Monday, September 30, 2013

Dr. Oz Gives Till It Hearst

English: Photo of Dr.Oz at the Time 100 Gala.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We're just a couple of weeks away from Hearst Corp., publisher of Esquire and Cosmopolitan, unveiling the name of a new magazine that will be branded around celebrity doc Mehmet Oz, Ad Age reports.

According to Ad Age, the periodical's title may be The Good Life and will somehow work in the name of Dr. Oz. And why not, given that the 53-year-old cardiothoracic surgeon has been a hot property since first appearing on Oprah Winfrey's show in 2004, which led to his own series beginning in 2009, cleverly named The Dr. Oz Show.

The Cleveland native, whose parents are Turkish emigrants, has written for numerous Hearst magazines. His own journal is expected to focus on food, beauty, and physical and emotional well-being, according to the Ad Age article. Two pilot issues are expected to debut in 2014, and Ad Age reports the initial issue will have a rollout of 350,000 newsstand copies, while another 450,000 copies will be sent to subscribers of other select Hearst titles.

The magazine publisher is hoping to capture lightning in a bottle in ways that the disappointing O: The Oprah Magazine has not.  It remains to be seen whether a celebrity physician can cure the sagging ad revenues and circulation that afflict magazines nowadays.

Open your mouth and say: "Oz."
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Blood-From-A-Stone Dept.: Trib. Co. Must Shrink Budget $100m

English: Downtown Chicago, Illinois at night. ...
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Tribune Co. CEO Peter Ligouri reportedly issued marching orders to company brass this week that the media conglomerate needs to hack $100 million off its budget by December 1, according to media blog

Feder, a former tv columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, posted that the Trib Co. had retained New York-based consultant, Empirical Media, helmed by former Time, Inc. CEO Jack Griffin, to help trim the fat off the media giant, which emerged from an arduous four-year Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year (see "TUOL" post 1/2/13). The Tribune Co. is breaking off its publishing arm into a separate company and looking to unload its newspaper properties, which include flagship Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant.  The conglomerate wants to focus on its broadcasting holdings, which it bolstered last summer by adding 19 tv stations acquired from Local TV, LLC (see "TUOL" post 7/10/13).

Feder's article doesn't discuss the particulars regarding which areas will feel the sting of the massive cuts, but if past actions by the company and industry-wide trends are a guide, newsrooms had better gird for an increase in vacant desks.
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Did Crossfire Newt Cross CNN Disclosure Rules?

English: Newt Gingrich
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The quartet of co-hosts of CNN-resurrected Crossfire (see "TUOL" post 6/27/13) have barely had time to settle into full-throated shouting at one another, and already former House Speaker and perpetual presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may be headed for a woodshed spanking, Politico reports.

According to a report by the decidedly not impartial liberal watchdog Media Matters for America, Gingrich seems to have run afoul of standards and practices set by CNN ("Crossfire? No! No!") by allegedly not disclosing political contributions made by him or a PAC in which he is involved to candidates who appear on, or are the subject of discussion on the program. CNN didn't respond to Politico's request for comment.

Mother Jones magazine claims Gingrich's PAC recently has sweetened the respective pots of Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.), a Crossfire guest, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Tex.), a topic of discussion on the gabfest, without Gingrich acknowledging either contribution on-air.

Much ado about nothing and "gotcha" journalism, "TUOL" unabashedly concedes. It is refreshing, however, to write about a Gingrich gaffe that doesn't involve lunar colonies or isn't serial marriage-related.
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USA Today Ponders Paywall as Newsstand Price Set to Double

USA Today
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USA Today President and Publisher Larry Kramer today clarified his comments that appeared in the New York Post that the national newspaper was considering erecting a paywall to charge online readers, telling that  "no plan exists" for the Gannett Co.-owned flagship daily to charge digital readers.

Paywalls already are in place at national dailies, The New York Times and Wall St. Journal, not to mention Gannett's 80 other daily newspapers (see "TUOL" post 2/23/12). With a combined digital and print readership of 1,674,306 that makes it the nation's third largest newspaper, USA Today suffered a 12 percent drop-off in circulation revenue during the Second Quarter of 2013, according to the Post article.

