J-notes and such: April 25-29

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

OMG: It’s the Katie Couric gab and speculation fest- MediaBistro.com reports: Katie Couric: I Am Leaving CBS Evening News (People / TV Watch)
After weeks of widespread speculation about her future, Katie Couric is finally ready to go on the record. “I have decided to step down from the CBS Evening News,” Couric tells People exclusively. “I’m really proud of the talented team on the CBS Evening News and the award-winning work we’ve been able to do in the past five years, in addition to the reporting I’ve done for 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning. In making the decision to move on, I know the Evening News will be in great hands, but I am excited about the future.” TVNewser: In the wake of Couric’s announcement that she’ll step down at the completion of her contract in June, Rome Hartman will return to CBS in his former role as executive producer of CBS Evening News, TVNewser has learned. B&C: CBS News is expected to announce Couric’s successor next week, after she anchors the network’s royal wedding coverage in London Friday. 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley is likely to be named to replace her. Business Insider / The Wire: Both CBS and ABC want the services of the star, but they are trying to distance themselves from her in the press. As the front-runner, CBS does not want to look foolish if it loses out on its current anchor, while ABC is hoping to avoid raising expectations. TVNewser: This could get very interesting at ABC News. Diane Sawyer, Couric, and Barbara Walters under the same roof? TVNewser: On their respective newscasts, both Brian Williams and Sawyer made note of Couric’s decision. TVNewser: Couric to PBS’ Tavis Smiley: “While it was such a privilege to sit in that chair that once was occupied by Walter Cronkite…you know…it’s a pretty confining venue.” TheWrap.com / Media Alley: That Couric would decide to make her first official statement on her exodus to People magazine — and not, say, on the CBS Evening News — is telling.

  A hacker stole the names, birth dates and possibly credit-card numbers for 77 million people who play online videogames through Sony Corp.’s PlayStation   The Wall Street Journal reports that in what could rank among the biggest data breaches in history. A week after taking down its PlayStation Network, Sony said its popular online network had been hacked, affecting 77 million users.  Sony, whose gaming network has been offline for six days, disclosed Tuesday that an “illegal and unauthorized intrusion” between April 17 and April 19 resulted in the loss of a significant amount of personal information that could be used in identity theft.

Un-bear-ably bad news story from WJW-TV in Cleveland– Thanks to colleague Rick Alloway for tipping me off to this “so bad it’s actually funny” news story from Fox affiliate WJW-TV in Cleveland, Ohio. That’s just the local news reenacting a bear sighting, so that viewers will know what a bear looks like if it is two-dimensional and has to be held up by the person creeping along behind it. Click below to play.

Keith Olbermann resurfaces in June- Huffington Post reports Keith Olbermann finally announced what his new Current TV show will be called, and when it will air. The new name? “Countdown With Keith Olbermann.” “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Olbermann joked in a video announcement posted to his “Fok News Channel” site on Tuesday morning. Previously, Olbermann would only say that the show would air in “late spring.” In the video, he at last gave a specific date: Monday, June 20, at 8 PM Eastern. Olbermann’s show has been in the works since he abruptly left MSNBC in January.

Speaking of the royal wedding- The See-Through-Dress Incident: Sampling the investigative journalism inspired by Will and Kate’s wedding. Pardon that gagging sound. The broadcast and cable networks are sending more people to cover Will and Kate’s royal hitching than they assigned  to cover Japan’s devastating ( 14,400 are dead and 11,000 are still missing) earthquake and tsunami. Slate.com reports Last night’s edition of

Photo by Mario Testion/Clarence House Press Office via Getty Images

Dateline NBC swanned onto the tube bearing the title “Kate Middleton: Her Royal Journey” and proceeded to devote considerable semi-journalistic energies to telling the story of a young woman from the provinces who will be marrying into a “good” family this Friday. Here was Meredith Vieira on the banks of the Thames, threatening to make her network’s weeklong march down the aisle feel like a monthlong trot through every princess fantasy Western culture has to offer.

