Talking Biz News reports that Consumer Reports has made a few changes to its editorial leadership. Details are below.
- Wendy Bounds has been named executive director of content. Bounds most recently served as head of video. She came to the magazine from The Wall Street Journal. who currently heads Consumer Reports’ video division, had been named executive director of content.
- Diane Salvatore has been promoted to editor-in-chief of Consumer Reports. Salvatore most recenly served as senior director of content strategy and development. She was previously editor-in-chief of Prevention and Ladies’ Home Journal.
- Salvatore is succeeding Ellen Kampinsky, who is leaving the magazine after serving as editor-in-chief for just short of one year.
- Erle Norton has been named executive editor of digital. He most recently served as deputy director of video. Norton joined Consumer Reports earlier this year from ABC News.
RELATED ARTICLE3 new ideas on the future of news from MIT Media Lab studentsMay 29, 2012Every spring at MIT, Ethan Zuckerman teaches a class called “Future of News and Participatory Media.” It’s a class tailor-made for people who read Nieman Lab, because Zuckerman’s approach is treating news “as a design and engineering challenge.” (Not coincidentally, it’s a class you’ll often find Nieman Fellows and Lab staffers attending.)
We’ll explore the systems journalists have used to report and share the news, but we’ll focus on developing our own tools and methods to address these challenges.
One of the most interesting parts of the class are the final projects from students, which focus on applying technology to newsgathering and distributing information. This year’s crop of projects included tools to help add more context to the news, new platforms for audience engagement, ideas for media startups, and a tool for exploring data.
RELATED ARTICLEFOLD wants to keep you from tumbling down link rabbit holesJuly 2, 2014Some ideas go on to find life beyond MIT as independent projects. FOLD, a platform that lets users build context through multimedia elements, was first developed in Zuckerman’s class and now has been released to the public.
Here are a few of this year’s projects that I thought were interesting. You can find the full roster of projects here.Backstori.es
What modern TV shows and the news share in common is a constant need to catch people up on what they’ve missed. If you’ve watched Scandal or Game of Thrones, you’re used to the “Previously on…” montage, which recaps the major plot points of earlier episodes. It can feel the same if you jump into an ongoing news story and don’t have the the background facts on something like Amtrak’s safety record, or previous earthquakes in Nepal.
The team behind Backstori.es — current Nieman Fellow Celeste LeCompte, former Nieman Labber Liam Andrew, and Sean Flynn — wanted to make it easier for journalists to create recaps for the news. It takes links from within a story to source background information, which is used with images and on-screen text to produce short videos.
Backstori.es is a web-based tool that allows journalists to semi-automatically generate a background explainer video for any news story. In less than 5 minutes, users can generate a list of relevant previous stories (using the current story’s inline links and other structured data), select the headlines and images that matter most, arrange them in a sequence and customize transitions.
A finished video would look something like this:Peanut Gallery
Reader comments are journalists’ white whale: Some want to hunt them down and kill them; others want to try to save them. The team that created Peanut Gallery — Bianca Datta, Vivian Diep, and Nieman Fellow Kitty Eisele — hopes to fix comments through more nuance in the language, design, and user experience of comment systems.
In order to reach an ideal system of comments — a discussion that stays relevant, civil, and provides new ideas — the team focused on what visual cues their system could give readers about the nature of the comments. They write: “Here, we are exploring possibilities in the design of comments to reflect user emotion and tone through a mix of sentiment analysis, typographical behavior detection, and a new type of censorship.”
What that looks like is a commenting tool that turns “positive” words red and “negative” words blue, or renders any word followed by multiple exclamation points in all caps. The overall goal is to use the features to better gauge how readers react to stories and better understand the impact of reporting.WeCott
In recent years, some media companies have been trying to find ways to measure the impact of their work in the real world. Anecdotally, reporters and editors can sometimes point to the passage — or removal — of certain laws. But for most stories, it can be difficult to see how a story can result in significant change.
