He is the author of "Top of the Morning: Inside
the Cutthroat World of Morning TV," about the competitive world of morning
"Reliable Sources" airs Sundays at 11 a.m.
News Corp 1Q revenue,
profit misses expectations
News Corp.'s revenue unexpectedly fell in its first
quarter since being spun off as a publishing-focused company, as revenue from
its Australian newspapers plunged. The results Monday, Nov. 11, were short of
analysts' forecasts and the company's shares fell more than 2 percent.
Net income in the fiscal first quarter, which ended
in September, was $27 million, or 5 cents per share. That compares with a loss
of $92 million, or 16 cents per share, a year ago.
Adjusted to exclude costs related to a U.K. hacking
probe and other items, earnings came to $17 million, or 3 cents per share,
which was below the 5 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet.
Revenue fell 3 percent to $2.07 billion, also below
the $2.18 billion analysts were looking for.
"We will be candid with you about the
challenges, as we have been about the headwinds buffeting our Australian
newspaper business," said CEO Robert Thomson. "But we are confident
that our emerging strategy will well serve our investors, employees and our
Among the company's new strategies is creating an
advertising sales network, instead of relying on third-party networks for
"Any advertiser who wants to reach our great
content and premium audiences must do so directly," Thomson said.
The company's shares fell 37 cents, or 2.1percent,
to $17.05 in extended trading after the results came out.
Revenue from news and information services fell 10
percent to $1.5 billion. The company attributed much of that decline to a 22
percent drop in revenue from Australian newspapers, which include The
Australian and The Daily Telegraph.
Westcott Rochette, an analyst with S&P Capital
IQ, said the Australian newspapers are now experiencing the pain felt in the
U.S. and U.K. newspaper markets for the last several years, as declining print
ad revenue is not matched by digital gains.
"Essentially it's catching up to the underlying
operating trends that you've seen in the U.S. And it's been a severe kind of
catch-up," he said.
For the division overall, circulation and
subscription revenue fell 6 percent, while ad revenue fell 12 percent.
Unfavorable currency-exchange rates exacerbated the decline, as revenue in
Australian dollars translated to fewer U.S. dollars.
The company said U.S. ad revenue at its flagship
newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, was unchanged, although subscription and
circulation revenue improved.
Despite flat ad revenue, usage of the Journal's
mobile app was up 59 percent in the month of September. That raised concerns
among some analysts that ad dollars weren't following consumer behavior.
Still, cost-cutting helped lift profits despite
revenue that was weaker than expected, said Douglas Arthur, an analyst with
Evercore Partners. "The overall result was better than we thought,"
Book publishing revenue from its HarperCollins
business fell 7 percent to $328 million. An increase in e-book sales was more
than offset by the divestiture of a live events business, softness in Christian
titles and a decision to stop distributing books on behalf of other companies.
Pay TV programming revenue came to $132 million, as
businesses like Fox Sports Australia were added to the company as part of its
spin-off from Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. in June.
Digital real estate services revenue rose 11 percent
to $90 million.
Fox reporter's lawyers
seek to keep sources secret
New York's highest court will decide whether state
law protects a Fox News reporter from revealing confidential sources from a
story about James Holmes, who's accused of killing 12 people in a suburban
Denver movie theater last year.
Holmes' lawyers want Jana Winter, who works at New
York-based Fox News, brought to a Colorado courtroom to name two law officers
who told her Holmes had mailed a notebook depicting violence to a psychiatrist.
They argue the sources violated a gag order, may have later lied under oath
about that and won't be credible as trial witnesses.
Holmes' attorneys argue that New York journalists,
as a group, are not immune from being subpoenaed to testify in other states.
The Court of Appeals will hear arguments Tuesday,
Nov. 12. Its ruling is expected in December.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
His murder trial is scheduled for February.
New York has a strong so-called "shield
law" protecting professional journalists from having to disclose their
confidential sources and preventing courts from finding them in contempt if
they don't disclose. Colorado has a similar law, but with an exception to
subpoena information "directly relevant to a substantial issue" that
cannot be obtained elsewhere.
Winter reported that the notebook, mailed to a
University of Colorado psychiatrist before the mass shooting, had drawings of
"gun-wielding stick figures blowing away other stick figures." She
cited two unnamed law enforcement sources.
"In cases of confidential source information,
the privilege is absolute," Winter's attorney Dori Hanswirth said of New
York's law. "It was designed to be very strong."
"Essentially what we're arguing is that the
public policy in New York that's embodied in the shield law should have
prevented the judge from signing off on this particular subpoena,"
Hanswirth said Monday. Winter has "never wavered" on the accuracy of
New York's shield law was first enacted in 1970.
Gov. Nelson Rockefeller said at the time that it would make New York, as the
nation's principal center for news gathering and dissemination, "the only
state that clearly protects the public's right to know and the First Amendment
rights of all legitimate newspapermen."
Daniel Arshack, an attorney for Holmes, said this
case isn't about the shield law at all — just about issuing a subpoena to a
"The issue of what the Colorado court is going
to do is for the Colorado court to decide," Arshack said. "The only
issue before the court in New York is whether there is a singular class of
citizens who are immune to subpoenas."
A Manhattan judge granted the subpoena for Winter to
testify, rejecting the claim she's protected from going by New York's shield
law. Justice Larry Stephen concluded that whether Winter's information is
needed and should be disclosed was an issue for the Colorado court to decide.
