Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No Need to Stay Up Late With Alec Baldwin Anymore; MSNBC Show Cancelled

Alec Baldwin Talks Campaign Finance
(Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)
Paltry ratings, alleged diva-esque behavior and a two-week suspension over a purported homophobic rant against a New York Post photographer has led to MSNBC cancelling the weekly Up Late With Alec Baldwin gabfest after only four episodes, the Post reported yesterday.

Baldwin, whose acting ability on Tina Fey's 30 Rock sitcom and in films such as Glengarry Glen Ross has made him a fan fave of "TUOL," drew only 395,000 viewers for his interview of actress Debra Winger on what proved to be his final MSNBC show after complaints from gay rights advocates and others led MSNBC to suspend him for two weeks after his run-in with the Post photog who was snapping pics of Baldwin's wife and child.

Unnamed sources at MSNBC claimed Baldwin was difficult to work with, and made numerous unreasonable demands, such as his own make-up room. "TUOL" sheds only crocodile tears for MSNBC over the failed Baldwin talk show, because this blog prefers talk show hosts who are journalists discussing matters of substance over infotainment vanity yakfests.
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Geraldo Kicked Off the National Express; Forced to Take the 'Local'

Geraldo Rivera.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cumulus Media, Inc., which has nationally syndicated Geraldo Rivera's radio show since 2012, announced that beginning in January 2014, Rivera will be heard only on 77 WABC Radio in New York City, hosting a new program devoted to social and political issues affecting Gotham, Politico reported this week.

Rivera, who still toils at Fox News, will air 10 a.m. to noon on WABC beginning January 1. The 70-year-old Rivera no longer is a marquis name to a new generation of talk radio shut-ins, lacking the national clout and bombast of a Rush Limbaugh.

Perhaps returning to his New York roots will revive the "good" Geraldo, a Peabody Award-winning journalist/lawyer for ABC News in the early '70s, rather than the "bad" Geraldo fighting with Neo-Nazi skinheads on his tabloid talk show and unveiling debris in Al Capone's vault.
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

GoldieBlox & 3 Little Beasties: Viral Video a Fair Use?

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the eyes of their adoring fans, what can make the 32-year-old Beastie Boys hip-hop band unhip?

How about a copyright infringement war against an educational toy company whose viral video encourages girls to become engineers that is taking shape in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California?

In an eight-page complaint, GoldieBlox, Inc. v. Island Def Jam Music et al (Case No. 3:13-cv-05428), the plaintiff, a San Francisco-based company founded by a Stanford alumna that makes games and toys intended to draw girls to technology and science, seeks injunctive relief and declaratory judgment from the court that a two-minute video that already has drawn more than eight million views is protected by the Fair Use doctrine [17 U.S.C. sec. 107] against a potential copyright infringement claim over the video's parody of a Beastie Boys hit Girls, from its 1986 Licensed to Ill album.

The video at issue depicts girls erecting an elaborate gizmo to the Beastie Boys tune with altered lyrics that include: "Girls to build the spaceship/Girls to code the new app/Girls to grow up knowing/That they can engineer that." The corresponding original lyrics are far less politically correct: "Girls to do the dishes/Girls to clean up my room/Girls to do the laundry/Girls and in the bathroom/Girls, that's all I really want is girls."

The surviving original Beastie Boys are Adam Horovitz ("Ad-Rock") and Michael Diamond ("Mike D"). An original band member, Adam Yauch ("MCA"), succumbed to cancer last year, and a provision of his Will purportedly says the band's music should never be used for purposes of advertising, which could be significant if he solely held the copyright to Girls, according to a Forbes magazine account of the suit.

Horovitz and Diamond sent an open letter to Goldieblox praising the creativity of the video and supporting the notion of attracting girls to science and engineering through construction toys and the like, but pointedly saying the video constituted an advertisement, an affront to their philosopy about commercialism, and more to the point, an alleged infringement of copyright.

The four factors a court weighs in deciding whether the fair use defense should shield an alleged infringer involves looking at the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work (fiction/nonfiction, published/unpublished) the amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole and the potential market for and value of the copyrighted work.

