Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mass. Judge Won't Toss Internet Defamation Claim Against Florida Man

Keller Williams Realty
Keller Williams Realty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In Taylor et al v. Taylor et al, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Peter B. Krupp allowed an Internet defamation suit brought by Massachusetts realtors against a Florida defendant to go forward, according to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

The plaintiffs, realtors for Keller Williams Realty, allege they were defamed by their Florida-based soon-to-be former daughter in law, who they claim made anti-Semitic posts and accused them of engaging in real estate scams and withholding commissions.

The Florida resident sought to dismiss the Massachusetts suit brought by the plaintiffs on the ground that the Bay State was an improper forum to hear the case, but Judge Krupp disagreed, the Lawyers Weekly article reported. Judge Krupp noted in a brief opinion that the plaintiffs were Mass. residents and that the offending statements were meant to cause harm in Mass. and were made by someone familiar with the plaintiffs' business in Mass.

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What It Means to Lose a Libel Case

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The ramifications of bringing an unsuccessful defamation suit hit home this week for Yasser Abbas as counsel for the media defendant are asking the court for more than $200,000, according to the blog of the Legal Times (

Abbas is appealing the trial court's dismissal of his defamation claim against Foreign Policy magazine regarding a June 2012, article. Abbas is the son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile, Williams & Connolly wants $100,481 in attorneys' fees and counsel for the article's author, Jonathan Schanzer, is seeking $107, 174 for his successful defense, according to Legal Times.
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Closer Opens with a Splash; Will It Sink or Swim?

English: Logo Bauer Media Group
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Hamburg, Germany-based Bauer Media Group is going all-out in its debut of Closer magazine, ordering a print run of two million and an inaugural newsstand price of 25 cents, the New York Post reported today.

The magazine targets the oft-neglected demographic of women aged 40 and older, and will fill its pages with celebrity profiles, health, fashion and diet news, so, no heavy-lifting here. That goes for the premiere issue, featuring Valerie "Rhoda" Harper on the cover, which weighs in at 76 pages, but ominously, only 17 ad pages, according to the Post article.

Future issues (which is not to say that Closer has a solid future) will sell for $3.99 on newsstands, the Post reported. At least it promises to be a Miley Cyrus-free zone.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Richmond Daily Surrenders to Paywall; 'All Access' Comes to Times-Dispatch Tuesday

Richmond Virginia
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Online readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch beginning tomorrow will have limited free viewing as the BH Media Group-owned daily launches All Access, reports.

As with many paywalls, online Times-Dispatch readers will be asked to subscribe once they exceed 20 free articles over a 30-day period, though obits, wire stories, videos, section lead pages and classified ads will not be counted against the 20 freebies, according to

Publisher Tom Silvestri laid the groundwork for a price hike in 2014. Warren Buffett's BH Media Group acquired the Times-Dispatch from Media General last year (see "TUOL" post 5/17/12), and the billionaire is a big booster of paywalls (not giving stuff away is how he became a billionaire, after all).

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Citizen Journalism Takes a Hit in Denver After Post Layoffs

English: Denver Post building in Denver, Colorado.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
About a third of the staff of YourHub, the citizen journalism oasis of The Denver Post, has been laid off, Editor Greg Moore confirmed.

As reported initially by the blog, the Post is pink-slipping a digital photo editor and five YourHub community managers in a cost-savings move. The Rocky Mountain News launched YourHub in 2005 and shepherded it until 2009.

YourHub will continue on in a more streamlined fashion after the 29 percent reduction in staff, the Post confirmed.
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College Daily Dumps Online Editor for Stealing, Not Sharing, Others' Opinions

English: Grand Junction, Colorado skyline
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Grand Junction based Colorado Mesa Univ.'s student paper, The Criterion, has dismissed its online editor for allegedly committing at least 16 instances of plagiarism from more than 22 publications, reports.

The Criterion's editor-in-chief axed the online editor, who was not identified in the paper's post about the transgressions, and invited readers to report on any additional purported purloining by the online editor. At least the former Criterion staffer, who ought to be re-thinking her career choice about now, infringed on copyrighted material from noteworthy sources, including AP, The Washington Post and The Wall St. Journal.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Xtra! Xtra! Weep All About It: Newspaper Industry to Lose $1b in Ad Revenue in 2013

English: The front view of the USA Today/Ganne...
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The newspaper industry will lose $1 billion in advertising revenue by the time the sun sets on 2013, according to a press release by Gannett Co., the nation's largest newspaper owner.