One solution is to give readers the tools to take action on the subjects they’re reading about. WeCott is a platform that would allow people to organize around a cause spurred by an item in the news. With WeCott, readers could share information, raise money, and plan action following stories they’ve read. Think of it as a Kickstarter for news-inspired activism. One example from the WeCott team — Nieman Fellows Alicia Stewart and Wahyu Dhyatmika, Amy Zhang, Giovana Girardi, and Anna Nowogrodzki — is rallying people around a boycott of nail salons in New York following The New York Times investigation into the treatment of salon workers.Periodismo de Barrio
Nieman Fellow Elaine Diaz Rodriguez used the time in Zuckerman’s class to develop the idea for Periodismo de Barrio, a community journalism project that would deliver news and information to areas recovering from crisis. Diaz, a native of Cuba, plans to pilot Periodismo de Barrio in her home country:
In an attempt to keep up the personal tradition of a deeply humane and respectful journalism that is sensitive to other people’s misfortunes, “Periodismo de Barrio” will try to offer a complex perspective on this situation. Although getting access to sources in Cuba is extremely complicated, by being close to the people rather than to the institutions, as well as our access to the Municipal Assembly delegates, make it easier to develop this project.
The idea would be to distribute Periodismo de Barrio in packages or “paquetes,” USB drives containing stories and other information from Diaz and contributors.
Photo of MIT by Wck used under a Creative Commons license.
In places like Brazil and Switzerland, the U.S. Department of Justice’s unsealed 47-count indictment of FIFA officials and others related to soccer’s international governing body is major front-page news. Here are today’s most striking international newspaper treatments.newseum.org]
Ozersky was a well-respected food critic who was known for his wit and blunt critiques. He was the founding editor of New York’s Grub Street and his work appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, Food & Wine, Time and more. He also served as Esquire’s restaurant editor-at-large.
Ozersky was in Chicago covering the James Beard awards. He was 47 years old.
Reporters Without Borders blames the Houthi rebels for the deaths of two journalists in a Saudi-led coalition air strike while held hostage by the rebels in Dhamar province. The plight of media personnel in Yemen continues to be very worrying after UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva were postponed indefinitely.
The bodies of the two journalists – Abdallah Qabel, a reporter for Yemen Youth TV and Belqees TV, and Suhail TV reporter Youssef Al-Aizari – were returned to their families on 25 May.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the readiness with which the Houthi rebels kidnap journalists and hold them in locations liable to be the target of coalition air strikes. Their oppressive behaviour has driven many journalists into exile.
“We point out that attacks on the media and abductions of journalists are regarded as war crimes and as serious violations of the Geneva Conventions,” Reporters Without Borders head of MENA desk Alexandra El Khazen said. “The houthis must be held accountable for their actions towards civilians, especially journalists.”
The two reporters were kidnapped on 20 May after covering a meeting organized by members of tribes opposed to the Houthi rebels in Al Hadi district in Dhamar, a province to the south of the capital, Sanaa.
They were killed in one of the coalition air strikes targeting military sites controlled by the Houthis. The Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate, which condemned their abduction, said they were being held at the national seismological centre in Jabal Hiran, which was destroyed by a coalition air strike on 21 May.
The families of the two journalists had alerted local and international human rights NGOs and media outlets on 21 May about their abduction and had appealed for help in obtaining their rapid release.
According to the families, Houthi rebels intercepted the two journalists together with the activist Hussein Al-Ayssi at a military checkpoint, searching them and confiscating their equipment.
The families said they were then held along with dozens of other people in a building in Jabal Hiran. Suhail TV, Belqees TV and Yemen Youth TV issued statements condemning their detention and holding the rebels responsible for their fate.
The information ministry and some local media have accused the Houthis of using hostages as human shields. A Houthi rebel representative rejected the charge, accusing the Saudi-led coalition of making no distinction between civilian and military targets.