Battle lines already are being drawn, with the First Amendment Internet advocate Electronic Frontier Foundation squarely siding with GoldieBlox. EFF concedes that the viral video's length nearly matches that of the original song, which was both creative and published, though EFF claims the Girls parody is transformative and doesn't harm the value of the copyrighted work, but, rather, sparks debate about sexist stereotypes about girls shying away from becoming engineers.

On the other hand, however noble the intentions and warm & fuzzy the video may be, the underlying hope is that the start-up company, GoldieBlox, will sell its games and toys to the video-loving public at a profit. Stay tuned. Perhaps the Beastie Boys should look to their discography and heed the advice of their 1992 album Check Your Head, or 2011 hit Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win.
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UPDATE: Warner Bros. Staves Off Superman Copyright Challenge

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After a protracted battle between the company that claimed the copyright of Superman against the estates of the creators of the comics superhero that rivaled the epic struggles the Man of Steel fought against criminal mastermind Lex Luthor, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week voted 2-1 in favor of Warner Bros, according to

With Judge Sidney Runyan Thomas dissenting, Judges John Sedwick and Stephen Reinhardt upheld the trial court decision for the entertainment conglomerate against the heirs of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, ruling Warner Bros. is the copyright holder of Superman and his alter ego, intrepid Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent. The case, DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp. et al. (Case No. 12-cv-57245), has been closely watched by the perpetually pre-adolescent staff of this blog (see "TUOL" post 8/17/09).

In a 12-page Memorandum of Law, the appellate court reaffirmed that DC Comics, which is owned by Warner Bros., holds the copyright to Superman, seemingly removing any further obstacles to the studio producing more Superman and Superboy films.

That is, unless, as Superman addicts everywhere know, the decision actually was rendered by the Bizarro-9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Couric Perkily Poised to Jump to Yahoo!

Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia (January ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fresh from luring David Pogue from the New York Times (see "TUOL" post 10/22/13), Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer's latest coup is expected to be formally announced today--Katie Couric will join the Internet Service Provider as its global news anchor, according to the Web site.

Couric is presently wrapping up the second season of her ABC-syndicated talk show, Katie, which she signed onto for a three-year haul in 2012 reportedly for a cool $20 million (see "TUOL" post 6/6/11). Previously, she anchored the CBS Evening News for five years and co-hosted NBC's Today. "Katie" is sagging in the ratings but is still among the highest for syndicated programs.

She is expected to conduct online interviews of prominent politicians, celebrities and business leaders forYahoo! The ISP already is the online news partner of ABC News. "Katie's Take," already is featured on Yahoo! and features re-jiggered content from her talk show.

ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., reportedly holds rights to Couric's digital outpouring for the life of the three-year contract, which is probably among the many "t's & i's" being crossed and dotted in preparation for today's formal announcement.

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UPDATE: Freelance Photog Wins $1.2m in Copyright Infringement Case

Parisian headquarters of Agence France-Presse
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A federal jury last Friday in the case of Agence France Presse et al. v. Morel (Case No. 10-cv-02730) awarded Haitian-born freelance photographer Daniel Morel $1.2 million damages in his copyright infringement suit against Agence France Presse and Getty Images, reported.

Morel had alleged that the defendants used without permission photos he had taken and posted on Twitter depicting devastation to his homeland after a 2010 earthquake. U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan last January granted, in part, a summary judgment motion in Morel's favor on his claim that Twitter's terms of service did not grant a license to the defendants to reproduce his images without his permission (see "TUOL" post 1/16/13).

Getty Images had distributed Morel's photos to numerous subscribers, including The Washington Post.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

News Photogs Snap Over Exclusion From White House Photo Ops

English: Jay Carney giving a press briefing.
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The news media's and the Obama Administration's tenuous relationship has taken a turn for the worse as 38 news organizations, ranging from the New York Times and the major networks to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, fired off a letter to Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney objecting to photojournalists being excluded from numerous White House events.

According to accounts by Reuters and the Washington Post, the press members are upset that news photographers have been barred from snapping pictures at "private" events where the White House subsequently releases its own photos through the social media, generally taken by Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza (full disclosure: the photo-lovin' staff of "TUOL" last month attended an event honoring Souza at Boston University's College of Communication, from which Souza and "TUOL" both graduated).