As reported by The Huffington Post and web sites, the industry expects to earn $1.18 billion less in ad revenues this year compared to 2012 numbers. Ad revenues are off 5.9 percent at Gannett, which owns flagship national daily USA Today and 81 other newspapers.

The Newspaper Association of American reports seven consecutive years of declining print advertising in the newspaper industry.
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As the Magazine World (In)terns

The New Yorker
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Magazine monolith Conde Nast is dropping its intern program at the end of this year, according to Women's Wear Daily (

Wary of a rising industry trend and itself mired in two lawsuits brought by two former interns alleging they were paid below minimum wage during their apprenticeships, Conde Nast has opted to discontinue its internship program, the WWD article reports. Lawsuits against the magazine publisher brought by former W intern Lauren Ballinger and one-time New Yorker intern Matthew Lieb are still pending.

Hearst has been sued by a former Harper's Bazaar intern and Fox Searchlight settled a lawsuit brought by two former interns, among other media conglomerates that have operated training programs accused of under-paying interns.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tech Writer Leaves Gray Lady for a Yahoo!

Y from the Yahoo logo
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After 13 years of writing about gadgets and advancements in technology in his wildly popular State of the Art column and Pogue's Posts blog, David Pogue is leaving The New York Times to join Yahoo!, according to articles by the Associated Press and

Pogue will maintain both of those features at Yahoo!, and also will continue to contribute to Nova on PBS, the CBS Morning News and Scientific American magazine. The promise of editorial freedom and the prospect of reaching 800 million readers a month attracted Pogue to Yahoo! AP viewed the move as reflective of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer's master plan to bring higher quality content to the Internet company's Web site.

Bad news for the Gray Lady, which also lost popular statistics wizard and election prognosticator extraordinaire Nate Silver to ESPN last July. Pogue and the Times clashed over the latter's conflict of interest prohibitions and Pogue's lucrative speaking engagements (see "TUOL" post 7/7/11).

According to the Associated Press, Pogue has 1.5 million followers on Twitter, which is only 1,499, 691 more than "TUOL."
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BuzzFeed Adds Investigative Unit to Growing Editorial Team

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award 한국어: 퓰리처상 ...
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Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Mark Schoofs will helm an investigative unit of six reporters hired by BuzzFeed, the social media Web site that editorially tracks viral content, The New York Times reported today.

Schoofs, who garnered the award while at the Wall St. Journal for a series of articles on AIDS in Africa, most recently worked for the nonprofit ProPublica. BuzzFeed upped its editorial workforce to 134, having recently hired an equal number of journalists to report on foreign affairs (see "TUOL" post 5/6/13).
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Supreme Court Takes a Pass on Wisconsin Woman's Privacy Suit Against Google

English: Google Logo officially released on Ma...
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The United States Supreme Court last week denied certiorari in Stayart v. Google, Inc. (Docket No. 12-1417), upholding the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit's dismissal of a Wisconsin woman's invasion of privacy suit against search engine colossus Google, Inc.

Beverly Stayart filed suit against Google, alleging misappropriation (Wis. Stat. 995.50(2)(b)) and invasion of her right to publicity, based on an alleged search engine query that linked her name to Levitra, a PDE5 inhibitor drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. In refusing to hear her appeal, the High Court sided with the Seventh Circuit finding that Google could defend against the bev stayart levitra search result allegation by asserting the public interest and incidental use defenses.

The appellate court  decision noted that Stayart had sued Yahoo! in January 2010, regarding the same search phrase, one month before that result allegedly began appearing in Google searches, as illustrated by the purported April 2010, Google search results appended to her Complaint as exhibits. Essentially, both the trial and appeals courts said Stayart's own actions generated "public interest" because court documents are a matter of public interest and search engines that lead those submitting queries to those documents should be protected by the public interest defense.

Google's successful defense to the misappropriation claim is grounded in Wisconsin's law that requires "a substantial rather than an incidental connection between the use [of a person's name for commercial purposes] and the defendant's commercial purposes." The court said Stayart failed to prove Google's purported efforts to derive revenues through linking her name and levitra was substantial.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Cruz (Out of) Control; FCC in Limbo

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...
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So little time, so much destruction to reap.