A midlevel court agreed. The majority wrote that
compelling her to testify was not the same as compelling her to disclose
sources. The three justices also concluded the issue of admissible evidence and
journalist privilege "remain within the purview of the demanding state
rather than the sending state," in this case Colorado.
The two dissenters countered that the majority
"fails to acknowledge the near certainty" the Colorado court will
compel her to either identify her confidential sources or go to jail for contempt,
contrary to New York's public policy. They said she could suffer "undue
hardship" in damage to her career.
Tribune posts 3Q profit
amid revenue decline
Tribune Co. said Monday, Nov. 11, that revenue fell
in the third quarter but it turned a profit as it spent less on salaries and
newsprint. The owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and 23 TV
stations also dealt with big costs a year ago related to its exit from
CEO Peter Liguori said in a statement that the
company was pleased to have made progress on key strategic initiatives in the
quarter, but the financial results "did not meet our expectations."
He said the company is trying to make its
broadcasting stations grow profitably and complete its $2.73 billion purchase
of Local TV Holdings and its 19 TV stations. The company said it continues to
plan to spin off its publishing business, which contains eight daily
newspapers, by mid-2014.
Net income came to $49.8 million, or 50 cents per
share, in the three months through Sept. 29, reversing a loss of $30.6 million
a year ago.
The company emerged from a four-year stint under bankruptcy
protection last December, and its reorganization costs fell to $2 million from
$139 million a year ago.
The company doesn't have comparable per-share
results from a year ago, when it was still in bankruptcy protection.
Revenue fell 5 percent to $695 million.
Broadcasting revenue from TV stations including
WGN-TV in Chicago and WPIX-TV in New York fell 6 percent to $248 million.
Advertising declined 4 percent to $198 million due to lower audience ratings
and a weaker market for last-minute national TV ads.
Publishing revenue fell 4 percent to $446 million as
advertising sales fell 7 percent to $245 million. Circulation revenue rose 3
percent to $106 million.
The company cut 240 jobs, mostly in publishing, in
Open records advocates
fear impact of court ruling
Transparency advocates are warning about the
ramifications of a recent Tennessee appeals court ruling that "high
government officials" can keep documents secret if they deem them part of
their decision-making process.
The court upheld a lower court's ruling that
then-Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration was justified in denying the release
of records on the basis that they were part of the "deliberative
process" about how to deal with demonstrators encamped in the state
Capitol in 2005 to protest cuts to TennCare, the state's expanded Medicaid
The unanimous opinion written by Judge Richard
Dinkins, whom Bredesen appointed in 2008, endorsed the argument that
"advice high governmental officials receive be protected from
disclosure" because those officials need to be able to speak freely and
confidentially with trusted advisers.
Ben Cunningham, the founder and president of the
Nashville Tea Party, called the ruling "an assault on open government
(that) will invite abuse of power by any government official arrogant enough to
consider themselves a 'high government official.'"
While previous legal rulings had acknowledged that
an exemption might exist for records deemed deliberative, the Oct. 29 ruling
for the first time explicitly applied it to a specific case, Tennessee Press
Association attorney Rick Hollow said.
"That's the huge hurdle that we've just
crossed," Hollow said. "The only question now becomes, how far does
The opinion, which was joined by judges Patricia
Cottrell and Frank Clement, extends to "those vested with the
responsibility of developing and implementing law and public policy." But
it doesn't specify which specific government positions are eligible.
"Now that it has been recognized, every public
official, starting at the lowest level and running to the top can say, 'Oh, you
can't find out what was going on, that's part of the deliberative process
privilege,'" Hollow said.
While the case applies directly to the state's rules
of evidence in civil cases, Hollow said it would be "naive to the point of
absurdity" to not expect the ruling to be applied to open records requests
by citizens and the media.
In fact, the deliberative process privilege quickly
became a mainstay of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's administration after he
succeeded Bredesen, a Democrat, in 2011. It has been used as the basis for
denying information ranging from Haslam's email address to details of a
much-hyped "top to bottom review" of state agencies.
When challenged about where state law authorizes the
denial of public records based on deliberative privilege, Haslam's attorneys
said the decision was based on common law, not on any of the more than 300
exemptions to the state's open records law.
The appeals court ruling came in a case filed on
behalf of Karl Davidson, who had sued over the treatment of protesters during a
Capitol sit-in over Bredesen's cuts to TennCare in 2005.
Frank Gibson, the founding director of the Tennessee
Coalition on Open Government, said the decision is curious because the
documents sought by Davidson could have been blocked under other exemptions
such as lawyer-client privilege that are already on the books.
TCOG is a nonprofit alliance of citizen,
professional and media groups, including The Associated Press, committed to
promoting government transparency.
"This will provide another vague excuse for
some government officials to abuse the records law despite language in there
that the privilege should apply in specific and narrow circumstances,"
said Gibson, who now works as a lobbyist for the Tennessee Press Association.
The ruling also sets up potentially conflicting
guidance on the state's open meetings law — where secret deliberations among
members of any panel requiring a quorum are explicitly forbidden in all but a
few limited instances.
Cunningham, the Nashville Tea Party leader, said the
ruling gives top government officials the legal backing to "operate
"Such behavior by our elected officials will
destroy public trust," he said. "On the contrary, the court should
expect even more accountability from so-called high government officials."