The press corps cited a half-dozen events, including President Obama being photographed sitting in the same bus as civil rights heroine Rosa Parks rode in 1955 and the President sitting in the same jail cell once occupied by Nelson Mandela, that were newsworthy but photographed only by the White House's own photographer.

Whereas the White House considers the photos generated by Souza and other White House photographers as extending to the public access to the president's activities, those who sent Carney the letter dismiss them as "visual press releases."

With the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing NSA spying disclosures, the Obama Administration doesn't need to erode further its shaky relationship to the press by reserving to itself the decision as to what constitutes news versus an Obama family "Kodak moment."

UPDATE (11/26/13): USA Today and the Tacoma News Tribune today said they no longer will accept for publication photos provided by the White House for events that the news outlets believe should have been accessible to the press.
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Digital Newspapers Don't Have a Monopoly on Paywalls

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ABC Cincinnati affiliate WCPO-TV, the flagship station of E.W.Scripps Co., will erect a paywall in 2014 for its online content, according to cites a NetNewsCheck post indicating WCPO has boosted its digital reporting presence by adding 30 editorial staffers. E.W. Scripps announced last year plans to erect paywalls for its newspaper holdings, which number 14. Overall, roughly 41 percent of the nation's daily newspapers have paywalls, according to Digital First Media.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Google Launches 'Newsstand' Android Reading App

Image representing GigaOm as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
Mix Google Play magazine store with the two-year-old Currents magazine app, stir gently, and you get Google's Newsstand Android reading app that supports publications' paywalls, the Web site reported.

The Google app launch will offer more than 1,900 free and subscription-based content sources, including paywall publications The New York Times, Financial Times and Wall St. Journal, according to the post. Present Currents and Google magazine users will have to upgrade their apps to benefit from Newsstand.

The move is intended seriously to challenge Apple's mobile magazine and newspaper store, reported.
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Tribune Co. Slashing Workforce by 6 Percent

Deutsch: Logo der Los Angeles Times
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Los Angeles Times today reported that its parent, Chicago-based Tribune Co., is pink-slipping 6 percent of its workforce, 700 jobs, over the next year to offset plunging advertising revenues among its eight-newspapers.

As part of the cost-savings, the Times article said functions, such as advertising and circulation, will be centralized and consolidated, rather than managed at each individual newspaper. The Tribune Co. has been shopping its newspaper holdings, which include the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Baltimore Sun and flagship Chicago Tribune, as it shifts its emphasis to its broadcasting stable(see "TUOL" posts 9/27/13 & 7/10/13).

The Times article said most of the layoffs will involve non-editorial positions. The planned reductions are a response to print revenues that dropped almost $200 million over the past two years and are down $62 million over the first three-quarters of 2013, according to the Times article.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gitmo Hearings Behind Closed Doors

English: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Aug. 13, 2004) ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The inaugural Periodic Review Board ("PRB") hearing of Guantanamo Bay detainee Mahmud al Mujahid, 33, scheduled for today excludes the press and will be conducted beyond closed doors, the Web site reports.

President Barack Obama established the PRB via an executive order in 2011 whose aim is to review the status of certain detainees at Guantanamo Bay to gauge whether continued incarceration is warranted in the interest of national security. The Dept. of Defense has indicated 71 detainees are in line for a PRB hearing to determine whether transfer or release may be allowed.

The decision to bar the press and public from the proceedings is a tone-deaf one for an administration that could only benefit from the transparency to which it often pays lip service.  The framers of the U.S. Constitution recognized in the Sixth Amendment the importance of public trials. At the very least, it should be incumbent on government attorneys to meet the burden of proving that the Constitution does not apply to the PRB hearings.

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Malcolm X Heirs Sue to Halt Publication of Diary

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X meet bef...
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In X Legacy, LLC v. Third World Press (Case No. 1:13-cv-07984), a copyright infringement suit filed earlier this month, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Laura Taylor Swain has been asked to enjoin publication of the diaries of  Malcolm X by an Illinois-based publisher.

