Spin Control…

Posted in CNN on October 19, 2014 by icn2

TVNewser’s Mark Joyella writes about Brian Stelter addressing CNN’s layoffs on today’s Reliable Sources…

It is unfortunately happening all over the place. Conde Nast, the publisher of Vogue and Wired, is laying off 70 to 80 people this fall. My former employer the New York Times is cutting 100 from the newsroom.

And yet they, like CNN, have been hiring people, too, lots of people, mainly for online jobs. That’s for new apps, for new web sites, for new ventures.

Now, there is some overall shrinking going on. But the better word for what’s happening in media today is “reshaping.” Through layoffs, through cuts, through new investments, “reshaping” for the digital future that really feels more like the digital present. It’s already here.

Ugh. Re-characterizing this week’s cuts into something they never were…ugh.

Ok, there were earlier in the year several rounds of mini cuts at CNN that were definitely all about rashaping the network. That’s not what these cuts were. These cuts were ordered by Time Warner. Not to reshape for digital. Not to prepare for the future. To cut costs to raise TW’s profit margin to placate upset shareholders after TW refused to do a deal with Rupert Murdoch. To state otherwise is just silly.

Yes, Stelter did state it in his piece. But he still went on to lump the cuts in with a bunch of other media moves that had no similarity to why this week’s cuts at CNN took place.

Voting Issue…

Posted in CNN on October 16, 2014 by icn2

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This picture was posted this morning by a CNN staffer on Twitter. Predictably, though maybe not for the people involved in this picture, the reaction was pretty vocal. So let’s have a vote…

Update: That tweet, and all the replies to that tweet, have been deleted. Gee, I wonder why…

Update 2: Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell picks up on this

Mediaite has learned from a source that Griffin took the picture, but then CNN brass immediately asked him to delete it.

That’s “immediately” as in within an hour or so…and not before New Day anchor Chris Cuomo RT’d it…

MSNBC to Cancell Ronan Farrow?

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on October 13, 2014 by icn2

Mediaite’s Joe Concha writes that MSNBC may cancel Ronan Farrow’s show within a month…

A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily.

Mr. Farrow’s program — which now averages around just 50,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demo — has never performed well despite the hype that originally preceded it last February before its first airing. Whether the 26-year-old still stays on the network in a pundit capacity isn’t clear right now.

According to a network spokesperson when asked about a possible cancellation of the show: “No, we’re fully committed to Ronan.” Mediaite also reached out to Mr. Farrow’s rep for comment but hasn’t heard back.

Committed now…but what about in a month?

Free for All: 10/13/14

Posted in Free For All on October 13, 2014 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

Spin Control…

Posted in MSNBC on October 13, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Bill Carter writes about MSNBC’s ratings woes…

Rachel Maddow, the biggest star on the MSNBC cable network, just posted her lowest quarterly ratings results ever.

“Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s signature morning program, scored its second-lowest quarterly ratings, reaching an average of just 87,000 viewers in the key news demographic group.

And “Ronan Farrow Daily,” the network’s heavily promoted new afternoon show, which stars a 26-year-old Rhodes Scholar with a high-profile Hollywood lineage, has been largely a dud.

Ouch…

But then there’s this…

MSNBC consciously established its brand as politics-centric, approaching stories from a left-of-center viewpoint, in deliberate contrast to the right-of-center approach of Fox News, which continues to dominate the news channel ratings. At the same time, MSNBC moved away from a close relationship with NBC News that it had during the early years of the network. Today, fewer NBC News correspondents appear on MSNBC.

Mr. Griffin said that a general apathy about American politics has also hurt the network. “You can look at the dysfunction in Washington, the wariness about politics, the low approval ratings,” he said. “That’s had an impact. But we’ve got to adjust; we’ve got to evolve.”

Hmmmm…is this Phil Griffin signalling that MSNBC is moving off of politics…at least to some extent?

One longtime news executive who has worked for both network and cable news organizations said the problem with “Morning Joe” was partly a broader issue with MSNBC. “ ‘Morning Joe’ has been hurt because no one is tuning in to watch the channel now; they go right by,” he said. “The show took its eye off the ball, but you can’t discount the fact that nobody is watching the channel.”

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
The executive, who asked not to be identified because of potential future business with MSNBC, said Ms. Maddow remains a draw, but her format has grown tired. “In terms of Rachel, everybody knows every night what she’s going to say,” he said. “The network just doesn’t surprise you.”

Oooohh…talking out of school in the same article that Griffin tries to position MSNBC’s story for Carter? Not good.

As for MSNBC, Mr. Griffin remained optimistic despite the challenges. He defended the network’s approach, but also hinted that it had to broaden its programming beyond politics.

“We have a good brand, a strong brand,” he said. “But we’ve got to get outside Washington and open up our aperture a little.”

