On Friday’s episode of weekly podcast Meet the Movie Press, Mashable entertainment editor Josh Dickey told his old pal Jeff Sneider that he had finally come up with a solution for his conflicted feelings about how to cover Furious 7. He would write two, separate standalone reviews: one good, one bad.
Those items have now been posted, without cross-link winks. Beyond readers who see tweets like the one below, or pay close attention to permalinks, there is no real threat to the integrity of Dickey’s pseudo-scientific experiment.
Post-Furious 7 preview screening, Dickey realized there was no point in simply panning the latest dashboard bro’ installment. Thanks to the franchise’s built-in appeal, each film’s ever-earlier “summer movie” release date and the stamp of the late Paul Walker, this thing is going to gargantuan. Domestically, internationally, Web-tastically.
So instead, Dickey will keep a close eye on each side of his Dr. Jaguar and Mr. Honda take, to note which one gets more social media action, comments and so on.
— Mashable (@mashable) March 30, 2015
The most notable media person to make the list was Bloomberg Media chief digital content officer Joshua Topolsky:
A former DJ, the Pittsburgh native was named editor of techie webzine Engadget in 2008, putting him at the center of the schism between old and new media. In 2011, he co-founded The Verge, a tech-news website that launched with 4 million unique viewers—and had gained an additional 10 million by 2014, when its parent company, Vox Media, was valued at more than $200 million. That success caught the attention of Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith, who hired Mr. Topolsky last summer to bring his multiplatform news model to the company.
For the full list, click through.
Sydney-based arts writer Steve Dow starts off his David Byrne interview piece in The Saturday Paper with majesty and erudition:
Ritual fascinates and inspires David Byrne. Reading Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński’s The Emperor, a 1978 account of Haile Selassie’s iron rule in impoverished Ethiopia, he found its descriptions of servitude beautiful. They reminded him of non-naturalistic, avant-garde contemporary performance or East Asian theater, and his own ritualized gestures in pop performance.
It was another, subsequent newspaper article that put Byrne on the trail of Imelda Marcos, who he discovered was not only once a Studio 54 regular but also pals with Andy Warhol. The resulting concept album and musical, Here Lies Love, were done with Fatboy Slim; a run of the show recently ended at New York’s Public Theater and Byrne is now Down Under casting a forthcoming Australian production.
Byrne tells Dow that as far as he knows, Marcos has not seen the musical (it was also staged in London). But a Philippines-born cast member gave the former First Lady a copy of the album, and a Filipino journalist separately played her some of the tracks.
Here Lies Love, which is titled after Imelda’s hoped-for and preferred epitaph, is but one of several esoteric directions recently explored by the now 62-year-old Byrne. Last year, he kicked off the Greek Theatre concert season in Los Angeles with a tribute to one-time Nigerian musical star William Onyeabor.
[Image via: herelieslove.com]
Once you’re in a position to manage people, you quickly realize that the ability to do so effectively requires attentiveness and careful execution. It is also a role that requires balancing polar tendencies: you want to be friendly and approachable, but not so friendly that your staff can walk all over you. And you will drown in work if you don’t delegate, as you will if you micromanage when you do delegate:
Ah, the catch-22 of delegating a task to a team member only to minutely oversee his every mouse click. The three senior managers we talked to each cited it as the No. 1 gripe employees have about their bosses.
And [Allen & Gerritsen EVP Amy] Muntz totally gets it. “I was a complete micromanager when I first started out,” she says. “Like many new managers, I tried to stay on top of every little thing my team did, which was unproductive and exhausting. It eventually led to me having to let go.”
The fact is being a great manager means you are comfortable setting the vision and empowering the talented folks you have on your team, adds Muntz. “The best managers don’t tell others how to do their work; they help create and nurture an environment where their team can do their best work.”
As you struggle internally, you may not be aware of how your actions are perceived externally by staff. We’ve created a list of 10 management mistakes and how to fix them. Do you see yourself in any of them?