Fresh from leading the GOP 16-day government shutdown, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Texas) this week blocked the scheduled Senate vote Wednesday on Democrat Tom Wheeler, President Obama's choice to head the Federal Communications Commission, Reuters wire service reports.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) can force a vote on the nomination if he can muster 60 Senate votes, generally difficult to do, though there is enough bipartisan detestation of Sen. Cruz that it may be possible.  Republican Congressional staffer Michael O'Rielly's FCC commissioner nomination also is awaiting a Senate vote, leaving what is supposed to be the five-member FCC Commission at loose ends.

Acting FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn also has had to contend with all but a couple dozen of the FCC's 1,700 staffers being furloughed during the shutdown, according to the Reuters article. Perhaps the FCC, overseer of the airwaves, was somehow interfering with the voices Sen. Cruz is hearing in his head chanting "President Cruz in 2017."

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Cable News Rivals Compete to Kill-Off Ill Congressman

Co-host of Fox and Friends Gretchen Carlson du...

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Eighty-two-year-old Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), whose 43 years in the House makes him Florida's longest-serving Congressman, is gravely ill at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to an Associated Press report today.

A sad turn of events for Young, who just last week announced his intent to retire from Congress, but not as sad as the fate bestowed on him yesterday, initially by Fox News' Gretchen Carlson on-air, and then via Twitter separately by MSNBC's Frank Thorp and Luke Russert, according to the Politico Web site.

During her afternoon gabfest, Carlson reported a Fox News Alert that Young had died, only to apologize and issue a correction later in the broadcast. Meanwhile, Russert and Thorp each tweeted that Young wouldn't get any older, only to tweet again that their reports of his death, like Mark Twain once said, were greatly exaggerated.

As a long-time member of the House Appropriations Committee, Young oversaw military appropriations. Unfortunately, for him and his loved ones, there is no defense to sloppy journalism. "Get it first, get it fast, and (maybe) get it right," just doesn't have the same ring to it.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Journalism Indignity Goes Global

English: View on Perugia, Italy and the Church...
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Reporters: don't book that flight to Perugia, Italy, after all--the International Journalism Festival scheduled for April 2014, has been canceled on account of no revenues, reports.

The six-year-old IJF, Europe's biggest media event, generated less than $55,000 in revenues last year, most of that from corporate sponsors, according to Poynter. Journalists pay nothing to attend the event, so there is no ticket revenue, according to festival co-founder Christopher Potter. Ironically, the journalism profession also finds itself cash-starved because it gave away its online product for free for too long.

Perugia, the capital of Umbria, is a hub of culture and art and the cuisine is yummy, so if you've already have your plane reservations, it won't be a total loss. But if the IJF is going to be revived, it will need the magic of Harry Potter, not Christopher Potter.
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New York: City May Never Sleep, but Magazine May Come Out Only Bi-weekly

The Empire State Building.
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Flat circulation and dwindling ad revenues may force New York, the weekly magazine that Clay Felker debuted in 1968, to publish only biweekly in 2014, the New York Post reports.

New York CEO Anup Bagaria acknowledged that printing less frequently is one option being weighed. Like much of the industry, New York has been hurt by fewer ad pages in its print edition, suffering a 12 percent drop-off in 2008 from a peak 3,343 ad pages in 2007 and a 27 percent plunge in 2009. Meanwhile, circulation has stagnated at around 400,000 for the print version.

Digital ads account for half the journal's ad revenues, according to the Post article.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

UPDATE: Argentine Supreme Court Decision on Media Law Imminent

Coat of arms of Argentina
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Argentina's Supreme Court is expected to rule within a couple of weeks on the constitutionality of a media law that could break-up the holdings of President Cristina Kirchner's fiercest media critics, The Daily Telegraph reported this week.

Kirchner, 60,currently on the mend from brain surgery, has grappled for four years with media outlets, specifically Grupo Clarin SA, claiming they were complicit in alleged inhumane acts carried out by the military regime that preceded her election.  The media groups, in turn, condemn her government as autocratic and intolerant (see "TUOL" posts 4/4/13/ & 12/10/12).

In the latest phase, media leaders are accusing the government of pressuring retailers not to advertise in the media, which the editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Clarin has resulted in a 70 percent to 80 percent decrease in ad revenues. La Nacion and Perfil reportedly were other news outlets targeted by the boycott, according to the Telegraph article.