USA Today is days away from doubling its single-copy price to $2 from $1, the first price hike in six years. The increase, necessitated by sagging circulation and ad revenues, is prompting Gannett to remove many of its iconic white, tv-shaped newspaper boxes. Rather than expect faithful followers to jingle as they walk down the street with a pocketful of quarters, Gannett instead has hammered out deals with Starbucks and the Duane Reade pharmacy chain to serve as outlets where the daily may be purchased.

In an attempt to inject new life into the brand, a section including articles from the Life, Money and News sections of USA Today will begin to appear in Gannett-owned dailies in Indianapolis, Appleton (Wis.), Fort Myers and Rochester. Gannett has dubbed the experiment Project Butterfly for reasons unclear to "TUOL," except perhaps that the insect and the paper weigh about the same nowadays and both are more likely to face a gaining net than net gains.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Indiana University Unveils Proposed Plan to Merge Journalism School

Sample Gates, Indiana University Bloomington, USA
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Trustees of Indiana University at Bloomington will vote next month on a proposed plan to merge the School of Journalism with the Departments of Telecommunications and Communication and Culture, according to the Indiana Daily Student ("IDS").

The 34-page proposal for The Media School released today by Provost Lauren Robel was submitted last December by a committee made up of faculty from the three entities.  The IDS article said the report, not surprisingly, suggests a digital emphasis in the new curriculum. The proposal's timeline indicates the merger would be completed in 2016.
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From Lloyds to Droids

English: The City of London skyline as viewed ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After 279 years, Lloyd's List, which covers the global shipping industry and boasts of being the world's oldest continuously published newspaper, will become digital-only by year's end, according to owner Informa.

Lloyd's List debuted in 1734 as a notice pinned on the wall of a London coffee shop, according to an article in today's The Guardian. The move was dictated by Lloyd's List's smartphone and tablet-carrying readers. In a June survey conducted by the publication, 97 percent preferred digital access to Lloyd's shipping industry news, which effectively sank the print edition.
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Accidental Model Sues Photo Agency

New York Daily News front page on August 9
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A 25-year-old Brooklyn woman last week sued Getty Images photo agency and plans to go after the New York State Division of Human Rights ("DHR") as well regarding a photo of her that appeared in an amNew York ad, according to accounts in The New York Post and New York Daily News.

The photo at issue of Ireland native Avril Nolan, who works in public relations, allegedly appeared two years ago in an online fashion spread. The image by photographer, Jena Cumbo, whom the Daily News article said knows Nolan in passing, wound up in the stable of Getty Images, which sold it to DHR. From there, Nolan's visage wound up in an ad that appeared in the April 3 edition of amNew York, only it was accompanied by the message: "I am positive (+) [and] I have rights."

Problem is that Nolan is not HIV positive and did not sign a release with Cumbo or Getty Images or otherwise give her permission for the photo to be used, according to Nolan's attorney, who is quoted in the Daily News article. That's bad news for Getty, which has been sued for $450,000 in Manhattan Supreme Court by Nolan, and soon will be a headache for DHR, which Nolan's attorney said will be sued for defamation and civil rights violations for creating the impression that Nolan is an HIV victim.

Bloggers and photo editors everywhere are involuntarily shivering a bit. It's serious business when a person depicted in an image taken out of context is cast in a false light.

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Newspaper Guild Accuses Newsweek Owner of Unfair Labor Practices

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Maybe IBT Media, the upstart digital publisher that produces The International Business Times and recently snatched up Newsweek for a song (see "TUOL" post 8/5/13), should take a Dale Carnegie course in how to win friends and influence people.

The ink hasn't dried on the Newsweek acquisition and  Ad Week already is reporting that The Newspaper Guild last week filed an unfair labor practices charge against the new owner. IBT purportedly offered four Newsweek staffers continued employment, but indicated that company policy prohibited their discussing salary with colleagues or criticizing IBT.  The Guild condemned IBT for "illegally muzzling" its workers and alleged the company had violated U.S. labor law.