Journalists abducted or missing
Hassan Othman Bader, a Sudanese journalist working for the Saudi government news agency SPA in Sanaa, was detained by rebels in the eastern province of Hadida around the time of the start of the Saudi-led air strikes two months ago. He was freed on the 13 May.
The journalist Jalal Al-Shar'abi was abducted from his home on 24 April by members of the Houthi security forces, who fired on his car, badly injuring his driver. Shar'abi's fate is still unknown.
Waheed Al-Sufi, the editor of the daily Al-Arabiya, was abducted from a post office on 6 April by unidentified persons, who reportedly asked him if he worked for the Saudi TV station of the same name.
Yemen is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
After addressing the UN Security Council yesterday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) secretary-general Christophe Deloire gave a news conference at UN headquarters in New York together with Yara Bader, the wife of the imprisoned Syrian journalist and free speech activist Mazen Darwish. The two urged the United Nations to do everything possible to ensure that its resolutions on the protection of journalists are implemented in Syria.
The founder of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), Mazen Darwish has been held by the Syrian government, along with two of his employees, Hani Al-Zaitani and Hussein Ghareer, for more than three years. A few days after UNESCO awarded him its annual press freedom prize on 3 May, he and his colleagues were removed from Adra prison. His family has had no news of him since then.
“Darwish's disappearance right after the ceremony at which UNESCO awarded him its Guillermo Cano prize was an aggressive reaction by the Syrian authorities,” Deloire said. “The international community should not tolerate it. The UN and its member states should ensure that Syria implements the resolutions that have been adopted.”
Bader called on the Syrian authorities to implement the UN General Assembly's resolution on the release of Darwish and his colleagues, and urged the international community to do more to protect journalists in the field, who are exposed to danger as soon as they try to work properly.
She said it was important to support those like Darwish who dream and strive for a better future. Despite an oppressive environment for news providers in Syria, Darwish has sacrificed more than ten years of his life for Syria, becoming a major source of vital information about his country.
“We need to know where Mazen Darwish is and we hold the Syrian authorities responsible for his life,” said Bader, who last saw her husband in January and has had no word from him since the start of this month.
Darwish was arrested along with all of the SCM's employees when Syrian air force intelligence officers raided the centre's Damascus headquarters in February 2012. The victim of torture, he was brought a judge for the first time in February 2013. Since then, his trial has been postponed more than 20 times and he has become an emblem of how the regime suppresses freedom of information.
The UN General Assembly called for the release of Darwish and his colleagues in its Resolution 67/262 of 15 May 2013. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention did the same in January 2014. Security Council Resolution 2139 of 22 February 2014 called for the release of all persons arbitrarily detained in Syria. Despite all these appeals, the three men continue to be held.
Deloire reminded reporters of the grim situation of the media in Syria, nowadays the world's deadliest country for journalists.
A total of 45 journalists and 127 citizen-journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the conflict, while 30 are being held in the regime's jails and 25 (of whom five are foreigners) are the hostages of radical Islamist groups. In Iraq, seven journalists have been killed since Islamic State began its offensive in June 2014, and nine journalists are currently being held by IS.
Publisher Jayne Mountford, managing editor Ashley J. Parker and the rest of the Fashion Times gang will no doubt be celebrating tonight. The New York site and parent company have been purchased by IBT Media, in what IBT says is the first of several planned content acquisitions.
From this afternoon’s announcement:
Fashion Times LLC operates five websites including Fashion Times and Fashion & Style. Under IBT Media’s ownership, the properties will continue to operate as free news websites targeting consumers interested in fashion, beauty and design. Fashion Times LLC’s staff will be relocated to IBT Media’s headquarters in lower Manhattan in June.
“There’s a lot of synergy between our flagship properties like Newsweek and International Business Times and our existing niche sites,” said IBT Media co-founder and chief content officer Johnathan Davis. “Adding fashion, beauty and design to that mix will allow us to expand our reach while leveraging content for the flagship sites.”