The court will be ruling on the legitimacy of the media law's Articles 45 and 48, which would limit cable network ownership and limit "unlawful concentration practices," respectively. It would force Grupo Clarin SA, for example, to lose most of its broadcasting licenses.

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Are Bake Sales Next?

English: Chris Hughes Website
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's come to this: editorial staffers at The New Republic have been selling subscriptions to the liberal periodical to their friends and family members, vying for the chance to win an iPad Mini if they outsold their colleagues.

Forbes Magazine reported today on the intra-office competition, which management labeled a team-building exercise, but there may be something bigger and sadder at work here. Swiss Army knife journalist has entered the lexicon, the Forbes article noted, to describe the role of reporters in today's depleted newsrooms, which includes writing and editing, snapping photos and making videos, recording podcasts and writing code.
A direct plea for financial assistance to readership is gaining traction among publications as advertising revenue evaporates and circulation continues to shrink at most magazines.

The senior editor who bested her co-workers by selling 55 of the 309 special promotional subscriptions sold may have added to her skills set, but it remains to be seen whether TNR, whose circulation has roughly remained in the 50,000 range over the past several years, will benefit in the long run. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes acquired the periodical in 2012 and assumed the role of Editor-in-Chief.

Fund-raising tip to TNR: gift-wrap and restaurant coupons are easier to hawk than magazines.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Suarez Departing PBS NewsHour

Ray Suarez receiving his Distinguished Eagle S...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After 14 years, Ray Suarez, Senior Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, is leaving the program in two weeks, the Maynard Institute ( is reporting.

It's a time of change for the NewsHour, whose founders Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeill are in the process of transferring ownership of the program to WETA-TV in Arlington, Va. The news program made history last month when it named Gwen Ifil and Judy Woodruff co-anchors, the first all-female anchor team on a national newscast. The show has also expanded to a weekend newscast helmed by Hari Sreenivasan.

The 56-year-old Suarez's next move is unclear, though the Maynard Institute article indicated he is weighing academic, print and broadcasting options. Suarez hosted radio's Talk of the Nation before joining the NewsHour.
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Canadians Un-Bundle for Approaching Cable Snap

Forest axis. Note the light-colored prairie in...
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Canadian cable and satellite tv viewers may soon pick and choose which stations to watch without being saddled with bundles of stations of no interest to them, Reuters reports.

Industry Minister James Moore said Canada's Conservative government wants to unbundle tv channels to enable viewers to purchase the particular stations that they want to view. Some satellite and cable tv providers are taking the hint and already are touting "a la carte" pricing, the Reuters article noted.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

(Not Divine) Providence Journal Staffers Accept Buyouts; Layoffs Loom

The Providence Journal / Logo
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A dozen Guild members of the Providence Journal are taking the money and running, but the voluntary buyouts by four newsroom staffers and eight advertising dept. employees are not expected to spare the daily further layoffs, WPRI-TV's blog ( reported.

Among editorial staffers who took the buyout are a religion writer, an investigative/legal reporter and syndicated columnist Froma Harrop, according to WPRI-TV. Declining circulation and Second Quarter ad revenues, which were off 14 percent compared to a year ago, likely means pending newsroom layoffs. Management last month told the Guild they were looking to eliminate 30 jobs.

Over a three-year period from 2008 to 2011, more than 240 jobs were lost at the Journal.
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Beastly Cuts: Troubled Website Dumps Two Dozen Writers & Editors

English: IAC/InterActiveCorp Headquarters Buil...
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Nostalgia isn't  always a good thing, as The Daily Beast staffers will attest, after massive layoffs last week restored the Web site to staff levels five years ago, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter.

Two dozen editors and reporters were sacked, leaving the Beast workforce at approximately 65, reported. Reductions hit bureaus in New York and Washington, D.C. and decimated the Los Angeles staff, which now consists solely of one senior writer.

The Daily Beast, which is owned by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp., is feeling the pain created by the parent company's ill-fated purchase of Newsweek in 2010.
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Fox News Snafu Blames Obama in Fake Muslim Museum Story

Fox News Channel
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Over at Fox News, where anchors and talk show hosts go from zero to full lather in 30 seconds as part of their daily outrage exercise routine, newsie Anna Kooiman was forced to tweet an apology for reporting a false story Sunday about Fox fave President Barack Obama.

