blog advertising is good for you

Monday, May 19, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres








"Let’s talk about Jill Abramson. Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor to lead the New York Times. Jill Abramson, who took pride in having brought gender parity to the NYT masthead. Jill Abramson, who presided over an enterprise that won Pulitzers and made money. Jill Abramson, who was hit by a truck. Jill Abramson, who was brusque. Jill Abramson, who yesterday was ousted at the New York Times, where she built her name as a smart and tough editor, with deep passion for the instititution and deep appreciation of why it mattered. Plenty has been written about why this happened, and how. We don’t know all the facts, but we do know that a lot of well-sourced reporters are on it. The story is, as they say, developing.But I want to talk about Jill Abramson. Rebecca Traister wrote a typically smart, insightful piece about the stunning swiftness and coldness of Abramson’s ouster and called it 'singularly humiliating.' But 'humiliating' feels like the wrong word.It implies that Abramson, herself, is humiliated. To be honest, the only behavior that struck me as shameful and dodgy here was that of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the paper and chairman of The New York Times Company. Reports are that Abramson refused to resign, so she was fired. Her name was off the masthead mere hours later.In terse remarks to the staff, Sulzberger explained the decision as 'an issue with management in the newsroom.' He did not mention Abramson’s almost two decades at the Times, nor say a gracious word about her Pulitzer-winning, Snowfalling, Margaret-Sullivan-appointing, NYT-masthead-gender-parity-equalizing tenure." (Rachel Sklar)









"This column was scheduled to appear in the next two or three weeks. Then, on Thursday, the thick Innovation report by an ad hoc New Times task force came to the fore. Like many media watchers, I downloaded its 97 pages PDF , printed it (yes) and carefully annotated it. A lot has been written about it and I’m not going to add my own exegesis on top of numerous others. You can look at the always competent viewpoint from Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton who sees The leaked New York Times innovation report as one of the key documents of this media age. (Other good coverage includes Politico and Capital New York — I’m linking to the NYT tag, then you’ll have all the stories pertaining to Jill Abramson’s brutal firing as well). This report is important one for two main reasons: – The New York Times is viewed as one of the few traditional media to have successfully morphed into a spectacular digital machine. This backdrop gives a strong resonance to the report because many news organizations haven’t achieved half of what the NYT did, whether the metric is the performance of its digital subscription model, or its achievements in high-yield advertising – all while keeping its impregnable ability to collect Pulitzer prizes. – We rarely, if ever, see an internal analysis expressed in such bold terms. Usually, to avoid ruffling feathers, such reports are heavily edited – which ends up being the best way to preserve the status quo. Even more, mastheads tend to distance themselves from endorsing conclusions coming from the 'management crowd' – a coldly demeaning phrase. But, it the Times case, the report was expressly endorsed by the top editors (Abramson and her then second-in-command Dean Baquet who now leads the shop.) Let’s then focus back to this column’s original intent: Why reinvent the newspaper, quickly and thoroughly." (Monday Note)













"Back in 2010, before she became executive editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson sent me a handwritten attaboy note about a big story. It still hangs in my cubicle: 'You wrote a story about the trashing of a once great American institution and people never tire of that.' Jill loved juicy stories, the ones full of subtext, intrigue and very high stakes. Now she is right in the middle of one. On Friday, she was on the cover of The New York Post as the deposed editor of The Times, shown in a trucker hat, boxing gloves and T-shirt hitting a heavy bag, a portrait taken from her daughter’s Instagram account that carried that hashtag “pushy.” I have witnessed some fraught moments at The New York Times. Jayson Blair was a friend of mine. I watched Howell Raines fly into a mountain from a very close distance. I saw the newspaper almost tip over when the print business plunged and the company had to borrow money at exorbitant rates from a Mexican billionaire. But none of that was as surreal as what happened last week. When The Times’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., stood up at a hastily called meeting in the soaring open newsroom where we usually gather to celebrate the Pulitzers and said that Jill was out, we all just looked at one another. How did our workplace suddenly become a particularly bloody episode of 'Game of Thrones'? It is one thing to gossip or complain about your boss, but quite another to watch her head get chopped off in the cold light of day. The lack of decorum was stunning. Even though Mr. Sulzberger wanted to effect a smoother transition, Ms. Abramson refused to make nice." (David Carr)







Left, by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images; right, Robert Stolarik/The New York Times.