IBT’s current network of sites, which also includes Medical Daily, Latin Times and iDigitalTimes, logs around 90 million monthly unique visitors.
If it’s Wednesday, it must be Michael’s. The faithful flocked to the scene to be seen today–but it was a heck of a lot harder to be heard. We noticed several power-lunchers (Lesley Stahl, Lynn Sherr, Esther Newberg and Faye Wattleton, to name a few) who engaged in a fruitless game of musical chairs in search of a quieter spot in the dining room. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but why does everyone have to yell? Perhaps we’ll order some ear plugs on the side with next week’s Cobb salad.
Despite the din, I was very excited to lunch with Joan Kron today because I’ve always been a big fan of her exhaustive, meticulously researched pieces on plastic surgery for Allure. PR maven extraordinaire Judy Twersky, who knows everyone, arranged for us to meet. Next March will mark Joan’s 25th anniversary with Allure. She is the only contributor besides EIC Linda Wells who has been with the beauty bible since the very beginning. Joan told me she was first hired to cover “the psychology of beauty,” but quickly segued into writing about plastic surgery. In certain circles, you can’t have one without the other. N’est-ce pas?
Joan Kron and Diane Clehane
Having interviewed virtually every doctor and so-called expert in the field, Joan is largely considered to be the go-to resource for all things plastic surgery. The veteran of three face-lifts herself, she is also very much its most fervent cheerleader. “It’s a fact that people feel better about themselves when they think they look better, and for many people the way to do that is through plastic surgery. Let’s face it, attractive people are treated better.” Joan told me she just doesn’t understand what compels people to spew vitriol online posting vicious comments about someone else’s appearance, especially those who have undergone procedures, noting “People who have had plastic surgery are the last group that is OK to criticize.” After all, she said, “There were 15 million procedures done last year — 120,000 face-lifts, so there are plenty of people doing it.”
Not surprisingly, Joan was a friend of Dr. Fredric Brandt, the well-known dermatologist who committed suicide at his Miami home last month. His somewhat startling appearance seemed at odds with the subtle work he’d done on many celebrity clients, including Kelly Ripa and Stephanie Seymour, and was the subject of plenty of unkind comments and insinuations in much of the press he received. A short time before his death, Dr. Brandt was profiled in The New York Times, which, according to Joan “walked a fine line” on the subject of his appearance. “I worried every time there was a story in the paper [about him],” she said. “Fred was very sensitive. A lot of people told him not to read the comments [about him online], but he read all of that stuff.” Joan had dinner with Dr. Brandt three weeks before his death, and while she had no idea he was struggling with clinical depression, she was very much aware the character played by Martin Short in the Netflix comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, widely believed to be a fictionalized version of him, upset him greatly. Days after his death, in a blog post for Allure, Joan wrote, “Those of us who knew Fred Brandt well can attest that he had been obsessing about this obvious portrayal of him.”
Between bites of Dover sole, I asked Joan what celebrities she thought had the best and worst plastic surgery. “Paul Newman had it and he looked great. You only notice the bad plastic surgery,” she explained. “Most celebrities do it in little increments now so you don’t notice, but Jennifer Aniston — please! Something is going on.” When I asked her what we can expect from Bruce Jenner‘s big reveal after he’s fully transitioned into becoming a woman, she simply said, “He’s already pretty.”
At 87, Joan has embarked on a new chapter in her storied career as executive producer and director of her first documentary film, Take My Nose… Please, about — what else? — plastic surgery. She described the 55-minute film as a “seriously funny and subversive look at nearly a century of comedy and the role it has played in exposing the pressures on women to be attractive and society’s desire-shame relationship with plastic surgery.” Currently in production, the film is slated for a February 2016 release.
