Yahoo has fired CEO Carol Bartz, shocking onlookers who had forgotten the company still existed. The news comes on the same day in which TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington may be on the way out the door of his own publication, as parent company AOL considers forcing him out, according to TechCrunch blogger Paris Lemon. Bartz and Arrington once infamously faced off in an interview which dissolved into an exchange of profanities. Neither move should come as a surprise. [Arrington has now been widely reported to be fired by AOL.]
It was a tough week for "social media." Web 2.0 poster boy Kevin Rose resigned from Digg, while Tech Crunch's Sarah Lacy claimed that Digg was altogether dead. Digg remains a large site with prominent backers and the potential to regain relevance in an ever-shifting landscape. But the fact remains: Digg was the most ironic of social media poster childs. For one, as Mike Elgan outlines in his article on ComputerWorld, Digg not only outsourced social to Twitter and Facebook over time, but from the onset it was "anti-blog." This last part isn't immaterial, considering what "social media" actually
On Tuesday, March 31, my daily Web prowl came across the mention of a major story about The New York Times Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. in the upcoming May issue of Vanity Fair.
I hied over to VanityFair.com and found the story, which I downloaded into my archive. The tedious, 11,415-word piece could be compressed into a four-word sentence: “Pinch is a weenie.”
But Pinch is not the story here. While I was at it, I downloaded articles about Rush Limbaugh; hottie cover girl Gisele Bündchen; Christopher Hitchens’ piece on Lebanon; a long story about the rich, conservative and powerful who attend summer blowouts in Northern California’s Bohemian Grove; and James Walcott’s “What’s Wrong with Washington.” I also swiped some terrific illustrations. Whereupon, I went away to ponder my loot—33,339 words plus pictures, the entire worthwhile contents of the issue.
All this was free from Vanity Fair. I paid nothing—nada, zip, niente. Were any advertisers on the scene hoping for a clickthrough? I didn’t notice.
What’s more, this material was in my computer and in my head a good week and a half before the May issue of VF hit the newsstands and two weeks before subscribers received it in their mailboxes. Meanwhile, VF’s insecure publisher and editors are so desperate for affirmation and buzz that they're happy to screw paying customers, causing them to be one-upped at cocktail parties by computer geeks like me.
Which takes us back to the lede from IN THE NEWS elsewhere on this page:
Multiple sources tell us that 20 or more employees were laid off at Condé Nast Digital today.
What’s wrong with this picture?
For some time, I've followed the spate of newspapers planning to fire the Associated Press and getting their news elsewhere, thank you very much. Papers planning to opt out:
Aug. 20, 2008: The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, the Yakima Herald-Republic and The Wenatchee World—all in Washington state—and The Bakersfield Californian.
Aug. 28, 2008: Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Oct. 16, 2008: The Tribune Co. (Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, Red Eye of Chicago, Hartford Courant, the Baltimore Sun, The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. and the Daily Press of Newport News, Va.).
Yes, newspapers are taking a beating as a result of the lousy economy and, more importantly, advertisers migrating from print to digital. "The decline in [the top 25] newspapers' paid circulation is accelerating, according to new statistics today from the Audit Bureau of Circulations" wrote Nat Ives in AdAge.com this morning. "Papers' average weekday paid circulation fell to 38.2 million copies across the six months ending Sept. 30, down 4.64% from the equivalent period a year earlier. That's a faster fall than was seen this time last year, when the audit bureau reported just a 2.6% decline."
But is it smart for a newspaper (or any business for that matter) to commit hara-kiri—disemboweling itself in the scramble for savings?
My wife, Peggy, and I are cable news junkies. We watch network evening news because we've always watched network evening news and it's on when we're making dinner. But it's a dumb habit.
I go back to John Cameron Swayze and the Camel News Caravan-15 minutes of black-and-white news with primitive graphics on NBC at 6 p.m. On Swayze's desk was a Camel cigarette ashtray, so nobody missed who the sponsor was. This was followed by a 15-minute show starring Perry Como and/or Jonathan Winters.
Since then, network news has attained what TV critics call "gravitas," and what I call pomposity.
Fox News with Brit Hume and Shep Smith is a lot faster, a lot more fun and covers many more stories.
But for us, the real action is on cable-a screaming bunch of what Vice President Spiro Agnew called the "nattering nabobs of negativity" endlessly analyzing flyspecks.
The cable news crowd is fun. But in terms of influence on the national scene, cable isn't worth a bucket of warm spit.—
In more jobs than I care to remember, my single objective was efficiency: How could the most value be created for the least cost, and then sold to delighted customers and eager prospects at the highest profit? When I read last week that two Philadelphia TV stations—Fox29 and NBC10—are going to test the possibility of sharing video footage, I was intrigued. The idea that competing news gatherers would pool their resources is a breakthrough! For example, CBS and CNN spend millions of dollars on equipment and personnel gathering news in Iraq, mostly going after the same stories, interviewing the same people and doing stand-up