Diaries, photographs and other papers of Malcolm X, a Muslim minister and civil rights advocate who was 39 when he was assassinated in 1965, were donated by his heirs in 2003 to the Schomburg Center for Research of Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library, according to the 10-page complaint. The complaint alleges copyright infringement in that Third World Press purportedly plans to publish all, or a portion of Malcolm X's diaries this month without his family's permission.

Complicating matters, according to a post by the JD legal web site, is that one of Malcolm X's daughters is serving as editor of the project for Third World Press.  "TUOL" has not seen the loan agreement between the heirs and the Schomburg Center, but  donating materials in and of itself does not transfer copyright ownership.

The defendant has yet to articulate its position regarding why it believes it can publish and distribute the diaries without running afoul of Title 17 of the U.S. Code.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Salt Lake Trib Bucks Parent Co.; Remains 'Freebie' to Online Readers

An article from the Nov. 26, 1892 issue of the...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Digital First Media-owned Salt Lake Tribune, for now, will not follow the path of the other dailies in the media conglomerate's holding by erecting a paywall for readers of its online edition, reported.

The Tribune's managing editor told Poynter that competition in the market from media outlets that offer free online access to news figured in the paper's decision to hold off on establishing a paywall. The Deseret News, which also covers Salt Lake City, does not have a paywall.
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'Money Honey to Become Fox 'Fox'?

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 25JAN07 - Maria Bartiromo, ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After a 20-year run at CNBC, two-time Emmy winning business reporter Maria Bartiromo is leaving to join Fox Business Network ("FBN").

Credit the Drudge Report with the scoop on the departure of Bartiromo, one of CNBC's breakout stars, who acquired the sobriquet "Money Honey" in a career that also has included a stint at CNN, writing columns for USA Today and authoring three books. The 46-year-old Bartiromo will gain exposure reporting on Fox News, as well as FBN.

Among advertisers' favorite demographic group, those between the ages of 25 and 54, CNBC draws three times as many viewers as FBN.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Toronto Life Faces Libel Suit from Public University

Logo of The City of Toronto
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Media lawyers are watching with interest as Canada's third-largest university, York University, has served a libel notice on Toronto Life magazine and award-winning writer Katherine Laidlaw, the Toronto Star ( reported last month.

Laidlaw's Fortress York article in Toronto Life's October issue allegedly portrays the public research university's campus as a "hunting ground" for sexual predators, according to the Star article. Although Laidlaw's piece cites the school's bolstering its security force and installing emergency telephones campus-wide in response to a series of sexual assaults, the article purportedly claims that York's female students remain fearful concerning campus security.

University President Mamdouh Shoukri blasted the Toronto Life article for presenting a distorted view of campus safety. York sent libel notices to the magazine and Laidlaw last month, a pre-requisite to filing a libel action. The Star article quotes media lawyers and academics who question whether a public institution, such as York, may be a plaintiff in a defamation suit, noting that government entities, such as municipalities, cannot be.

Over the past couple of years, two higher education institutions, Indiana-based Butler University, and Thomas Cooley Law School in Michigan (see "TUOL" posts 4/10/13 & 12/14/12) have sued for libel, but both are privately funded. Not that anyone has asked the occasionally academic staff of "TUOL," but unfettered communication and free thought are supposed to thrive in university settings, so  large public institutions going after journalists seems, at the very least, impolite for Canadians.
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Forbes Courting a Buyer?

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Grappling with declining print revenue, Forbes Media LLC has put itself up for sale, reportedly seeking a $400 million to $500 million ticket price, according to Ad Week.

With Publishers Information Bureau figures showing a 7.5 percent decline in print ad revenues over the first three quarters of 2013 compared to year-ago numbers, Forbes has lined up the Deutsche Bank to explore a sale. The esteemed business journal was established in 1917 by B.C. Forbes and remained the sole property of the Forbes family until Elevation Partners, a private equity firm, became a minority partner in 2006.

Since then, Forbes defaulted on a $90 million credit line, necessitating the sale of private family assets, including an island in Fiji, which led to the 2010 ouster of Steve Forbes as CEO and hiring of Mike Perlis, according to the Ad Week article.  Perlis cited comscore worldwide figures that shows unique visitors skyrocketing to 26 million from 12 million over the past three years as an indication that the media company would be attractive to suitors.

