Friday, February 27, 2009

Joan Voight, February 27, 2009, 9:45 AM
  • Gossip Legend Liz Smith: Goodbye 'NY Post' The Daily Beast

    After more than three decades as a newspaper gossip columnist, Liz Smith was laid off by New York Post editor Col Allan this week. The 86-year-old legend received a letter stating that difficult economic times made it impossible to renew her $125,000 a year contract. Still, Smith is syndicated and writes for wowowow.com and Variety. She talks about her ouster in a Q&A with former columnist Lloyd Grove.

    Smith says she went directly to Post owner Rupert Murdoch to try to keep her job. "I sat down and told him I wasn't ready to quit yet anymore than he's ready to quit. Rupert is a lot younger than I am--I think he may have gotten it--but he said he couldn't overrule Col. Sure, I was making nothing compared to what I'd made in the past, [but] I would've negotiated again with them, I know that times are tough."

    "They say my column appears in 70 newspapers, but I doubt there are 70 papers left in America. I don't want to find out. I love newspapers." As for celebrity gossip, Smith says it has been diminished as the "quality of stardom" has gone down with a proliferation of media outlets. In earlier days, "when you said Clark Gable or Elizabeth Taylor or Katharine Hepburn, you knew exactly who you were talking about, you didn't have to explain them." Read the whole story...

  • Exec Shuffle Hits Arbitron Mediaweek

    Arbitron's new CEO Michael Skarzynski has begun to reorganize the company's executive suite. Two president-level positions were eliminated and one of the two presidents, Owen Charlebois, president of technology, research and development, is exiting the company March 22.

    Pierre Bouvard's position as president of sales and marketing was also eliminated. Bouvard will remain with the company, but with a new title: executive vice president of sales. During the radio ratings firm's fourth- quarter earnings conference call on Feb. 17, Skarzynski advised investors that changes were being considered within the company and that layoffs are a possibility. Read the whole story...

  • Requiem For Newspapers Masks Opportunities Marketwatch

    The threat of extinction of storied titles, such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and San Francisco Chronicle, has cast a pall just when some of the greatest innovations to the news industry are starting to evolve.

    Some say that no online newsroom can be successful without a legacy print organization to feed it. But TheStreet.com, Slate, MSNBC.com, Politico, Bloomberg and Reuters are good examples of award-winning journalism groups not tied to or born from print roots.

    Going forward, the two necessary building blocks of the news business will be content and content delivery. Cable TV, the iPod and iPhone marry a unique delivery system with content that users want, and will pay for if made easy. The problem with newspapers isn't the content, but the delivery. The business side was too slow to adapt. In the future, people aren't going to stop buying cars because Chrysler or GM are gone. They aren't going to stop wanting news, either. Read the whole story...

  • 'Chicago Tribune' Pulls Tower Off The Market Chicago Business

    Tribune Co. hired brokers last summer to sell the landmark Chicago Tribune tower and the Los Angeles Times' headquarters complex, known as Times Mirror Square to raise cash. But the company has scrapped plans to sell the Tribune Tower because of cratering real estate prices and the company's 2008 bankruptcy filing.

    Finding a buyer for the 940,000-square-foot tower in downtown Chicago would be unlikely in a market where no big downtown office building has sold since last July. Tribune's December bankruptcy-protection filing also was a factor in the company's decision because it would have complicated the sales process.

    Even in a good market, it would have been difficult to value the properties. Tribune Tower was completed in 1925 and contains about 526,000 square feet of usable office space. The five-building Times Mirror complex totals about 750,000 square feet and was built between the 1930s and the 1970s. Currently, Tribune is seeking government tenants to lease vacant space in the Times Mirror complex, which is across the street from Los Angeles' city hall. Read the whole story...

  • Reduced Ad Format On 'Chris Isaak' Debut Advertising Age

    A&E Networks' Bio Channel is testing the concept of fewer ads per hour with a new variety show that launched last night. "The Chris Isaak Hour" contains only eight minutes of national advertising, down from 11 in a normal one-hour program. Two of the show's four commercial breaks will be limited to one 60-second advertisement.

    The question is whether networks can make up for a potential loss of ad revenue by getting advertisers to pony up for the opportunity to stand out in a less crowded field. So far Pfizer and Procter & Gamble Co. are among the marketers taking part in A&E's experiment.

    Advertisers greeted a similar venture from Fox with open arms -- and open wallets. So eager were marketers to test out this new method that they paid a premium of 40% to run ads during "Fringe," according to media buyers. Fox is also trying this method with another new program, "Dollhouse," which is produced by Joss Whedon, famous for cable hit "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Read the whole story...