(Bulletin: Guard Dismissed After Calling Kate Middleton “Stuck Up Cow” on Facebook)

CNN Presents also dwelt on Kate’s humble origins last night, necessarily so. She is, after all, “a commoner destined to be a queen,” as Soledad O’Brien intoned, in one of many resorts to talking about “fate” and such. But CNN’s stab at treating the royal wedding as a Meaningful Story—as opposed to the highly entertaining meaning-free one that it is—arrived under the title “The Women Who Would Be Queen.” It tasked Soledad O’Brien with teasing out psychodrama, talking over split screens, and drawing as many comparisons between William’s mother and his bride as she could without actively rooting for a ghastly horror to befall the latter.  NBC News Exec: Royal Wedding Is ‘Biggest International Technical Buildout Ever’– The Hollywood Reporter notes: “Yes, we’re moving to London. Where else would you be?” says Chris Hampson, NBC News’ director of international news. “Everybody wants to be here. You can’t sit in New York and tell this story. You have to be right in the thick of it.”

Digital Overload- From the Center for Media Research:
According to new The Digital Lifestyle survey by Magnify.net in April, consumers and web surfers are facing a torrent of data growing faster than ever before. 78% of respondents were Technologies, Journalists, Entrepreneurs, Executives, and Professionals, with 48.5% saying that they where connected to the web: “from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed.”

Connected To The Web
Connecton to the Web (% of Respondents)
Wake up to bed time


9am to  9pm


Most of the work day


Source: Magnify.net, April 2011

64.2% said that the Information coming at them today had grown by more than 50% compared with last year. 72.7% described their data stream as:  “A roaring river”, “a flood”, or a “massive tidal wave.”

People are missing important news, information, and appointments; friendships and family suffer, says the report.

  • 76.7% read email and respond evenings and weekends
  •  43.2% answer texts or emails on date/social occasion
  •  57.4 % never turn off phone
  • 33.0% check email middle of the night
  • 35.2% answer work emails while with children
  • 46.9% unable to answer all email
  • 41.4% miss important news
  • 39.9% ignore family and friends
  • 16.9% miss appointments
  • 62.5% wish they could filter out the flood of data

1Q Reports Show New Year Brings New Earnings Slump For Newspapers  The Poynter Institute- It’s not new, but it’s a slow downward trend leading to the end of newsprint. If 2011 is to be a turnaround year financially for newspapers, business needs to pick up briskly. Returns from the first earnings reports for the first quarter are familiar and distressing — lower revenues driving lower earnings compared with the period a year ago. E&P / NAA: Newspaper publishers drove tremendous traffic to their websites in this year’s first quarter, attracting an average monthly audience of 108.3 million unique visitors — nearly two-thirds (63.9 percent) of all adult Internet users.

Meanwhile- The Incredible Shrinking New York Times (Business Insider / The Wire/MediaBistro)- The New York Times has righted its ship after a near-death experience during the last recession. Thanks to sharp cost-cutting, the company has returned to profitability. And thanks to frantic debt restructuring, the NYT has also removed its creditors’ foot from its throat and bought several more years to figure out a long-term plan. But this happy escape has not alleviated the company’s long-term problem: Its core business, the print newspaper, is shrinking, and its digital business, however successful, cannot replace the lost revenue and profitability of the print business.

Apple & Google Summoned for Senate Hearing on Mobile Privacy- The Mac Observer reports:  Senator Al Franken has convened a Senate hearing on mobile privacy to be held on May 10th, and tops on the list of invitees are Google, maker of the Android operating system, and Apple, maker of the iPhone and iOS. Titled, “Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy,” the hearing was announced as controversy about the ways in which both companies might be collecting data about their users has mounted. Google reportedly collects data from Android-powered smartphones every few seconds, with Android devices transmitting that data back to Google “several times an hour.” That data includes location information for the device, as well as the name, location and signal strength of any nearby WiFi networks. Google has said the information is anonymous, though one researcher said that a unique identifier is gathered and transmitted.Apple told two U.S. Representatives last Summer in a letter that it was collecting data through its iOS devices on WiFi networks for use with location services. In that letter, Apple said that the data was transmitted via WiFi back to Apple once every twelve hours, and that the information was not tied to user (i.e., that it is anonymously collected).

