Yesterday, the already-shrunken world of media reporting lost its two grandest figures: Jim Romenesko, the quiet man who singlehandedly set the agenda, like a front page editor for all media news (semi-retiring, by choice); and Slate's Jack Shafer—America's most consistently fearless press critic (laid off). Step back. Look around at the smoldering carnage of the media critic landscape. Who's left to carry the "harassing one's own industry colleagues" torch? A brief look, below.
The Wall Street Journal's new glossy quarterly "Modern Wealth "-themed grab for the pocketbooks of the plutocracy-in-waiting is here!!!! And…would you believe that model's "dress" was "designed" by Roland Mouret? Huh. I can think of some Project Runway rejects who might have done it better for cheap?? But, whatever, it's a fine cover, so let's get down to "business": as we've discussed previously, this magazine is a naked appeal to modern wealthy Journal readers to finally take their ad pages home and leave them toiletside. But don't get it twisted! "The eschatological angst that characterizes much of the newspaper industry does not define Dow Jones," said new managing editor Robert Thomson at a press conference this morning.* Meanwhile, silver-dollar-shaped scones and "flights" of three different types of juice (Juice?) were served and Thomson talked lots of schat on their New York Times counterpart T.Oooooh, how snug indeed, that synergistic Commieloving capitalist News Corp embrace! Nah, for real though: Thomson has a right to be legitimately stoked that his newspaper is just now getting into the "read it at home and peruse it in your leisure hours" business because unlike his pals over at the Times he doesn't have to now endure the wrenching financial fallout of non fetish-inclined old people finally discovering Craigslist. But next time you give a press conference, bro, maybe remember that you're talking to the press, as in the "broke-ass former journalists who have to blog this now because yes, that is what it's come to for most of us" and that a lot of them are past the point of "schatenfraude."
Radar runs a tangled tale of the junket to Las Vegas financed by email newsletter Thrillist and the righteous indignation it provoked from media ethics cop Jeff Bercovici. The Portfolio media reporter tried to catch out two reporters for the New York Post invited on the trip; but forgot to mention that one of his own Condé Nast colleagues was also along for the ride.
Jeff Bercovici's deleted blog post on Portfolio.com-on the tussles between fellow Conde Nast writer, Malcolm Gladwell, and the fact-checkers-has reappeared again. Apparently, it wasn't so much censored as benched, pending additional reporting. So, what has Bercovici's additional reporting uncovered? Gladwell, author of anecdotally rich best-sellers such as The Tipping Point, now denies ignoring a fact-checker's warnings at the New Yorker, where he is a contributor. That would be the end of it, except Gladwell's credibility is shot. The pop science writer boasts that he inserts nonsense into articles for his own amusement, but Gladwell is inaccurate even in regard to his inaccuracies. His denial might be a denial; or it could just be another elaborate prank within a prank.
Why oh why did Michael Wolff ever abandon the comfortable world of print journalism to try his luck again at the internet tables? The Vanity Fair columnist, who documented his last business failure in the best-selling Burn Rate, is getting questions about the audience for his internet news venture, Newser. (Answer: actually, not hopeless.) But the new-fangled electronic mail can be so confusing. When briefing a colleague on a response to interrogation by Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici, Wolff made a common mistake: he hit the reply button, rather than forward.
Have you heard of Ron Paul? He is running for president. He has a blimp. He would like to abolish the government and bring back the gold standard. His internet fans are legion, and they are also nuts. Did we mention that they got him a blimp? And whenever Ron Paul is mentioned, on the internet, in just about any capacity, on sites large or small, the Paultards show up en masse to argue in the comments and berate the regulars. Then they spam Digg with it. It's called The Ron Paul Effect. Would you like the hear the headline of the single worst press release of 2008 so far? It is: "MySpace Community Chooses Barack Obama and Ron Paul as Leading Presidential Candidates in Nation's First Presidential Primary." See? And everyone on the internet can play along.
Last night, Mediabistro founder Laurel Touby wonderfully displayed her utter inability to use email. (Once again, we question how this woman founded an internet company and sold it for $23 million.) Rebecca Fox, Mediabistro's managing editor, had sent out an email alert that News Corp. had bought Beliefnet.com. Rebecca did not bcc the email list—and so her boss Laurel replied to all. Which started a most unholy email chain!
The Daily News may not turn a profit this year, according to owner Mort Zuckerman, who told a British Parliamentary group studying the media in September that the news business is "a glorious way to lose money." In fact, in minutes from Zuckerman's meeting with the group obtained by Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici, Zuckerman paints a less than rosy picture of how the News is doing. Circulation figures and ad dollars are down, an advertising office in Detroit has been closed and so have all twelve of U.S. News & World Report's foreign bureaus. The New York Post is a "non-economic competitor," according to Zuckerman, meaning that the Post can afford to undercut the rival News by spreading out any losses around NewsCorp properties, something the smaller News can't do. In fact, Zuckerman's comments to the committee have a distinct smoke signals feel; could he be making overtures to potential buyers out there? Given who pointed out the Portfolio item to us&mdash Mort Zuckerman himself—we're going to go with 'probs.'