That determination will be made by the National Labor Relations Board. If the NLRB finds merit in the accusation, it will file a complaint against IBT. According to the Ad Week story, Newsweek only has a staff of 20, down from 150 just three years ago, so there's barely anyone around in the lunch room to whom one could complain about low pay or the boss.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Gitmo Interrogation Pix & Videos Exempt From FOIA Request, NY Fed Judge Rules

Seal of the United States District Court for t...
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In Center for Constitutional Rights v. Department of Defense et al. (Case No. 1:12-cv-00135), United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald last week ruled that photographs and videos concerning interrogations at Guantanamo Bay of alleged "20th hijacker" terrorist Mohammed al-Qahtani  were exempt from having to be produced under a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request by the Center for Constitutional Rights ("CCR") advocacy group.

Judge Buchwald supported the CIA, which had neither confirmed nor denied the existence of photos and videos of the questioning of al-Qahtani over a three-year period from 2002 to 2005 that CCR sought in its FOIA request. Under the Act's [5 U.S.C. sec. 552] Exemption 1, the so-called national security exemption, Judge Buchwald found the release of such material could incite an anti-American reaction and be used as a recruiting tool by America's enemies and to foment violence.

The court concluded the government had satisfied its burden of proof that it was "logical or plausible" that such an adverse occurrence could be triggered by the release of the materials requested by CCR.

Tip of the hat to the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press ( for staying on top of this case.
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UPDATE: 2nd Circ. Sides with Spitzer & Slate in Insurance Broker Libel Claim

, "New York State Attorney General at New...
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Elliot Spitzer, former N.Y. Governor, Attorney General and ersatz CNN talk show host, may not have fared well in his recent attempt to re-enter the public sector as New York City Comptroller, but at least he won't be on the short-end of a defamation suit brought by a former Marsh & McClennan executive thanks to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

A five-page Summary Order decision by a three-judge appellate panel consisting of Justices Denny Chin, John M. Walker and Debra Ann Livingston upheld a ruling by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York that Spitzer and E-zine Slate did not defame William Gilman, former executive marketing director for Marsh & McClennan, in an Aug. 22, 2010 Slate column (see "TUOL" post 8/23/11).

In 2005, Marsh paid $850 million to settle a civil suit brought by the State of New York eight months before Gilman and seven other Marsh execs were indicted on kickback charges and other misdeeds. An editorial in The Wall St. Journal blasted Spitzer for his prosecution, to which he responded with the allegedly defamatory Slate column entitled They Still Don't Get It in which he defended his pursuit of corporate malfeasance by Marsh and the American Insurance Group, Inc.

Gilman's 2008 felony antitrust violation conviction was overturned and subsequently the case against him was dismissed. He then filed a $60 million libel claim against the defendants over statements in the Slate column, including that the critical WSJ editorial "fail[ed] to note the many employees of Marsh who have been convicted and sentenced to jail terms" and "Marsh and its employees pocketed the increased fees and kickbacks."

The trial court ruled against Gilman on his defamation suit and in Gilman v. Spitzer et al. (Case No. 12-cv-4169), the appellate panel agreed that the allegedly offensive statements were too broad and did not harm Gilman's reputation. The Second Circuit noted that by virtue of charges against him being dismissed, Gilman was not harmed by the Slate column reference to Marsh top brass "convicted and sentenced to jail terms" because he was excluded from that group, and that general references to "Marsh and its employees" could not be construed to be about Gilman personally.

For individuals to prevail in so-called group libel claims, the group has to be small enough that the false statement at issue harms the reputation of each of the group's members (hence, one can't defame the U.S. Army), and the allegedly defamatory statement must particularly target the plaintiff. In this instance, Gilman was not identified by name in Spitzer's Slate piece.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

AllThingsD, as in Done, with Dow Jones & Co. Affiliation

Walt Mossberg and Steve Jobs at All Thing Digi...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
AllThingsD (All Things Digital), the six-year-old technology news Web site that was a partnership of Dow Jones & Co. and columnists Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher, is coming to an end, the Wall St. Journal reported this week.