Al Jazeera Journalist, Held At Guantanamo So He Could Be Questioned About Network- The Huffington Post reports: An Al Jazeera journalist was held at Guantanamo Bay for six years partially so he could be interrogated about the network, according to one of the files on the prison released by WikiLeaks and newspapers around the world.  Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese national, became one of the more high-profile detainees held at Guantanamo during his many years of captivity.  Click below to listen to interview

A cameraman for the network, he was captured in Pakistan in late 2001. However, while the classified file released late Sunday says that U.S. authorities thought al-Hajj had Al Qaeda ties, his lawyer has long asserted that al-Hajj’s interrogations were almost exclusively focused on al-Jazeera.  The file says that he is being held in part because the interrogators want to find out more about “the al-Jazeera news network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL.”

The New York Times "Project Cascade" tracks the impact new stories have as they cascade through social networks.

A fascinating glimpse into tracking the flow of a news story (They call it “Project Cascade.” ) being developed by the NY Times. (For more on the group’s doings, check out the series of Nieman Lab videos.) Nieman Journalism Lab writes:

Some of the most exciting work taking place in The New York Times building is being done on the 28th floor, in the paper’s Research and Development Lab. The group serves essentially as a skunkworks project for a news institution that stands to benefit, financially and otherwise, from creative thinking; as Michael Zimbalist, the Times’ vice president of R&D, puts it, the team is “investigating the ideas at the edges of today and thinking about how they’re going to impact business decisions tomorrow.”

Hey Kids, Stop Asking Me to Do Your Homework: LA Times columnist Meghan Daum is sick of ‘entitled’ children who don’t think for themselves: 

Here are excerpts from Meghan Daum’s column — exactly as written — from just a few.

I have to write a paper about your article about Facebook. One thing I don’t understand though is what you think about Facebook. Can you please explain?

Hi, my name is ___ and i am the editor in chief of my school newspaper, and i am having so much trouble writing my column, i was wondering if you had any tips please help …

The teachers write in too.

I have a student, ____, who is writing a reasearch [sic] paper on your artiles She will be sending you three to five questions that she would very much appreciate you answering …

Couric expected to say she’s exiting CBS News this week (NYT / Media Decoder via MediaBistro.com)– This is one of the worst kept secrets in TV news:  This week, Katie Couric is planning to acknowledge one of the worst-kept secrets in television: that she is leaving the CBS Evening News after five years. Then, as soon as she returns from London, where she will be anchoring the network’s coverage of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton Friday, CBS will announce her successor during the first week of May. Let the speculation continue (That’s also been going on for months now) of who Katie’s successor will be.

“Don’t you track me.”  Online Media Daily reports:  The Internet guidelines group World Wide Web Consortium, which helped create standards for HTML, XML and other technologies, is gearing up to tackle online privacy. A W3C committee examining online privacy will meet at Princeton University on Thursday and Friday to discuss some of the key issues raised by proposals for universal do-not-track mechanisms. Topics up for discussion range from fundamental matters like the definition of do-not-track to operational questions like how cookie-based opt-outs can work in conjunction with browser tools to communicate users’ preferences. Almost 60 Web companies, academics and others — including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook — submitted position papers in advance of the conference.  Currently, three major browser developers — Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple — have said they intend to offer a do-not-track header. When activated by users, the header will inform Web sites that users do not wish to be tracked as they surf the Web, but won’t block content.

HOW TO: Find and Land Freelance Work- Good advice from Mashable.com: Though freelance work is plentiful in many areas, especially creative professions like design and writing, actually finding jobs, writing proposals and negotiating with clients often took up more time than the actual work. Based on one free lancers own experience, plus that of three current freelance professionals, this article presents five tips for finding and landing freelance work.

Meanwhile: The New York Times gets faked out by fake Obama Tiger Beat Cover  Mediaite reports: The New York Times admitted that it made the mistake of treating a fake creation from The Onion as something legitimate. Last week the Times printed an article documenting the history of the squeaky-clean teen magazine Tiger Beat, and included a retrospective of past magazine covers. Unfortunately (or humorously depending on one’s perspective), in the collection they also included a parody cover created by The Onion, which featured President Obama.