"Frederick Koch’s Upper East Side townhouse sits on a quiet street off Fifth Avenue, near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is January 2013, and in a little over a week’s time, Frederick’s hard-hat-wearing younger brother will dip a ceremonial shovel into a mound of dirt in front of the museum, officially breaking ground on the David H. Koch Plaza. Frederick, the eldest of the four Koch brothers, has devoted his life to the arts, but it’s David’s name that’s plastered on some of New York’s most prestigious cultural real estate, including the former New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. The world of the Upper East Side elite is a small one, and Frederick and David occasionally bump into each other at galas or charity functions. These short, awkward exchanges (“Oh, hi, Freddie”) are pretty much the extent of their contact. Unlike David, who enjoys the status that comes with his high-profile philanthropy, Frederick conducts his life as if almost striving for obscurity. Thanks to the recent infamy achieved by David and Charles Koch through their sprawling political operation, he is now thought of as one of the “other” Koch brothers (along with another brother, Bill). Frederick, 80, is so private about his affairs that during the 1980s, after underwriting the $2.8 million construction of England’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (in the shell of a fire-ravaged Victorian playhouse), he kept quiet about his gift for several years, as the British press tried to dig up the name of the angel donor. When Frederick’s role was finally revealed, he told the BBC in a rare interview, 'Never ask from where I came, nor what is my rank or name.' He was quoting Lohengrin’s warning to Elsa, when the knight comes to her aid in Wagner’s romantic opera. When Elsa later poses the forbidden question, her savior disappears in a boat pulled by a dove. Built of white marble, Frederick’s seven-story neoclassical townhouse is one of a trio commissioned, in the early 1900s, by dime-store magnate Frank Winfield Woolworth, and designed by Charles Pierrepont Henry Gilbert, one of several architects favored by New York’s industrialists during the Gilded Age." (VF)





"The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the 'full-take audio' of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month.
SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which The Intercept has learned is being used to secretly monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya. But while MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called 'metadata' – information that reveals the time, source, and destination of calls – SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country. All told, the NSA is using MYSTIC to gather personal data on mobile calls placed in countries with a combined population of more than 250 million people. And according to classified documents, the agency is seeking funding to export the sweeping surveillance capability elsewhere. The program raises profound questions about the nature and extent of American surveillance abroad. The U.S. intelligence community routinely justifies its massive spying efforts by citing the threats to national security posed by global terrorism and unpredictable rival nations like Russia and Iran. But the NSA documents indicate that SOMALGET has been deployed in the Bahamas to locate 'international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers' – traditional law-enforcement concerns, but a far cry from derailing terror plots or intercepting weapons of mass destruction." (TheIntercept)


















"This was a quiet weekend for me. Rarely strayed far after the Zabar's run on Friday before the rain. I am finally reading Victoria Wilson’s 'A Life of Barbara Stanwyck; Steel-True 1907 – 1941.' I’d put it off because of its size – it’s 868 pages of prose, not including the appendix, the acknowledgements, the index, etc. It’s a handsome book to begin with. Ms. Wilson’s prose is also encyclopedic when it comes to Stanwyck’s life and world – from birth – the environments, the neighborhoods – she was born in Brooklyn – the theatre world, and New York in the first third of the 20th century. If you like the atmosphere of that kind of American history (and I do), you’ll love this book. The story is full of flavor with details that create a kind of chiaroscuro painted deftly with a soft brush, of our life at that time. Stanwyck’s hardscrabble early years is the story of many a family in the metropolis (and elsewhere) in our history that is now known as American culture. It was being created by refugees of the great European emigration in the latter part of the 19th century. The arts came from across the sea and defined it all for us now. Survival was the story for millions. Stanwyck’s mother died at 41 after getting kicked in her pregnant belly by a drunk getting off a trolley. She lost the child and died. The bereft and troubled husband left. Went to Central America. And the four-year-old girl Ruby Stevens (later Barbara) lost everything and lived. She became an orphan (not technically – she had older siblings), but realistically. Her life was shaped then and there. I’m drawn to this book naturally because I have had a lifelong interest in the profession, the art, the characters and the centers – New York and Hollywood/Los Angeles – its same roots are part of my heritage also." (NYSD)





"A week ago in Key West, on a blustery afternoon, the legendary David Wolkowsky and I were driving past Smathers Beach. Pointing at a writhing palm tree, he said, 'The tree is dancing,' and then he added meditatively, 'Feels like hurrican...e weather.' But no matter as we were off to New York City for David’s party for his great friend author Phyllis Rose and her new book The Shelf, a charming and philosophical book about the myriad treats of reading. The party was slated for Tuesday, and unfortunately so was a rainstorm. Unsurprisingly David’s domicile in Manhattan is glorious. An upper east side penthouse palace of glass and light and witty art, like a Degas with Cubans on horseback, and all surrounded by an extensive roof garden, like being in a summerhouse in the country, except atop a New York City building. One hundred lucky guests filed in and milled around with notables including artist Susan Sugar and author Alison Lurie and crime writer Michael Misha and Babar illustrator (and husband of Phyllis) Laurent de Brunhoff, and of course the eternally glamorous Jean Vanderbilt, the renowned movie critic David Denby (who recommended ‘Belle’- not quite a scoop since he already said so in the New Yorker), fabled feminist Molly Haskell and the amiable crew representing Farrar, Straus and Giroux. I forgot about the rain which seemed to have forgotten about us and never came to spoil what was easily the book party of all times. The party, which started at 6pm, was a sensation and at 10pm when I took my leave, a core throng of guests rocked on." (Christina Oxenberg)

No comments: