J-notes and such: April 4-10

Some passing notes from the journalism, new media, advertising/PR landscape-

Larry King Returns to TV — as Infomercial Pitchman: Ad Age Daily reports that Larry King is getting back in the endorsement business nationally less than a year after his CNN talk show ended, appearing in an infomercial for BreathGemz breath fresheners alongside his wife, Shawn Southwick, and a recent ad shoot for Walmart. (Click on the photo on the left to watch the commercial)
Mr. King said in an interview he was limited for most of his 25-year career as a CNN talk-show host by restrictions on pitching products by the news network’s hosts. Until the early 1990s, he continued to do radio ads under contracts linked to his radio show, launched in 1978 and syndicated through the Mutual Broadcasting System. CNN ultimately became concerned enough to reach a “suit to suit” deal with Mutual ending his radio ads, he said. So during his quarter century with CNN, Mr. King said he turned down offers to do ads for Bayer aspirin and a Super Bowl ad for American Express.

Later this year he’s beginning a comedy tour, where in some cases he will appear alongside his wife, who will sing during casino appearances. The comedy part, he said, will be a lot more like Billy Crystal’s “700 Sundays” than Charlie Sheen’s recent effort. “I’ve always tried to be funny over the years, working at sales meetings and conventions,” he said, so the routine is already road-tested in a sense.

Where in the World is Matt Lauer going?- Entertainment Tonight reports that Matt Lauer has notified his NBC bosses that he will be resigning from the “Today” show when his contract expires on December 31, 2012.  Could he be thinking about re-teaming with his former “Today” show co-host Katie Couric and his former “Today” show executive producer Jeff Zucker? It has been widely speculated that Couric is expected to leave the “CBS Evening News” and launch her own talk show with Zucker. The “Today” show released a statement Wednesday, saying, “There seems to be an awful lot of speculation around news anchors these days, and it’s not our practice to comment on any of it. Matt Lauer has a long term contract with NBC News and ‘Today.'”

Glenn Beck will end his daily Fox News Channel program- The New York Times Media Decoder reports that a statement did not specify an end date for Mr. Beck’s show, called “Glenn Beck,” which has been telecast at 5 p.m. on Fox News since early 2009.   Beck’s contract with Fox ends in December. The statement said Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, which have clashed over the making of “Glenn Beck,” will “work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties,” the companies said in the statement.

Was there an FBI mole in the hole at ABC News? –The Center for Public Integrity reports on a once-classified FBI memo that reveals that the FBI treated a senior ABC News journalist as a potential confidential informant in the 1990s, pumping the reporter to ascertain the source of a sensational but uncorroborated tip that the network had obtained during its early coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing.  The journalist, whose name is not disclosed in the document labeled “secret,” not only cooperated but provided the identity of a confidential source, according to the FBI memo — a possible breach of journalistic ethics if he or she did not have the source’s permission. According to the report:

  • The ABC employee was assigned a number in the FBI’s informant database, indicating he or she was still being vetted for suitability as a snitch after providing “highly accurate and reliable information in the past” and then revealing information the network had obtained in the hours just after the 1995 terrorist attack by Timothy McVeigh.

Former ABC investigative news producer Christopher Isham, now a vice president and Washington bureau chief for CBS News, issued a statement Tuesday evening denying he ever agreed to be treated as an informant after the blog Gawker speculated he was the journalist mentioned in the FBI memo. FBI officials declined to identify the reporter, but confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that the bureau did in fact treat the reporter as a potential confidential source for a limited period of time as it tried to ascertain the validity of the information suggesting Iraqi involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Tim McGuire, a journalism professor at Arizona State University, believes the fact the reporter was assigned an informant number and had contributed information in the past precludes any argument that he was sharing this information in the public good.  “I mean, he’s not only a rat, he’s a really huge rat” says McGuire. “He’s obviously decided that helping the government on an ongoing basis is more important than being a journalist.”
McGuire also warns that journalists acting as agents can have a harmful — even dangerous — impact on the profession. “We’re all endangered by him playing these silly games,” he says. “I think when you’re an agent for the government, you’re putting your fellow journalists in harm’s way.”

Is your head in the cloud?- A new GfK Business & Technology online survey finds nearly half of consumers are aware of the “cloud,” but only 9%  fully understand it. Cloud computing is used to describe applications and services hosted and run on servers connected to the internet that end users do not have to maintain or support. Consumers are increasingly in need of cloud-based services with data spread across multiple devices, including laptops, cell phones and tablet computers. IMS Research says there will be a greater need for consumers to move their data to cloud-based services as the growth of connected devices is expected to reach 22 billion within the next decade. Concerns among consumers about moving their data to the cloud include:

  • 61% of the consumers surveyed by GfK say that they are concerned about the security of their content if they were to store it in the cloud
  • 47% of consumers surveyed say they would never use the cloud unless they have a simple and easy way to store their content
  • 39% say they are concerned about the ability to play content on different devices from the cloud

Going, going…..

Spin it any way you want- The Associated Press reports Katie Couric is leaving the CBS Evening News Anchor Chair. Couric is leaving her anchor post at CBS Evening News less than five years after becoming the first woman to solely helm a network TV evening newscast.

Jeff Greenfield Leaving CBS News- TVNewser reports that CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield is also leaving the network. In an email to staff Monday night, Greenfield said he will be departing CBS at the end of April.  TVNewserr notes: “It does not sound like the decision to leave was his own, if the email was any indication.”

Meredith Vieira leaving NBC’s Today?TV Guide reports Meredith Vieira is expected to leave NBC’s Today when her current contract expires later this year, according to a source familiar with her plans. The NYT’s / Media Decoder adds: Vieira’s contract ends in September, and she has made no secret that she dislikes the early morning wake-up calls and the stress of the position.

Prince William and Kate Middleton will be showered with attention. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Here Comes the Wedding Hype: How Media Landscape Has Changed Since Diana- Advertising Age reports that in the three decades since the last (big) royal nuptials, Charles and Diana’s July 1981 wedding, U.S. TV households ballooned by more than half, the VCR grew up and fell to the DVR, the web gave us a second screen and mobile devices birthed a third. Secondly, the public appetite for royal weddings is as rabid as ever. “These things are so rare and few and far between, and there’s going to be so much hype, it’s going to be wall-to-wall Will and Kate,” said Brad Adgate, senior VP-research at Horizon Media.  (Of course, not everything is different. It turns out that royal weddings of this magnitude must always be accompanied by that era’s iteration of “Arthur” in movie theaters.)

A screen grab of House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt's Facebook wall on April 1, 2011.


State GOP Leader Apologizes For ‘Pedophile Pimp’ Comment–

Politician Calls Bishop A Pedophile Pimp On FacebookAll Facebook reports Catholic Bishop John McCormack spoke at a the New Hampshire State House rally last Thursday, criticizing the state budget proposed by the House of Representatives.  How did House Majority Leader D.J. Betterncourt react? By insulting the bishop over Facebook. On Friday, Bettencourt sparked a fire when he posted on his personal Facebook page that Bishop McCormack is a “pedophile pimp” with “absolutely no moral credibility to lecture anyone,” according to the Concord Monitor.

William Cronon is a professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Photo: Hilary Fey Cronon

Holding the high ground- The New Yorker’s Anthony Grafton writes about the William Cronon affair in Wisconsin. He notes” “Universities don’t seem to breed much civil courage these days. But the University of Wisconsin is a glorious exception to the rule. When the Republican Party of Wisconsin demanded e-mails sent by and to William Cronon, it was the university—which serves as the official “record holder” for this purpose—rather than the individual professor that had to answer the request. It has now done so, with two lucid documents that show scrupulous concern for the rights of all involved.”

Photo: Good Morning America

Something’s not working here- TV Newser reports that Good Morning America has hit a new low with younger viewers. The first three months of 2011 saw the lowest delivery ever for GMA in the lucrative adults 25-54 demo. Numbers for Q1 2011:

  • Total Viewers: NBC: 5,610,000 / ABC: 4,880,000 / CBS: 2,800,000
    • A25-54 viewers: NBC: 2,600,000 / ABC: 1,860,000 / CBS: 1,200,000

Pardon me ma’am, are these your “first-party software tools?”- Advertising Age is out with its first “Highly Unofficial Glossary of Online Ad Space” terms.  Why? A year ago, it seemed like online advertising was going the way of Wall Street with the emergence of the exchanges, DSPs and SSPs — turning into a sort of obscure acronym soup.  What will 2011 bring? Even more acronyms and fluidity — but all of it focused on data, segmentation, movement, attribution and management. This glossary has everything from advertising option icons to yield optimization.  Better yet, you’ll be so cool if you can speak the online ad space lingo.

OK Journalists- What Is Quality?- SocialTimes says Mitch Gelman, the vice president of quality for local content network Examiner.com, (talk about long titles) released a white paper Tuesday, Identifying Quality Content Online — Efficiently and Effectively. The paper’s goal is to answer the question: How is it possible to identify and promote the best news, information, and advice pieces on sites that empower the general public to contribute?