Hopefully the New York Times won’t fall for this one either: (Click to play) 

Tweet This: Agencies Get 28% of Revenue From Digital: Ad Age reports:   Madison Ave Better Take Note — You Are Digital, or You Are Very, Very Unimportant.  Digital services accounted for an estimated $8.5 billion (28%) of the $30.4 billion in 2010 U.S. revenue generated by the 900-plus advertising and marketing-services agencies that Ad Age analyzed for Agency Report 2011. Digital’s share of agency revenue rose from 25.8% in 2009. In dollar terms, agencies’ digital revenue jumped 16.9% in 2010.

Who’s your daddy? Demand Builds For TV Ad Time  Adweek reports:  When the last trumpet sounds, the Big Five networks will ring up around $9.5 billion in 2011-12 upfront commitments, a remarkable feat considering that: (a) broadcast television is dead; (b) the 30-second spot is dead; and (c) the upfront itself is dead. NOT! On the cable side of the ledger, Adweek reports the national nets are expected to boost their total take by 15.3 percent, landing $9.23 billion in business––on par with the broadcast estimate. If this holds true, cable will also enjoy its most lucrative late-spring sell-off.

Koran-Burning Pastor’s Gun Goes Off Outside Detroit’s WJBK Following Appearance with Muslim Leader– TVSpy reports:  Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones, who gained national notoriety last year for burning a Koran in protest of radical Islam, almost literally shot himself in the foot last Thursday following an appearance with a local Muslim leader on Detroit’s WJBK.  Jones, who had to pass through a metal detector upon entering WJBK’s studios, returned to his car following the taping and a gun, which Jones owns legally, accidentally fired a bullet into the vehicle’s floor. Jones was in the Detroit area for a planned demonstration in front of Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America.

Robert De Niro gets somewhat chatty about his love for the news … and ‘SNL’ The New York Daily News reports: Robert De Niro was willing to give more than one-word responses to NBC News anchor Brian Williams at Saturday’s “Directors Series” talk as part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s opening weekend. “Do you consider yourself an introvert?” Williams asked as one of his lead-in questions.  “I guess I am in some ways and in some ways I’m not,” De Niro mused, not bothering to expand on his cryptic answer.  When asked if he likes rewatching his old movies, De Niro clarified that he doesn’t ever browse through HBO in high hopes of catching himself in a replay of “Taxi Driver” or “Raging Bull.”  “I don’t do that, Brian,” the actor admonished Williams’ eager questioning. “I watch the news and I watch the ‘Today’ show.  I’m very set in my ways.”

Bloomberg News Crew Mistaken for Robbers- KTLA-TV in Los Angeles reports:  A Bloomberg news crew was surrounded by police in Hollywood Thursday after their SUV was mistaken for a vehicle involved in an armed robbery.  The robbery happened in the 8900 block of Shoreham Drive, according to the LAPD. Two male suspects took an ID, a gold watch and a ring from someone on the street. One of the suspects was carrying a semi-automatic handgun, police said.  About an hour after the robbery, an LAPD air unit started following a vehicle that matched the description of the suspect vehicle — a dark-colored Yukon.  Police said it turned out to be the wrong car.

Online video ads come up short in England- WARC reports: Online video advertising is largely failing to make a mark with UK consumers, a study has revealed.  Consultancy Deloitte and research firm YouGov surveyed 2,000 people, asking respondents what types of internet ads exerted the strongest impact on purchase decisions.  Just 17% mentioned pre-roll video clips within their top three on this metric, down from 28% two years ago, and 3% afforded them the highest weight overall.  Scores rose among 14-17 year olds, 22% of which awarded pre-roll a position in the three best-performing kinds of web advertising.  “The group we might expect to be most responsive – teenagers – are only marginally more open to pre-roll,” said Andrew Haughton, a Deloitte media analyst.

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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1 Response to J-notes and such: April 25-29

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