The Ad Week article speculated that a private equity firm would be most likely to take the plunge in acquiring Forbes Media LLC. The company has shifted its emphasis to its conference business and online edition, noting that its digital magazine provides more than half of its ad revenue.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

FCC Eases Restrictions on Foreign Ownership of TV & Radio Stations

Seal of the United States Federal Communicatio...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Federal Communications Commission yesterday unanimously signalled a willingness to expand foreign ownership interests in tv and radio outlets, according to articles by the and Web sites.

The Communications Act of 1934 sets a 25 percent cap on foreign ownership of tv and radio stations, but allows the FCC discretion to boost the ownership percentage in certain instances.  The FCC's 5-0 vote yesterday indicated a greater likelihood the agency on a case-by-case basis would relax the 25 percent foreign ownership restriction where it deems to do so would be in the public interest.

Democrat and newly selected FCC Chair Tom Wheeler told the vote will "encourage ownership diversity [and] expand localism."  The broadcasting watchdog's decision "potentially removes obstacles to new capital investment, which will support small business, minority and female broadcast ownership, and spur innovation."

The Coalition of Broadcast Investment was a driving force behind the FCC vote. The FCC already has already permitted higher levels of foreign investment in wireless providers. Foreigners still are not permitted under FCC rules to directly or wholly own broadcast licenses.
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

UPDATE: Google Library Triumphs; Judge Throws the Book at The Authors Guild

English: , judge on the United States District...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Citing the "significant public benefits" Google Books' Library Project provides, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Denny Chin today ended an eight-year battle and dismissed the copyright infringement suit brought by The Authors Guild against Google, Inc.

The case, The Authors Guild et al. v. Google Inc. (Case No. 1:05-cv-08136) was brought by The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers in 2005, alleging the search engine colossus' ambitious project of uploading the collections of the Library of Congress, New York Public Library and several university libraries violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act [Pub. Law 105-304]. Google, which already has scanned more than 20 million books, countered that their actions were protected by the fair use doctrine.

Judge Chin, while conceding Google had not obtained permission from copyright holders before scanning their works, noted the project's value to scholars, the increased access to readers and the enhanced revenue opportunities for authors and publishers as among the benefits Google Books provided that warranted fair use protection. The book scanning process, Judge Chin ruled, was transformational.

The epic struggle between the two sides has been chronicled in this blog (see "TUOL" posts 7/2/13, 11/16/12, 9/19/12 & 2/19/10) and most recently, included the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversing the trial court last summer by holding the plaintiffs were not entitled to class action status.

According to accounts in the Wall St. Journal Law Blog and THR, Esq. blog, The Authors Guild plans to appeal Judge Chin's decision.

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SF Chronicle Food Section Fold-In: Recipe for Disaster?

Deutsch: Logo des San Francisco Chronicle
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Reports in foodie-centric San Francisco that the award-winning Food section of the Hearst-Corp.-owned San Francisco Chronicle may be folded into a lifestyle section is stirring controversy, according to a report in yesterday's New York Times.

Chronicle Publisher Jeffrey Johnson would not comment in the Times article on reports that the Food section would combine with content from the Home section and be part of a lifestyle section tentatively called Artisan.  The Chronicle, a multiple winner of the James Beard Foundation award for stellar food coverage and perhaps the only daily that sells its own honey and maintains a roof garden and test kitchen in a building separate from the newsroom HQ, may be forced into the move--reportedly, by Feb. 2014-- by declining readership and dwindling ad page revenues.

Newspapers once provided food for thought, but among Chronicle readers, the thoughts are about food.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Down at the Wire

Ernie Pyle, American war reporter who inspired...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 96-year-old E.W. Scripps Co.-owned Scripps Howard News Service, which provides syndicated news stories to newspapers nationwide, is shutting down, Bloomberg News reported today.

The wire service was done in by the same dwindling circulation and plunging advertising sales that has crippled print editions of the newspaper industry. A transition from Scripps Howard clients to the McClatchy-Tribune Information Services is expected to be completed by January 2014.

