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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Little Of The Old In And Out



In: Paul Kagame. Murdoch's The Wall Street Journal has something of a political man-crush. President Paul Kagame has engineered an astonishing turnaround of Rwanda's economy. He is not, we cannot fail to note, a "small d" democrat. A rival for the Presidency was arrested under dubious -- and eerie -- circumstances. Still, Kagame is something of a Rwandan patriot -- a rarity -- caring more, generally, for the well-being of his people than accruing endless power and turning the countries coffers into his own personal personal pocketbook. That is a phenomenon not only new to Rwanda, but new to the entire region.

And he is everywhere. This weekend he was a featured in -- of all places -- the Wall Street Journal as a "supply sider." Naive, they; Africa's new patriot leaders are nimble, veering, however slightly, so that their backs are facing the direction of the political winds in Washington and nowadays in increasingly influential Beijing. Today Kagame is a supply sider, tomorrow, perhaps he may swing Keynsian. Ultimately, President Kagame will always work in the national interests of Rwanda (and not his bank account), and that, in turn, is a good thing for regional stability, which is in the interests of these United States of America. From The AP:

The tall thin man strode to the stage at the Tribeca Film Festival and fielded a few questions about one of the main subjects of the documentary just screened - himself: Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

The president's star turn Monday night before a chic crowd in lower Manhattan was less surprising considering it was the world premiere of a documentary that portrays Kagame, who is up for re-election in August, in a heroic light. After the 88-minute film, 'Earth Made of Glass,' ended, filmgoers welcomed him with a standing ovation.

'When you want reconciliation and justice at the same time, they tend to conflict,' he replied to one question. 'That's what happens every day in our country.'

Kagame also pledged to continue cooperating with his nation's former sworn enemy, Congo. The two nations teamed up for a joint operation last year against the extremist Rwandan Hutu rebels who fled to eastern Congo, after Kagame's rebel army ended the 1994 genocide.


Again, Kagame is by no means a democrat. There are questions as to when he will actually give up power (as in the case with neighboring Ugandan President Museveni, there are no successors being groomed). He is a patriot, however, who has turned around his country's fragile economic base in an astonishingly short time. It is not inconceivable that a country that has gone through the trauma of a genocide and is ethnically factitious has more of a need of a benevolent authoritarian -- at leats for now -- than a constitutional democracy. The streets are clean; there is freedom of the press; the economy is becoming an African success story.

For that -- however imperfect political reality -- Kagame deserves some credit.



Out: Variety. What were they thinking? I love Variety and I love Peter Bart but -- god bless him -- the man has been late to blogging and late to the new digital realities of media. From our old media haunt, FishbowlNY:

Hollywood trade magazine Variety has seen Web traffic slump by more than 40% since enacting a paywall at the end of 2009, according to Nielsen data published by MediaPost.

The site garnered 3.2 million page views in December, the month it enacted the paywall. Since then, traffic has dropped to 1.9 million page views in March. Unique visitors fell from 745,000 to 609,000 in the same period. Variety charges $250 a year for a print subscription with online access, and the same rate for online access without the paper version.


Even former Fairchild Fashion Group CEO Richard Beckman, now at e5 Global Media runs the Hollywood Reporter, took a swipe, telling theFix: "There has been all these years. But if I’m setting the bar at where Variety is—and this is going to sound really caustic—I’m setting the bar too low." Ouch. Or, as Cinematical's Erik Davis tweeted, "wow, Variety's numbers are pretty low. Who's NOT beating them in page views is a better question ..."



In: Fox. "As usual," begins TVBytheNumbers, "Fox crushed the broadcast primetime competition last week in the adults 18-49 ratings by a wide margin." Fox News Channel is doing just as well in the evenings in all key demos.

And, in closing, the channel's philosophy notwithstanding, FX's "Justified" is one of the coolest new shows ever.

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