The site, which reviewed new products and reported on the high tech industry, earned high marks under Journal alumna Swisher and Mossberg, who launched a Personal Technology column in 1991. He will depart the Journal at the end of this year, according to the Journal article.

Mossberg & Swisher are looking for another company with which to partner, the Journal reported.
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Ill. Lawyer Not Nonplussed by Bad Google + Review; Sues for Defamation

WBBM & WCFS "NewsRadio 780 and 105.9FM"
 "NewsRadio 780 and 105.9FM" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A disgruntled man who posted a negative review of the attorney and law firm that represented his former spouse in the couple's divorce proceedings is the target of a defamation suit by his ex's attorney, according to reports by the Naperville (Ill.) Patch Web site and WBBM newsradio.

Naperville attorney Paul Nordini and his firm are plaintiffs in the suit against Joseph LaBarre that seeks a $110,000 judgment and an injunction ordering LaBarre's allegedly offensive comments stricken from Google +.  The plaintiffs contend they were defamed by LaBarre's review that cites Nordini's alleged "underhanded and deceitful" manner and refers to Nordini's law firm as "ethically shaky" in its representation of LaBarre's former spouse.

Nordini did not respond to media inquiries regarding the suit, in which he claims LarBarre's harsh review is costing him and his firm $10,000 a month in lost potential business. False statements attacking the reputation of a professional, such as an attorney or doctor, are libelous per se, but Nordini faces an uphill battle. LaBarre's purported comments smack of opinion, which carries First Amendment protection against defamation claims, and Nordini will find little solace in this blog's posts that have reported in recent months on unsuccessful attempts by lawyers and dentists to respond to unflattering  Web site reviews by racing to court (See "TUOL" posts 9/3/13, 4/24/13, 2/11/13). From personal domestic relations practice experience, the staff of "TUOL" would add that disgruntled divorce party is an oxymoron.
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BBC Cost-Cutting Initiative Shutters 75 News Posts

BBC News: The Box
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Seventy-five news posts will be shut down in a cost-savings move by the British Broadcasting Corp as part of its euphemistically named Delivering Quality First initiative, whose goal is to realize savings of 700 million pound ($1,120,879,665), The Guardian reported.

The DQF proposal was unveiled in 2011 (See "TUOL" posts 1/24/11, & 10/7/11) and has caused the BBC (Brits Be Cuttin') to butt heads with the National Union of Journalists, in that the plan calls for shrinking BBC News' workforce by 600 by the 2016-17 financial year, according to The Guardian article.  Over the next year, 17 newsgathering slots are expected to be eliminated, including the Moscow Bureau Editor.

BBC & Current Affairs employ more than 8,000, according to the article.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

UPDATE: 4th Circ. Says Clicking Facebook 'Like' Icon 1st A. Protected Speech

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...
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In an important free speech decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit this week in Bland v. Roberts (Case No. 12-1671) reversed the trial court and found that clicking the thumbs-up Like icon on Facebook constitutes First Amendment-protected speech.

The case involved Hampton (Va.) Sheriff B.J. Roberts who, following his re-election in a hotly contested struggle with challenger Jim Adams, fired Daniel Ray Carter among other deputies who had "Liked" Adams' Facebook page in 2009 (See "TUOL" post 5/1/12). The ousted lawmen sued on the grounds that their First Amendment rights had been trampled, but United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge Raymond Jackson found against them, ruling: "[L]iking a Facebook not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection."

But, according to accounts in The Wall St. Journal, The Volokh Conspiracy blog and elsewhere, the Fourth Circuit begged to differ in its 81-page decision, finding that the deputies' icon-clicking was both pure speech and symbolic speech worthy of First Amendment protection. Liking a candidate's Facebook page, the appellate panel said, "is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech."  Moreover, clicking the thumb icon is symbolic speech in that the actor, through his conduct, is intending to convey a message, and that intended message--Jim Adams would be a good sheriff-- is reasonably understood by the audience.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Penthouse Magazine Goes Bust?; Parent Co. Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Penthouse (magazine)
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Boca Raton, Fla.-based FriendFinder Networks, Inc., the parent company of Penthouse magazine and operator of adult and dating Web sites, yesterday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (In re FriendFinder Networks, Inc., Case No. 13-12405).