For more, read: 10 Toxic Mistakes You Could Be Making As a Boss
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The New York Times has promoted Kinsey Wilson from editor for strategy and innovation to executive vice president, product and technology.
Wilson joined the Times in February. He came to the company from NPR, where he served as executive vice president and chief content officer.
Times CEO Mark Thompson and executive editor Dean Baquet offered the following joint statement on Wilson’s appointment:
The company’s initial plan was to appoint an executive vice president who would work as a partner to Kinsey in his newsroom role. Since early February, though, as Kinsey has become a key contributor and grasped the challenges and opportunities of our digital transformation, we have become convinced that unifying these responsibilities under his leadership makes better sense and offers us an opportunity to accelerate the progress that is already underway. Kinsey is the ideal person for this role. He is a digital visionary with deep roots in journalism and he’s a dynamic leader with a keen understanding of digital products and technology.
In related news, David Perpich has been named senior vice president, product. He was most recently general manager of new digital products. Perpich will report to Wilson.
Prior to last night’s screening of The Grim Game at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles, Harry Houdini’s 1919 silent feature hadn’t been publicly shared in decades. Larry Weeks, a devoted Brooklyn-based Houdini fan who passed away last year shortly after confirming his ownership of the only known copy, previously showed it in 1973 at The New School.
In the film, which was re-premiered last night with live musical accompaniment, Houdini plays a newspaper reporter who fakes his uncle’s death, only to then be framed for the man’s actual murder. From the program notes:
The plane crash sequence was an accident during filming that the producers decided to incorporate within the plot. Fortunately, both flyers were able to get their planes under control and land safely. At the picture’s premiere, Houdini offered a $1,000 reward to anybody who could prove the collision had been faked.
Rick Schmidlin, who negotiated TCM’s purchase of the film from Weeks last year, told the New York Post’s Lou Lumenick that the former juggler and children’s party entertainer drove a hard bargain. Sunday night’s screening at The Egyptian was a big deal in the Houdini world, with Schmidlin separately explaining to the LA Times’ Susan King that fans were flying in from all over the U.S. to attend.
The movie, the second of five silent films made by Houdini, will be broadcast on TCM in the near future.
[Image courtesy: TCM]
Meredith Corporation has named Kim Martin chief strategy officer. Martin most recently served as president and general manager of We TV. She held that role for nine years before transferring into a consultant role in 2013.
Prior to her appointment at We TV, Martin was executive VP of distribution and affiliate marketing for Rainbow Media, which owns AMC, Fuse, IFC and We TV. She previously worked for Discovery Network for 10 years.
Martin’s appointment is effective April 13. She’ll and report to Meredith chairman and CEO Steve Lacy.
President Islam Karimov did not even bother to amend the constitution, which limits him to two terms. After yesterday's sham election, he is preparing to begin his fourth term without batting an eye. Uzbekistan faces many uncertainties but one thing is sure – this 77-year-old “predator of press freedom” will continue censoring and ruling with an iron hand until he breathes his last.
“The day will come when our citizens will enjoy complete freedom, all civil liberties and above all press freedom,” Karimov said at an election rally on 25 March. But the promised day is not about to arrive.
Uzbekistan's leader since 1989, Karimov stops at nothing to enforce his implacable authority and reduce critics to silence. This includes arbitrary imprisonment, detention in psychiatric hospitals and widespread use of torture. Journalists pay a high price if they are tempted to take his professions of democratic faith literally. At least nine are currently detained. And they are not allowed to hope. Just as Mohammed Bekzhanov was about to complete a 13-year spell in jail in 2012, he was given an additional five-year sentence.
Karimov is everywhere in the media, boasting of his government's “achievements” and warning the public against “destructive forces” that threaten “national values.” Anyone daring to underline the prevailing optimism by challenging the bullish official statistics or by seriously investigating social problems takes a big risk.
