Category Archives: Competition

The Last DJ

By Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Think about it.

As we celebrate mediocrity all the boys upstairs want to see
How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free

• • •

Well you can’t turn him into a company man
You can’t turn him into a whore
And the boys upstairs just don’t understand anymore

Well the top brass don’t like him talking so much,
He won’t play what they say to play
And he don’t want to change what don’t need to change

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say, hey hey hey…

And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

Well some folks say they’re gonna hang him so high
You just can’t do what he did
There’re some things you just can’t put in the minds of those kids

As we celebrate mediocrity all the boys upstairs want to see
How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say, hey hey hey…

And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

Well he got him a station down in Mexico
And sometimes it’ll kind of come in
And I’ll bust a move and remember how it was back then

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say, hey hey hey…

And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

Newspaper war in Brooklyn

Who says newspapers are dead?

An old-fashioned newspaper war is expected to get underway any day now in Brooklyn, NY. I’d be remiss in not reporting on it, since I know more than a little about the turf and about the players, having published The Brooklyn Paper (one of the dogs in this fight) for 30 years before selling it to a division of NewsCorp.; some of my crew — including Vince DiMiceli and Gersh Kuntzman — are still at The Paper; my wife Celia is the publisher.

Between 2006 and 2009, Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, which publishes the daily NY Post in Manhattan, acquired a significant number of “outer borough” weeklies.

In Brooklyn, NewsCorp grabbed pretty much everything, leaving only the Home-Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator group and standalones in Brooklyn Heights, Canarsie and Greenpoint.

In the Bronx, NewsCorp took the gritty Bronx Times tabloids (no relation to The Bronx Times online) and left the prestigious Riverdale Press broadsheet for acquisition by Long Island’s Richner brothers (who recently picked up a chain of Philadelphia area weeklies from the ailing Philadelphia Inquirer).

In Queens, NewsCorp scooped up the quality group — Steve Blank’s Times-Ledger — at the same time that it bought the biggest chain in Brooklyn, Cliff Luster’s Courier-Life. But it also left four consequential newspaper groups on the table — Queens Ledger, Queens Courier, Queens Chronicle and Queens Tribune — as well as some standalones like the Wave of Rockaway and Times NewsWeekly of Ridgewood.

Yesterday, the Queens Courier, co-published by the feisty Victoria Schneps and her able son Josh, announced that it bought The Home-Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator. These are legacy titles — the Spector goes back 82 years — that have seen better days (they don’t have a Website of any sort) but are still breathing. The Queens Courier newspapers and Website are very much alive.

The Schneps selected Ken Brown as their Brooklyn editor, and this may add an accelerant to the war’s flames. Ken was the editor at Courier-Life before and after the NewsCorp acquisition; he had worked there for 28 years when he was deposed last year and replaced by Vince and Gersh. Grudge match anyone?

Followup: Gersh an ‘Editor of the Year’—again

Actually, there’s more to it than that.

After we posted yesterday’s item on Gersh Kuntzman’s outstanding editorial leadership, Suburban Newspapers of America announced that is had chosen Kuntzman as “Editor of the Year—Daily, 3rd Place.”

This is especially notable since Gersh’s newspaper is a weekly — but it’s a weekly that operates as a daily by posting nearly all of its content online, on a daily basis, ahead of the print edition.

Kuntzman won SNA’s top “Editor of the Year, 1st Place” prize as a weekly editor in 2008. [He's won lots of other awards as well — and he's happy to tell you about them!]

Meanwhile, SNA chose one of Kuntzman’s reporters — Stephen Brown — as “Journalist of the Year—Weekly, 1st Place.”

Brown was an attentive student at the Graduate School of Journalism that Gersh operates at The Brooklyn Paper (referenced in yesterday’s post). Brown learned so well under Kuntzman that he was hired away by AOL Patch as the editor of one of its Brooklyn editions … where he will be competing with … Kuntzman.

This video features Brown with “Not Gersh Kuntzman” Vince DiMiceli. Gersh was on vacation when it was shot and Vince, who edits the affiliated Courier-Life newspapers, went whole hog filling in. (Vince is a standout in his own right — as newshound, editor, page designer, and news media internet pioneer.) The clip proudly references Gersh’s role in “training the journalists of the future.”

Congratulations!

Groupon, iPad and Twitter: Not so fast!

Alan Mutter has an excellent post in which he seeks to moderate some of the wild projections surrounding Groupon, the iPad and Twitter.

Newspapers and the iPad: Publishers are pleased that the iPad is beloved by “exactly the sort of wealthy, middle-aged men who read newspapers,” says Mutter. Unfortunately, “58% of iPad users think the device is such a good substitute for print that they are ‘very likely’ to cancel their print subscriptions in the next six months… [Meanwhile] newspapers have yet to find a way to extract as much advertising revenue from the digital media as they can from the print product.” Mutter concludes: “An alternative to porting the daily paper to the iPad is to use the platform to develop new and differentiated products to serve new audiences and advertisers.”