The former Penthouse Media Group, which changed its name to FriendFinder and became a publicly traded company when it purchased Various, Inc. in 2007 from founders Andrew Conru and Lars Mapstead, hopes to pare $300 million in secured debt when it emerges from insolvency by January 31, 2014, as a private company if its restructuring plan plays out as intended, according to accounts by The Wall St. Journal and Associated Press.

The Journal reported the company owes $234.3 million to first-lien noteholders and another $320.3 million to non-cash pay second-lien noteholders. Under its proposed Chapter 11 reorganization, about which FriendFinder claims  80 percent of lienholders already are on-board, first-lien holders would swap notes for notes in the same amounts from the post-bankruptcy entity and receive additional cash or notes. Second-lien noteholders would receive "substantially all" the common stock of the post-bankruptcy company and possibly cash, according to the Journal article.

FriendFinder suffered losses of $49.4 million in its last fiscal year as Penthouse demonstrated that even skin magazines have bare-bones advertising revenues. In fact, the company's revenues plunged 10.1 percent compared to a year ago. According to the company's filing, FriendFinder boasts 750,000 subscribers to its more than 8,000 Web sites and employs roughly 435 staffers.

 Besides Penthouse and various adult Web sites, FriendFinder also operates dating sites, including a Christian singles site, Bigchurch, com, the name of which reflects the company's penchant for all things big.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pakistani Party Threatens New York Times With Libel Suit

English: A 4 Megapixel picture of Badshahi Mos...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Former New York Times Pakistan Bureau Chief Declan Walsh and the Gray Lady herself  face a $10 million defamation suit from Pakistan's Muttahida Qaumi Movement party for allegedly sullying the reputation of the faction's leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain, the India Times reported this week.

The party demanded the Times and Walsh apologize for "baseless reporting" about Hussain, who has lived in London since an unsuccessful attempt on his life in Pakistan in 1992. Walsh was expelled from Pakistan in May of this year after the interim government accused him of engaging in "undesirable activities," according to the India Times article.

The article did not include a reaction from Times officials to the defamation claim. The paper may take solace in the SPEECH Act (Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage) [Pub. L. 111-223), which President Obama signed into law in 2010 (See TUOL" post 8/11/10). The measure prevents the enforcement of foreign libel judgments in U.S. courts if they run counter to protections afforded by the First Amendment.
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Monday, September 16, 2013

It Takes a Village (People) to Restore a Copyright

Village People

Count United States District Court for the Southern District of California Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz among the fans of former Village People lead vocalist Victor Willis.

 In a 10-page decision in Scorpio Music S.A. v. Willis (Case No. 11-cv-1557) earlier this month, Judge Moskowitz granted the Village People singer/songsmith's motion to dismiss the complaint by a French music publisher against Willis (he was the "Cowboy," readers--stay with us). During a six-year struggle to recoup an ownership interest in YMCA, In the Navy, Go West and 30 other songs that blared in discotheques three decades ago when the rocking "TUOL" staff still had sideburns, Willis in 2011 served a notice of termination rights on the plaintiff pursuant to a controversial 1978 provision of the U.S. Copyright Act [17 U.S.C. § 203].

Under Section 203, an author who serves notice under certain conditions to terminate the transfer or license of a copyright within a five-year period commencing after 35 years from the date the grant of copyright was executed may recover an ownership interest. Section 203 is applicable to the case because Willis penned the 33 songs in issue after 1978 (the group's signature song, Macho Man, was written before the 1978 Copyright provision took effect, and is not a part of the case).  The Court rejected the favored argument of record companies and music publishers that they, not the composers, own the copyrights in perpetuity because the songs are "works for hire" created by artists who  were employees of the companies.

