Thursday, November 12, 2009

Media Roundup: Condé Nast, Tribune vs. WSJ, Cult Newspapers, and More

The latest from the worlds of media:
  • Politico's Michael Calderone reports that Newsweek is going through a round of layoffs. No word yet on who's leaving. But it makes this Newsweek blog from earlier this year about surviving layoffs rather interesting.
  • Someplace that has also seen layoffs and other cutbacks, the luxury operation at Condé Nast, is also out with a report on its ad pages for the year, and it isn't pretty. According to The New York Times, the company's overall ad pages are down by a third, and "[t]he worst-hit magazines for the year were Architectural Digest, where ad pages fell 49.9 percent; W, where ad pages fell 46 percent; and Condé Nast Traveler, where pages fell 41.1 percent. Details and Wired both fell about 39 percent."
  • The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal reports that The Wall Street Journal is looking into creating a Chicago edition, such as the one it recently launched in San Francisco (really the national edition with an occasional page of Bay Area-specific coverage). If it does do the new edition (and it probably will, because it's locked in a coast-to-coast battle with the similarly expanding New York Times), then the Trib has no one to blame but itself, as it has continually shrunk its ambitions and coverage and size under owner Sam Zell. When I was in college in the 1980s, I heard that the publisher of the two Madison, Wisconsin, dailies was asked why he didn't just combine them, in essence taking the smaller, money-losing one out of its misery. He replied that no way was he going to do that and open up a slot for the Milwaukee Journal to move in with a localized edition. Nature -- and Rupert Murdoch -- abhores a vacuum.
  • Staying on the newspaper beat a little longer, we should note the bizarre goings-on at the Washington Times, the right-wing capital paper owned by cult leader Sun Myung-Moon. Long a disreputable also-ran paper in the nation's capital, the Times nonetheless became a darling of the conservatives and even -- strangely -- the Christian Right. Now, it appears to be "imploding," and that city is full of stories about the Moons' family feud, armed guards in the company offices, flight of top editors, and more. Huffington Post quotes one source as saying that Rev. Moon said, "The Washington Times has to take responsibility for people going to hell in America," he declared, referring to, among other sins, 'homosexuality and lesbianism.'" I guess no GLAAD Media Award for Sun Myung-Moon this year!
  • Just to show that there is good news in the world of media, here's a report on a Purdue student who created his own magazine.
  • And, finally, Jeff Bercovici reports that John King will host a new show to replace the departing Lou Dobbs. I think that's called trading up.

(My previous media roundup.)

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