Joan, who has been interested in doing a film for some time, told me the idea for the documentary came about after a conversation she said with Bill Scheft, a longtime writer for David Letterman. She told him “comedians are the only people who tell the truth about plastic surgery — all the other celebrities lie” and he said, “That’s your movie.” The next time she sat at her computer, she came up with the clever title (“It just came out of me!”) and hasn’t stopped since. Bill is an executive producer on the film. Joan has assembled an impressive team of producers and film editors, including television veterans Andrea Miller and Rachel McDonald Salazar (The Sopranos, Behind the Candelabra).
The documentary follows two comedians, Emily Askin, an improv performer in Pittsburgh who has always wanted a nose job, and Jackie Hoffman, a seasoned Broadway performer here in New York City who has always regretted not having her nose done when she was a teenager. “I’m not going to tell you how it ends,” said Joan. Also included are tales from comic Lisa Lampanelli, among others. Joan Rivers will make a cameo appearance through the audiotape of one of Joan’s in-depth interviews with the late comedienne. “When I told her about the project, she said ‘I love it! That’s me. I have to be in it.'”
Last week, Joan was invited to screen a rough cut of the film for the Producers Guild of America East documentary committee and was thrilled with the positive feedback she received. “They applauded afterwards. I was told they don’t always applaud.” But, she said, getting the film completed is going to take more money–$450,000 to be exact–and she’s in search of investors. “We’re having a pitch party in two weeks.” Paging Sheila Nevins! Doesn’t it sound like the perfect fit for HBO? Joan told me she isn’t sure where Take My Nose… Please will wind up. “My goal is to be the oldest director at Sundance.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Penske Media’s vice chair Gerry Byrne and Hollywoodlife.com’s Bonnie Fuller, presiding over their monthly schmoozefest. In attendance: Brandon Ralph, Michael Davis, Rob MacDonald, Meghan Peters, Susan E. Lee, Laura Lubrano, Joanie Dougherty, David Rubin, Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, Karen Bailey and E!’s Alicia Quarles
2. My friend Jill Brooke who was just named EIC of Travel Savvy with the Hampton Sheet’s Joan Jedell
3. LAK PR CEO Lisa Linden and Suzanne Dawson
4. Producer Freddie Gershon and Marty Granoff
5. Mitch Kanner
6. Act One: PR guru Paul Wilmot; Chapter Two: Niche Media’s Jim Smith and Bo Dietl
7. Book seller Glenn Horowitz
8. What were they talking about? Uber agent Esther Newberg with newsgals Lesley Stahl, Lynn Scherr and Faye Wattleton
9. PR maven Liz Kaplow and a young dark-haired power gal
11. Lynn Nesbitt
12. Writer Lisa Birnbach and three pals
14. Accessory maven Mickey Ateyeh with fellow fashionistas Hal Rubenstein and Judy Licht
15. Michael Griffin
16. Nick Verbitsky
17. Brian Sliwinski
18. Joan Kron, Judy Twersky and yours truly
20. People’s Jess Cagle (who lunched with me a few weeks ago) and agent Rob Weisbach, in for a quick trip from Los Angeles
21. Author (Jackie as Editor) Greg Lawrence
22. British Heritage owner Jack Kliger and former Saks Fifth Avenue CEO Steve Sadove; Second seating: producer Beverly Camhe, fresh off her trip to Cannes
23. Heidi Roberts
24. Legendary ad man (“BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine”) Martin Puris
25. MTV’s Ross Martin
26. Jason Hirschhorn
27. Author Wednesday Martin, whose new book, Primates of Park Avenue, is raising plenty of eyebrows (even the Botoxed ones!) around town
Diane Clehane is a FishbowlNY contributor. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
TVNewser: Ann Coulter is still saying Ann Coulter things.
GalleyCat: F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s home that inspired The Great Gatsby is for sale. For just $3.9 million, you can constantly annoy your friends by reminding them “You know, this is the Gatsby house.”
TVSpy: Incredibly depressing aerial footage of the flooding in Houston.