Independent journalist Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2008 on a trumped-up charge of drug trafficking for covering the Aral Sea environmental disaster. Like most of the other detained journalists, he is in poor health and his condition is worsening.
Independent and opposition websites have long been inaccessible in Uzbekistan and the regime continues to plug the holes – creating a new entity for monitoring communications, bringing mobile phone operators to heel, blocking tools for circumventing online censorship and launching repeated cyber-attacks on outspoken sites.
Is this just cynicism or is it a worrying case of senility? The old dictator says he supports Internet freedom. But not all of his statements are so disconnected from reality. In an address to journalists in June 2012, he said, “choosing this profession (...) requires courage and self-sacrifice.” Nothing could be closer to the truth.
(Photo: Alexander Nemenov / AFP)
Reading The New York Times’ lead story on the crash of the Germanwings flight in the mountains of southeastern France, you might not notice what’s different about the page at first. But if you clicked on to a story about the BBC sacking Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, the difference becomes clear: The story about the fired Brit has ads, and the one about the plane crash doesn’t.
This is not a coincidence. Media companies — the Times and others — have built tools and strategies to hide ads on stories of tragedy in order to keep unfortunate or insensitive ads from running along side the news.
I was looking at the HTML source of a recent New York Times story about a tragic plane accident—150 people feared dead—and noticed this meta tag in its head:
<meta property="ad_sensitivity" content="noads" />
There are no Google results for the tag, so it looks like it hasn’t been documented, but it seems like a pretty low-tech way to keep possibly insensitive ads off a very sensitive story—an admirable effort. It’s interesting in part because it’s almost an acknowledgement that ads are invasive and uncomfortable.
Higgins’ discovery was confirmed by former and current staffers of the Times, but developers and technologists from other news organizations confirmed the paper wasn’t alone. This particular thread on Hacker News has a number of examples from other news sites with similar tools for hiding ads.
@xor It was born of concern from editorial side, and secondary to considerations for advertiser. It predates 2003 as a CMS feature
— Michael (@donohoe) March 25, 2015
— Stephen Abbott Pugh (@stephen_abbott) March 25, 2015
In an email, Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said it’s a fairly simple process for editors, selecting a field in the paper’s CMS to make ads disappear on certain stories. The decision on what stories are sensitive enough to remove ads is made in the newsroom, Murphy said.
Being a media company means unfortunate ad adjacencies are going to be a part of business. When companies hand over their money to get their messages displayed against your content, they’re also risking their products winding up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In print, the consequences can be more lasting, as a mistake is stuck in time for at least 24 hours. Online, the potential for problems increases with remnant ads, which can go from being annoying to offensive depending on the story.
Considering that advertising is still the main source of revenue for most news organizations, the decision to put those brands on ice can have consequences. But it’s a move in the direction not just of sensitivity, but also improved readability. When tragic stories happen it can be too easy to cause a kind of proximity dissonance in readers just through the normal design of an article page. This is a problem that many news sites have to balance, as readers are regularly confronted with headlines that alternate between the horrible and the quotidian.
But it’s hard not to see “Dead/Shooting/School” next to “LOL/OMG/WTF” without cringing just a little bit. Principles and logic and everything else notwithstanding. News may be varied — and human experience may be varied — but there are occasions when it’s nice not to be reminded of the confluence. Presented a story that buckles under the weight of its own senseless tragedy, it’s disconcerting to see its summary surrounded by naked dudes and meme-y cats and an icon informing you that BuzzFeed’s take on the tragedy is “now buzzing.”
RELATED ARTICLEWith $50 million, BuzzFeed growth calls for sharper lines between news and the other stuffAugust 11, 2014That’s something BuzzFeed has tried to address, specifically in the demarkation between BuzzFeed News and what it calls BuzzTeam or BuzzFeed Life. The LOLs are gone on stories of tragedy, but the distinctive BuzzFeed voice and style lives on in its headlines, teasers, and navigation.