Groupon’s problem: “Instead of attracting new long-term customers for merchants, Groupon is bringing in one-time bargain hunters who take the deals and run… Some consumers feel ripped off, too, when they are unable to redeem the prepaid certificates they bought for massages, dinners, classes and other goods and services. In an online survey at HubPages.Com, 44% of consumers called Groupon a ‘scam’ and 28% thought it was ‘very good’. The balance of respondents were neutral.”

Twitter: “Although Twitter will tell you that it has 175 million registered users and investors reportedly deem it to be worth $3.7 billion, fewer than 20 million American adults actually use the service [and while a] quarter of users avidly check for the latest tweets several times each day … a fifth of the registered users never use their accounts after they open them. This indicates that Twitter, at best, may be effective in reaching only the limited cohort of consumers who crave a steady diet of 140-character News McNuggets.”

Read Mutter’s entire post at http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/search?q=Groupon%2C+iPad+and+Twitter%3A+2+much+2+hope+4%3F

Jon Stewart on the Rachel Maddow Show, uncut

An intelligent conversation.

Some rebels just don’t know when they’ve been beaten

The Confederates could have saved themselves a lot of blood and treasure if they’d thrown in the towel before Sherman marched through Atlanta.

Now, the staff of the daily newspaper in Manning, South Carolina — a town with 4,000 people— just won’t quit … well, actually they did quit, to start a competing newspaper. Click here for the story from WLTX.

Eric posted the item on FARK under this headline:

Print journalists quit local paper to create a second print newspaper for town of 4,000. Will presumably branch out and create VHS store and telegraph office next.

For Murdoch, the Wall Street Journal’s New York edition is not just business. It’s personal.

Rupert Murdoch made two things quite clear yesterday: The Wall Street Journal‘s New York edition will launch in April (as long reported but never before publicly confirmed), and its target is the New York Times for reasons as much personal as business.

Murdoch’s made himself the Times’ nemesis, an avenger intent on bringing to it retribution for alleged sins against his sense of journalistic propriety and for slights against the people of its city.

The 78-year-old NewsCorp chief was blunt in comments to the Real Estate Board of New York:

“We believe that in its pursuit of journalism prizes and a national reputation, a certain other New York daily has essentially stopped covering the city the way it once did.

“In so doing, they have mistakenly overlooked the most fascinating city in the world — and left the interests and concerns of people like you far behind them. I promise you this: The Wall Street Journal will not make that mistake.”

Murdoch said the new section “will be full color — and it will be feisty,” declining to elaborate. Published reports have suggested it will be staffed by about 35 journalists and will to some degree be modeled  after Seth Lipsky‘s New York Sun, which ceased publication in September 2008. Some of its key editorial hires are Sun alumni.

Today’s Journal reports that “current plans call for the New York section to be published six days a week and run as the second section of New York-area copies of the newspaper, according to people familiar with the project. The size of the section remains in flux but is expected to be eight to 16 pages a day, these people say. The articles will also run in the online editions.”

Ad Age reported last week that “there are plenty of reasons for the Times to be concerned. They start with Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman. The retailers will each advertise in the Journal’s New York section from the get-go, people close to the situation said.”

The folks Murdoch addressed yesterday — the city’s real estate establishment — are also prime candidates for Journal ads. Many of them like the Journal, have issues with the Times, and have for a while been enamored of the real estate section of the Journal’s sister publication, the NY Post. The Post’s real estate coverage, especially by Rich Calder, is arguably the best in town.

Murdoch said the Journal will be giving the Post “some competition on their home turf,” a productive and potentially lucrative synergy.

In this week’s wide-ranging New York magazine cover story on Murdoch, the chief concedes the obvious — that from a business standpoint NewsCorp’s $5-billion acquisition of the Wall Street Journal two years ago was the worst deal he ever did. “It never made any sense,” New York’s Gabriel Sherman quotes a former senior NewsCorp executive. “He had no justification for why he should buy it — he just wanted it.”

Now, Sherman said, “some see an Ahab-like obsession in Murdoch’s pursuit of the Times.”

During Murdoch’s campaign to buy the Journal, the Times editorialized that it hoped the Journal’s Bancroft family would “find a buyer who is a safer bet to protect the newspaper for its readers.”

Sherman reports:

Murdoch was infuriated by the editorial, which he saw as yet another example, as if more were needed, of the Times’ characteristic self-interest wrapped in a cloak of high-toned moralism.

The previous night, he had run into Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. at a party on Barry Diller’s yacht, and Sulzberger had assured him the piece wasn’t “faintly anti-Murdoch,” as Sarah Ellison reports in her upcoming book, “War at the Wall Street Journal.”

Murdoch wrote Sulzberger a personal note the next morning that concluded: “Let the battle begin!”

The next day, Sulzberger was sitting in his office at the Times Building with Richard Beattie, the chairman of law firm Simpson Thacher, who had advised the Dow Jones board during the Journal deal. Sulzberger pulled out Murdoch’s note.

“He was laughing at the time,” Beattie told me. “He thought it was cute.”

Sulzberger never replied to Murdoch’s letter. When I called Sulzberger to ask about the competition with the Journal, he dismissed my question out of hand: “Whatever,” he said.

Sulzberger is not the first media mogul to have underestimated Rupert Murdoch’s steely determination. At this point, he and his shareholders must realize they have little to laugh about.

—Ed Weintrob