Scorpio Music is appealing the adverse ruling. Before "Cowboy" Willis rides off into the sunset, he'll also have to deal with French record producer Henri Belolo, a purported co-writer of YMCA and other Village People hits, who is seeking a court determination of his ownership interest, according to an account in The New York Times.  Jacques Morali, who collaborated with Willis on cranking out Village People tunes, died in 1991. If the appellate court upholds the termination of rights, what percentage of revenues and interest Willis would recover would have to be determined.
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Hyperlocal News Losing the Hype? Boston Globe Sheds Half of Your Town Staff

English: Headquarters of The Boston Globe news...
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The Boston Globe found a rich uncle in soon-to-be-boss, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, but that didn't prevent the Web site from axing roughly half the correspondents for the Your Town hyperlocal news sites.

Six correspondents were pink-slipped, Globe Regional Editor David Dahl told the Boston Business Journal last week, though he didn't identify the unlucky correspondents, the towns affected by the move or the savings realized by the cutbacks.  Dahl was quoted as saying the more than 100 Your Town sites covering Boston neighborhoods and suburban communities, as well as 15 Your Campus sites assisted by local colleges, would remain up and running.

Although articles by staff reporters and freelance writers that appear in the Globe's print edition also provide content for Your Town, simple math suggests some communities are going to get short-shrifted by the remaining six or seven correspondents having to cover a broader area. The Globe, which The New York Times is unloading to Henry for $70 million (see "TUOL" post 8/6/13), has a workforce of 1,600, roughly 350 of whom are newsroom staffers, according to the BBJ article.

The five-year-old, advertising-starved Your Town experiment began inauspiciously when GateHouse Media Inc. sued the Times, alleging copyright infringement concerning content from its Wicked Local hyperlocal news sites. Given the massive staff reduction last month by AOL Patch (see "TUOL" post 8/19/13) and GateHouse Media's slow dance toward pre-packaged bankruptcy (see "TUOL" post 3/27/13), journalism industry prognosticators, who five years ago considered hyperlocal news the greatest thing since sliced bread, may be looking for new sources of "bread."

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Facebook's Privacy Policy Revisions Catch FTC's Attention

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Facebook, Inc.'s privacy policy revisions, unveiled August 29, have drawn interest from the Federal Trade Commission, which seeks to ensure the so-called Tag Suggest function doesn't run afoul of a 2011 agreement in which the social media colossus agreed to government oversight of its privacy practices, according to an article by Reuters.

How Facebook advertisers and third-party applications handle users' personal data was the subject of a Facebook post on August 29. Among the proposed changes was the introduction of a potential Tag Suggest feature that makes use of facial recognition technology to match faces in images with public profile features, Reuters reported.

Having just agreed to fork over $20 million to settle the Sponsored Stories controversy (See "TUOL" post 8/30/12 for background), Facebook doesn't need the FTC "poking" around, so to speak.
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Maxim Mum on Sale Price in Darden Media Group Acquisition

Maxim (magazine)
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Alpha Media Group has unloaded Maxim Magazine to the Darden Media Group ("DMG") for an undisclosed purchase price, Ad Week reported today.

In the deal, Darden will take over the two-million circulation periodical, its 15 international versions and digital extensions, according to Ad Week. The 18-year-old magazine was founded by British publisher Felix Dennis.  DMG reportedly plans to shake-up the one-time cutting-edge men's magazine by expanding the name across radio, cable and music platforms.

DMG is headed up by Cal Darden Sr., a former executive for United Parcel Service, so he knows a hot package when he sees one. Guess that means Maxim won't be running a Girls of Federal Express pictorial anytime soon.
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NPR Offering Buyouts; Hopes to Reduce Staff by 10 Percent

Logo used during 1970s
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In a closed board meeting yesterday, NPR tackled an anticipated $6.1 million operating deficit for the coming fiscal year by agreeing to offer buyouts in hopes of reducing its workforce by 10 percent.

The Washington Post reported today that 80 to 84 employees would be cut loose from NPR's 840-member staff if the buyouts work as intended. The NPR board also named former SEC attorney Paul G. Haaga, Jr., a member of NPR's board since 2011, its interim CEO, replacing Gary Knell, who is departing in November to take the helm of the National Geographic Society.