Lisa Tozzi, news director for BuzzFeed News, told me over email they have a similar toggle switch in their CMS that removes the related content bar on stories they deem sensitive. “It’s a judgment call the editors and reporters make depending on the story. Usually stories about death and violence get flagged as sensitive,” she wrote.
So compare their main piece on the Germanwings crash (no sidebar, no “People Try Lunchables For The First Time” promo) with Ruby Cramer’s dive into Hillary Clinton’s new fundraising machine (all of the above).
Deciding what stories meet the criteria for extra sensitivity isn’t always an easy call, especially as news evolves over several cycles, according to Mike Toppo, vice president and senior editorial director for CNN Digital. CNN employs a similar system for removing preroll ads off videos for sensitive stories or gruesome footage. In events like the plane crash, staff will go into their CMS and make sure all videos related to the story are ad-free.
But that can change as stories progress, Toppo said, as the content you create around an event continues to evolve. Is a discussion between reporters and analysts about flight safety the same as airing footage of the wreckage? “The news cycle can go on for days, depending on what the story is,” he said.
Photo of empty billboards by Ariel Dovas used under a Creative Commons license.
Gary Pruitt, president and CEO of the Associated Press, wants to make changes to international laws in order to better protect reporters. During a speech at Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Pruitt said anyone who kills or takes a journalist hostage should be charged with a war crime.
“Wearing ‘Press’ on your jacket once offered some degree of protection for journalists in the most dangerous areas,” said Pruitt. “Today, it more often makes them a target.”
Pruitt noted the horrible trend among extremist groups of using brutality as a way to get noticed. “Now, most perniciously, we find ourselves in the sickening situation where terrorists are killing journalists not to stop a story — but to create one,” he said.
Pruitt admitted that changing laws won’t necessarily cause extremists to alter their behavior. However, amending the laws now could lead to an improvement over the longterm.
“When independent media cannot provide eyewitness original reporting, freedom suffers,” said Pruitt. “A free press is the most powerful bulwark against tyranny. We must never forget that.”
Washiqur Rahman, a 27-year-old blogger, was hacked to death with machetes today by three men in Tejgaon, an industrial district of Dhaka. Police arrested two of the men but the third got away.
Police told local media that Rahman's blog posts were the motive for the attack but did not mention any in particular.
“We are appalled by this latest barbaric act and the additional threat it represents for freedom of expression and information, which is already endangered by the almost daily violence to which bloggers and journalists are exposed in Bangladesh,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.
“We offer our condolences to Rahman's family and friends, we condemn the government's failure to protect bloggers, especially those who cover or comment on religion, fundamental freedoms and extremism of all kinds, and we again urge the prime minister to combat this growing violence or else all non-religious thinkers will flee and strict self-censorship will dominate all public debate in Bangladesh.”
When unidentified individuals slew writer and blogger Avijit Roy and badly injured his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, in Dhaka on 26 February, Reporters Without Borders condemned the inadequacy of the resources deployed to bring the perpetrators and instigators of crimes against journalists and bloggers to justice.
Reporters Without Borders also urged the authorities to allocate resources to protect bloggers who are the targets of online threats by radical religious groups and bloggers known for their commitment to freedom of expression.
Rahman is the third blogger to be killed since the start of 2013 in Bangladesh, which is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old comedian, has been selected to succeed Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Just like everyone thought.
The New York Times reports that Noah has been performing standup since his 20s, and has appeared on the Daily Show three times. He’s expected to be formally introduced by Comedy Central at some point today.
When word broke that Stewart was leaving the Daily Show, it seemed like everyone was being considered as a successor. We even gathered a list of 24 candidates that had been cited by media reports. Noah was not on that list.
Michele Ganeless, Comedy Central’s president, is already commenting on the selection of another man to keep the late night dude fest going. “We talked to women. We talked to men,” Ganeless bluntly told the Times. “We found in Trevor the best person for the job.” Hey, at least he’s not white.