With the nation in the throes of a government shutdown, Kooiman reported about President Obama's alleged offer to pay out of his own pocket to keep a Jackson, Miss. museum of Muslim culture open. That "fact" was included in a news item about the Republican National Committee offering to step up to pay to keep the World War II Memorial open so that veterans and others may visit the site that had been closed because of the government shutdown caused by, well...that's not the point.  Kooiman's story, according to accounts by the Media Matters, Gawker and TV Newser Web sites, follows:

"The Republican National Committee is offering to pay for it to keep it open so that the veterans from Honor Flight are going to be able to go to see this because who did it honor? It really doesn't seem fair, especially--and we're going to talk a little bit later in the show too about some things that are continuing to be funded. And President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of Muslim culture out of his own pocket, yet it's the Republican National Committee who's paying for this."

Setting aside for a moment that this spoken passage should be taken out and shot and was purportedly uttered by a professionally trained journalist and not someone whose medications have yet to be adjusted, or that it seems to suggest that President Obama ought to consider personally funding the continued operation of the WWII Memorial, the more immediate problems with the story are:

  1. President Obama made no such offer;
  2. There is no International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Miss.;
  3. If such a museum existed, it wouldn't be government-run; 
  4. The source of the news item was a satirical Web site, The National Report.

Kooiman issued the following contrite tweet: "Just met w producers--I made a mistake yday after receiving flawed research abt a museum possibly closing. My apologies. Won't happen again."

Not a terribly detailed mea culpa, and makes the error-free staff of "TUOL" wonder if Kooiman was using shortcuts to stay within Twitter's140-character limit or believes yday and abt are actual words. What "TUOL" doesn't doubt is that such a gaffe will happen again because many of the Fox staffers, and certainly disciples of Fox News, want such a news story to be true to the point of willing it true, if it isn't. No red flags were raised by the item, because many Fox viewers believe the President is a practicing Muslim anyway.

"We report, you decide," is the motto of Fox News.  Thanks, don't mind if we do.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

News Blogger Lauding Energy Co. 'Juiced' by Utility

English: CPS Energy plant on Calaveras Lake
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Community-owned nonprofit utility CPS Energy can do no wrong in the eyes of Robert Rivard.

In the past year alone, Rivard, one-time news editor of the San Antonio Express-News, creator of the Rivard Report news site and principal of the Arsenal Group public relations consulting firm, has written a dozen articles singing the praise of CPS Energy and its CEO, even as the latter drew flak for alleged expense account indiscretions and the energy provider sparked controversy over a solar power project.

Unfortunately, according to an Express-News article this week, Rivard neglected to mention in his paeans to CPS that the utility paid his Arsenal Group $41,000 last year to assess its public relations strategy and critique its communications department. Not to mention (as Rivard subsequently did) that CPS hired his spouse, a former Business Wire Veep, earlier this year to be its director of integrated communications.

The Express-News article reported that Rivard conceded that it was an oversight not to make a disclosure in the Rivard Report articles that CPS Energy was sweetening his personal pot through their professional relationship.  On the subject of conflicts of interest,"TUOL" can't top the late New York Times columnist and executive editor, A.M. Rosenthal, who once said that personally, he didn't care if  "[y]ou f--- an elephant, so long as you don't cover the circus."

"TUOL" hopes Mr. Rivard finds some utility in Rosenthal's observation.
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cut! (but Don't Print): Paramount Pictures Axing 5 Percent of Workforce

Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, CA
P (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Paramount Pictures, the fifth-oldest surviving movie studio from Hollywood's heyday and a Viacom Intl. Inc. subsidiary, will slash five percent of its 2200-member workforce, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

Roughly 110 positions will be eliminated, according to the AP story, as part of a global reorganization. Paramount CEO Frederick Huntsberry told employees in a memo yesterday that the impact would spread across several departments, including marketing and finance.

A number of successful film series have been cranked out by Paramount over the years, including the Star Trek, Beverly Hills Cop and Shrek franchises, as well as Kung Fu Panda and Friday the 13th.
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Down at the Wire

Reuters Building at Times Square, New York Cit...
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Reuters is slashing five percent of its editorial workforce worldwide, the New York Observer ( reported today.

Coming on the heels of the wire service's decision to abandon consumer facing site Reuters Next after a two-year gestation period, Reuters President and Editor in Chief Stephen Adler said the reduction in force would affect all levels of the news agency, including management.

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