The Cincinnati-based news service, whose distinguished alumni include famed World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, will eliminate seven wire-related editorial slots in its Washington, D.C. bureau. Like most media companies nowadays, Scripps is shifting its emphasis to its online and television audience.
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Miami Herald Offers Buy Outs

The McClatchy Company
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Full-time copy editors, photographers and columnists at the McClatchy Co.-owned Miami Herald have been offered severance packages if they opt to accept the euphemistic voluntary separation program, according to the Web site.

Herald Executive Editor Mindy Marques sent a memo to qualified Herald staffers that Romanesko obtained. Herald staffers were forced to take an unpaid one-week furlough earlier this year (see "TUOL" post 1/15/13) as the paper grapples with reduced circulation and shrinking ad revenues.
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CNN Snatches Stelter from Gray Lady

Post Production editing offices in Atlanta.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After a six-year stint as media reporter for the New York Times, Brian Stelter will become senior media correspondent for CNN Worldwide and host of Reliable Sources, Politico reported.

Stelter succeeds Howie Kurtz as host of the CNN Sunday morning media critiquefest. The 28 year old is former editor of the blog
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

No Joking--The Onion Going All-Digital

Onions have particularly large cells that are ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After its print edition rolls out in Chicago, Milwaukee and Providence on December 12, satirical  Chicago-based newspaper The Onion will only publish online, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

Founded by two Univ. of Wisconsin students in 1988, The Onion is shedding its skin for an all-digital format because of shriveling print advertising revenue.  The faux-newspaper has ventured into the broadcasting realm recently, with The Onion News Network cable program and the Onion News Empire video pilot that it is developing with Amazon, according to the AP article.

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All-Stock Merger Boosts Media General TV Holdings

Media General-tower-Awendaw-SC
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In a move that will refinance its debt at a lower interest rate and expand its geographical reach in tv stations, Richmond-based Media General Inc. ("MGI") will merge with New Young Broadcasting Holding Co. in an all-stock merger, the Lynchburg News & Advance ( reported yesterday.

The move, which awaits, but is expected to receive, license transfer approval from the FCC, will grow MGI's tv holdings from 18 stations, largely situated in the Southeast U.S., to 31 stations as far away as Lansing, Michigan, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and San Francisco.  Included in the 28 markets MGI will now reach is Richmond's own WRIC-TV.

Once consumated, MGI shareholders will own roughly a third of the combined companies' shares and the privately held New Young Broadcasting investors will own two-thirds of the combined companies. MGI will remain headquartered in Richmond.
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Monday, November 11, 2013

UPDATE: Second Re-Tweeter Pays Up in Lord McAlpine's U.K. Libel Case

English: Alan Davies. Cropped from original.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
British comic Alan Davies is the latest social mediaite to learn the cost of the dark side of retweeting; in this case, 15,000 pounds ($23,976), according to accounts in The Guardian and the media watchdog Web site.

Davies's resolution with Lord McAlpine follows the settlement last month with retweeter Sally Bercow, the spouse of the U.K. House of Commons Speaker. As reported here (see "TUOL" post 11/26/12), the retired British pol Alistair McAlpine, 71, one-time Conservative Party treasurer and confidant of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, settled a libel suit for roughly a combined $500,000 with the BBC and ITV last November.

Steve Messham, who alleged he was molested as a child, purportedly identified his alleged abuser in a photo whom police incorrectly said was McAlpine. Messham later apologized for the misidentification, but the BBC Newsnight program reported an unnamed North Wales politician was accused of pedophilia and the Twittersphere soon was active with posts suggesting that McAlpine was the abuser.

Davies, whom The Guardian reported has more than 400,000 Twitter followers, last year queried who the "Tory paedophile" was and retweeted a response identifying McAlpine. He was sued for libel by McAlpine despite promptly apologizing on Twitter for his posts. Bercow's 56,000 Tweeter followers allegedly received a post from her asking: "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*." McAlpine reportedly donated the settlement from Davies to the Royal Chelsea Hospital, according to The Guardian article.

The U.K. does not have the protection that likely would be accorded retweeters in the U.S. by Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which states: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information contact provider."
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