Burnt Meatloaf- The Toronto Sun reports that Things heated up on “Celebrity Apprentice” when singer Meat Loaf lost his cool on the show. Meat Loaf became infuriated when he accused “Point Break” actor Gary Busey of stealing his art supplies during a group fundraising challenge. Busey described Meat Loaf’s outburst, saying, “Meatloaf excelled to the level of dancing on the rainbow with no fear.” Meat Loaf later apologized to Busey, saying, “I’m so embarrassed by it, and I’m so upset by it. I truly am very sorry.”

Tweeting up and Tweeting down: The Top 25 Newspapers On Twitter- TheWrap.com / Media Alley says At 3,062,437, The New York Times remains the only American newspaper with more than 1 million followers on Twitter.  (Click on the image to the right for the full list.) The Chicago Tribune, at 829,742, is number two, followed by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.  In terms of growth, both the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Newsday more than doubled their follower counts in the five months since the initial list was compiled. (The Chronicle, with 21,075 followers, is up 121.6 percent, Newsday 118 percent.) The Washington Post, with 88 percent growth, added more than 180,000 followers.

7 Ways to Network more Effectively on Twitter- AllTwitter offers this great advice: So you’ve signed up for a Twitter account and started following a few people. You’ve set up your bio and profile picture, customized your background, and you’re tweeting pretty regularly. You’re doing everything right, but you’re not getting the level of engagement you expected. Instead of turning your nose up and figuring that Twitter must really be about sharing what you had for lunch, try these tips to network more effectively.

Cable TV/Internet war spills onto iPad- The New York Times reports that the iPad, which went on sale a year ago, is becoming the latest battleground in a long-running fight over how TV programs will be delivered in the digital age, and who will deliver them. SocialTimes: Pressure from some television content providers forced Time Warner Cable to remove 20 channels from its new TWCable TV iPad in-house-only streaming video app last week. However, less than one day later, it was able to add five different channels to the mix: Bloomberg Television, Sprout, Hallmark Movie Channel, Current TV, and TruTV. Meanwhile, Cablevision entered the fray on Saturday, releasing its own iPad app that carries all TV channels the same way a customer’s cable box does. By Sunday afternoon it was ranked No. 1 among all apps in the entertainment section of Apple’s iPad app store.

And then there’s this- Time Magazine reports Cablevision has launched a new iPad app called Optimum Live TV, which provides subscribers streaming access to around 300 live channels, with an additional 2000 VoD options available.

TV Advertising: “I’m not dead yet.”Adweek reports that rumors of the death of TV advertising have been greatly exaggerated. Researcher eMarketer now predicts that U.S. TV ad spending will account for over 39 percent of all major media spending by advertisers in 2015, fractionally higher than its share this year. EMarketer forecasts that total media spending will hit $174 billion in 2015, up from $155 billion this year. Over the same period, U.S. spending on TV advertising is projected to rise from $61 billion to $68 billion. But what of the great shift to online? Rest assured that will continue apace, with U.S. online ad spending expected to grow pretty spectacularly from $29 billion this year to $46 billion in 2015.

Center For Public Integrity launches investigative journalism website- The New York Times reports the Center for Public Integrity will start a new website on April 12th dedicated to investigative journalism. iWatch News will be updated daily with 10-12 original investigative pieces and aggregated content from other sources. The center will continue to collaborate with other media outlets like NPR, ABC and The New York Times to distribute and produce content.  The center is also experimenting with new revenue models and will sell advertising on the new site. Readers who do not want to see ads will be able to subscribe to a digital edition for tablet computers and smartphones that will be free of advertising, but will cost $50 for a yearly membership.

Rupert Murdoch and Robert Thomson. Photo: Business Insider, the Wire.

Can we talk?- WWD Media / Memo Pad reports, Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson won’t do an interview for a profile about him in this week’s New Yorker. BTW: The article has been put behind the New Yorker’s paywall.  I suppose they expect enough interest in the article that people would be willing to pay for it. The magazine’s media writer, Ken Auletta, also was denied interviews with Rupert Murdoch and Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton.  In a 1995 New Yorker piece, Auletta referred to Murdoch as “coldly amoral” and a publisher who “has rarely elevated taste or journalism.”

Facebook Gets New Friends- The Wall Street Journal reports that more than a dozen firms have emerged to help large companies navigate Facebook Inc.’s advertising system. Facebook said it welcomes the specialized agencies because they bring in new customers and can handle large-scale campaigns.

Brands line up bid to grab Olympics outdoor ad space- Marketing Week reports that the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog), the 2012 organizers, has kicked off an online auction today which will allow brands to bid for media space worth $403 million. The media space will run across 10 cities where events are being held, including London, Cardiff and Birmingham.

About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm a professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
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