Category Archives: Murdoch

Gersh eats dog food

What can I say? He’s pushing for another award.

For Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman and Courier-Life editor Vince DiMiceli (seated behind Gersh in the video) the news is born to be hyped. Here’s the Gersh-flavored promo copy that accompanies today’s weekly roundup at BrooklynPaper.com:

The Brooklyn Paper — a garden of earthly delights

Think about what we do for you — we send reporters into movie theaters in hopes that they get bitten by bedbugs; we have columnists who eat dog food; we break news stories like convicts break rocks in the big yard; we fill the pages of our weekly print edition with spirited copy and pictures that will brighten your water-cooler conversations; we report so you can decide. And what do we ask in return? Just click the headline above and start downloading our full print edition — and keep hustlin’, Brooklyn!
Yeah, that’s right. Keep hustlin’ everyone.
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UPDATE 2/18: Gersh disciple Ben Muessig wrote about Gersh’s latest adventure this morning on AOL — “Eating Dog Food: The Future of Journalism?”

Bill O’Reilly to President Obama: “Does it disturb you that so many people hate you?”

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly was relatively civil [by O'Reilly standards] to President Obama during his live 15-minute pre-game one-on-one. But O’Reilly can’t help himself — he was repetitively argumentative, stepping on the President’s responses in what was as much a debate as it was an interview.

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?

Gersh Kuntzman and the future of journalism

Gersh Kuntzman, a standout community editor, was running with a Flip before Al Gore invented the internet (I exaggerate, but so does Gersh — usually to good effect). Any reporter who completes the Graduate School of Journalism that he runs at The Brooklyn Paper can swim with confidence in the uncharted waters of New Media.

Gersh knows that media in the future will not mirror media’s past, and that journalists must adapt or die.

He was my editor when I sold The Brooklyn Paper to a division of NewsCorp in 2009, and he’s continued under the new management to good effect.

Here’s a double scoop sampler, fresh this week, of video a la Gersh

Want more? Here’s Gersh taking a dump for a storycovering snow on a budget; riding a new bike lane, and immodestly accepting the SNA’s Editor of the Year award (start video around 1:17).

Meanwhile, video is just one part of Gersh’s exposition. He’ll rarely pass up an opportunity to personalize a news story (for example, inserting caffeine suppositories; reporting each of the many times his bicycles were stolen, and covering the night he posed nude for an art class of hipsters).

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Gersh would not suggest that he has all of the solutions to Old Media’s woes, and it’s not clear that his formula will pay off in the long run.

But the old prescriptions will no longer work: Readers won’t take the medicine old-line editors would like to continuing doling out, and staff-short newspapers will be unable to fill them in any event.

If newspapers are going to survive in print or online, they’ll need to adapt to the kind playful experimentation that Gersh can’t suppress.

UPDATE: Click to link to followup.

Predicting if Murdoch’s iPad Daily will be the salvation of newspapers is a crapshoot

The board on which the news media plays is constantly moving and the only certainty might be that most newspapers are toast and that whatever we predict today will be history tomorrow.

So it’s curious that Rupert Murdoch — who’s in the process of purposefully eliminating his newspapers’ online audiences — is banking a chunk of NewsCorp’s future on a newspaper, albeit an electronic one.

NewsCorp and Apple are reportedly set to announce details of a jointly developed project — a daily newspaper built expressly for iPad-like devices. No print version, no Web version (but “The Daily,” as it’s being called, is likely to be heavily promoted, and its features teased, on both platforms). NewsCorp is said to have invested $30 million in the launch, and has assembled a staff of 100, including five-star journalists, so that The Daily will feature mostly original content (plus, presumably, at least some Fox video).

With each day’s Daily expected to cost 99 cents at the iTunes store, its sales scheme replicates the single-copy hawking of newspapers on newsstands. The product will publish once a day with just minor refreshing between “press runs” (a departure from the Web’s frenetic minute-by-minute updates).

Mediaphiles should have learned by now not to bet against Murdoch in any game, particularly the newspaper game for which Murdoch has a special fondness, and there are sound arguments on both sides.

In a Mashable post on Sunday, Ben Par asks, “Is Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-Only Newspaper the Future of Journalism?” His conclusion: “Murdoch Gets It”:

While I may not like some of Murdoch’s ideas, (see Murdoch: Take Your Google Ball and Go Home), I give credit where it’s due. Murdoch’s commitment to a digital future for journalism is commendable and forward-thinking. He realizes more than his competitors that the future of news isn’t in propping up print publications, but creating truly immersive digital experiences. He may very well be creating the template that brings other newspapers into a profitable digital age.

Meanwhile, David Carr in today’s NY Times is less enthusiastic:

If you want a good look at the past and future of the News Corporation, compare the Web site of The New York Post — surely one of the ugliest, least functional in the business — with its snappy new iPad app. It’s a charming product, one that well reflects and amplifies the spice and excesses of the mother brand.

The night-and-day bifurcation is understandable given that Mr. Murdoch has never entirely trusted the Web, with its terrible advertising economics and brutal fight for revenue from consumers.

If nothing else, the arrival of The Daily early next year will likely push me into the legions of iPad-totters (while I’m a reasonably early adopter, I try to wait at least until Apple’s first post-launch hardware revision before buying).

Meanwhile, I await speculation on The Daily’s prospective impact on the 2012 elections. FoxNews revolutionized television news and helped set the tone and slant of political discourse for all media; can we expect The Daily — itself a revolutionizing vehicle — to do any less?

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Click here for additional reporting from The Guardian UK.