No argument on the second point. But as to the first…if MSNBC’s brand is so stron…so good…why have its ratings gone so south. The whole point of having a strong brand is it allows you to weather the storm better.

The MSNBC Pendulum Swingeth?

Posted in MSNBC on October 9, 2014 by icn2

The Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein writes about MSNBC avoiding its old “The place for politics” charter…

“MSNBC is under pressure to cut costs,” an MSNBC insider tells The Mirror, explaining that there is a real push from Philadelphia to do more breaking news and less politics.

If true this is a strange twist straight out of the Twilight Zone given that MSNBC has moved to POV Analysis with POV hosts…the very people who are the least credible when breaking news erupts. Indeed, the network just let one of its top two breaking news assets leave the network for the White House. Can you picture Ronan Farrow covering a terrorist attack? Joy Reid covering a natural disaster? The Cycle hosts covering a plane crash? Alex Wagner covering a market meltdown? See the problem?

The insider added, “The need for political experts is waning, which means many political contracts won’t be renewed and Goldie Taylor happens to be part of that collateral damage. She understands politics, but she has never worked in politics. [Things are] shifting to a large degree. It’s not that we don’t cover politics. CNN has been the place for breaking news. There’s nothing MSNBC can do about that. People leave Fox News when there’s breaking news.”

And we stay in the Twilight Zone because this leaker inadvertently points out an inherent contradiction in this approach. The whole reason to do more breaking news is on the theory that MSNBC needs more news becaues POV hasn’t been working well lately in the ratings. And yet the leaker admits that the network isn’t the place people go to for breaking news. So the question looms: what’s the point?

BTW, none of this seems to jell with Phil “I’m in this (POV) for the long haul” Griffin’s recent doubling down on finding new voices. This means that either the leaker is just causing mischief or Comcast really does want MSNBC to do more breaking news which would undermine everything Griffin recently said on the subject.

Either way, Phil Griffin will be pissed at this coming out…true or not.

Spot The Anonymouse: The Sequel…

Posted in CNN on October 9, 2014 by icn2

Mediaite’s Joe Concha writes about the latest leak to allegedly come out of NBC News…

The big two questions are: Would this have worked if NBC News President Deborah Turness could have pulled it off? And why/how do these kind of leaks continue to occur under Ms. Turness?

At least one of these questions is the wrong one to be asking. But I’ll circle back to that in a moment…

Then there’s the disturbing (to NBC brass) pattern of leaks during the Turness tenure. David Gregory’s exit was a clinic on how not to handle something in the media business (or any business for that matter). Note: Gregory had been with the network for two decades, handling anchoring/hosting roles from morning show to evening newscast. A few months before firing him, someone in a high place at NBC willfully leaked that a “psychological consultant” was hired to interview Gregory’s friends and family (which didn’t make him look bad or anything). And before NBC could announce his actual termination in August, again the network is caught flat-footed when the press breaks the not-so-surprising news first.

So who’s talking and why? Today, the New York Post features a blaring headline: Are Deborah Turness’ days at NBC News numbered? Three big reasons why the question is being asked:

I’m not going to argue that there haven’t been some damaging leaks to come out of NBC and I’m especially not going to argue that NBC’s handling of the Gregory termination was not a Charlie Foxtrot.

But damaging leaks sprung up all over NBC during the Ann Curry fiasco, another personel change that NBC botched badly, but I don’t recall Concha calling Steve Capus’ tenure “tumultuous”.

More to the point, this last leak can’t be laid at NBC’s doorstep. It came from elsewhere. So NBC News didn’t shoot itself in the foot by leaking the Stewart story just weeks after Todd took over MTP. NBC was shot at by someone from outside the network.

The evidence for an outside shot fired at 30 Rock was right there for all to see, if you knew what to look for.

Exhibit A: The author of the story was Gabriel Sherman.

Exhibit B: What major story did Sherman just write about just a few days earlier? CNN and Jeff Zucker.

Timing is everything. In this case two stories on Zucker back to back, stories that were done with Zucker’s co-operation, followed immediately by a story on Meet The Press, occurred too closely together to be dismissed as a mere coincidence. It’s a mistake that even seasoned media writers sometimes make thinking they’ve covered their tracks without realizing that some of us are on the lookout for red flags like that.

Jeff Zucker is plugged in. He knows everyone in the biz, associations built up over decades rising up NBC’s corporate ranks. Agents talk…they talk a lot more than the outsiders looking in on this industry realize.

The biggest secret about the news business is how much of it has never been publicly disclosed. The amount of history that’s been publicly disseminated by media writers is eclipsed by the amount of history that they know but have never revealed for one reason or another.

The leaker of the Stewart story definitely has ties to NBC. He just doesn’t work there any more.

The question Concha should be asking is why Jeff Zucker decided to leak the Stewart story to Sherman. What was his motivation? What does he gain?

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