The 10 percent staff reduction is one of the largest in NPR's history, according to the Post article.  The astute "TUOL" staff suspected something was amiss when it noticed NPR's giveaway tote bags seemed smaller.

Perhaps the company can hit up its favorite philanthropist, Hugh R. Lisnerz, for some money.
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

UPDATE: Senate Judiciary Panel Approves Shield Law By 13-5 Vote; Full Senate to Decide

Dianne Feinstein, member of the United States ...
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The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 13-5 in favor of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 (S. 987), setting the stage for a full Senate vote on a federal shield law to protect journalists' confidential sources and information.

According to accounts in The Washington Post and Huffington Post, the Committee, which was unable reach a consensus on the bill before summer recess (See "TUOL" post 8/2/13), found a compromise between Sen. Charles Schumer's (D.-N.Y.) broad definition of a journalist and Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D.-Calif.) narrow interpretation of who should be protected by the federal shield law.

The measure sent to the full Senate covers student journalists and "persons whom a federal judge has decided should be able to avail him or herself of the protections of the privilege, consistent with the interests of justice and the protection of lawful and legitimate newsgathering activities."  Groups such as Wikileaks, would not be shielded under the law.

The measure embraces journalists who had an "employment relationship" for one year within the past 20 years, or three months within the past five years, as well as someone with a "substantial track record" of freelance writing in the past five years. If enacted, the law would not provide an absolute privilege to journalists from having to disclose confidential information in all instances.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Class Action Privacy Suit Against Google Street View Given Go-Ahead by 9th Circ.

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A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a motion to dismiss a class-action invasion of privacy suit brought against San Francisco-based Google, Inc., concerning Street View.

In its 35-page decision in Joffe, et al. v. Google, Inc. (Case No. 11-17483), the appellate court shot down Google's claim that Street View's accumulation of data was protected by an exception to the Wiretap Act [18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-2522]. "Surely," wrote 9th Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, "Congress did not intend to condone such an intrusive and unwarranted invasion of privacy when it enacted the Wiretap Act." 

The six-year-old Street View was supposed to supplement Google Maps by offering users images of locations, but Google's vehicles wound up in a ditch when its Wi-Fi antennas captured emails, user names, passwords and other documents from unencrypted wireless networks of businesses and residences.  The company settled a lawsuit with the Attorneys General of 38 states arising from the Street View transgression last March (see "TUOL" post 3/13/13) by agreeing to pay a $7 million fine.

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Free Speech Advocates on Edge Over Punitive Grenada Media Law

St. George's, Grenada, 2000
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The Parliament of Grenada, the Caribbean nation and largest island of the Grenadines, has passed a punitive social media measure that has drawn fire from free press proponents, The Guardian reported this week.

The new law carries one-year jail terms for violators who make "offensive" comments, or send tweets or emails on social media platforms and media Web sites, according to the Guardian article. Knowingly posting false information to cause "annoyance...insult...and ill will" also is prohibited by the new law.

A spokesperson for the International Press Institute voiced concern over the law's criminalizing matters that previously have been handled through civil remedies, and was fearful of the new law's impact on investigative journalism and freedom of speech.
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Miami Herald to Launch Caliente Tabloid This Month

English: Seal of Miami, Florida, United States...
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McClatchy Co.-owned The Miami Herald this month will debut Caliente, a tabloid aimed at the city's substantial Spanish-speaking community.

Initially uncovered by the Random Pixels blog and later reported by The Huffington Post, roughly 70,000 copies of Caliente will be distributed to targeted neighborhoods in Little Havana and Hialeah beginning Sept. 18. Caliente will not be staffed by reporters from either the Miami Herald or its Spanish counterpart, El Nuevo Herald, according to the HuffPo article. The tabloid will include Latin American news, celebrity gossip, sports, horoscopes, articles about telenovelas and, in what already is a lightning rod attracting criticism, a Chica Caliente feature boasting a bikini model.

Ay! Caramba. Maybe the tabloid should be called Sol because it apes Rupert Murdoch's The Sun in its penchant for scantily clad women.

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