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Media Bits & Bytes - As The World Turns edition

AP drops the "i-word"; FCC’s future; When Google lost its cool; Are alt-weeklies toast?; A ‘disruptive’ cable channel; ProPublica meets Reddit; Time’s big lie; Kochs shop for dailies; Exxon > freedom of speech; NLRB Rules In Favor of CWA Against Cablevision

AP's Dropping Of 'Illegal Immigrant' Could Have Wide Ramifications For Media
By Jack Mirkinson
April 2, 2013
Huffington Post

The decision by the Associated Press to drop the term "illegal immigrant"  could have far-reaching ramifications for the media industry.

Editors and reporters carefully track the changes to the guide, so when the AP decides it is altering something, that decision filters out to publications across the U.S. In addition, the AP's wire stories appear in virtually every major newspaper, and in many online publications, giving it an outsized role in shaping readers' perception of events.

Next FCC chairman will impact journalism

By Tracie Powell
April 4, 2013
Columbia Journalism Review (CJR)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced last month that he was stepping down, and journalism advocates have since been lining up to voice opinions on what Genachowski’s successor should do differently in dealing with media. They want an FCC chief who will put an end to further media consolidation, make political ads more transparent, and increase diversity of media ownership and coverage.


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When Google lost its cool
By Andrew Leonard
March 29, 2013

A strange thing happened on Twitter in the middle of March. “Why I Left Google,” a year-old post by a former Google executive named James Whittaker, went viral, for the second time.

That same week, Google had announced that it was killing off Google Reader, probably the most widely used newsreader on the Web, beloved by exactly the kind of power users you might expect to boast legions of Twitter followers. These power users were annoyed and distressed at the imminent disappearance of a service that they depended on. They wanted an explanation. It’s possible that many of them, encountering Whittaker’s post for the first time, found something substantive to chew on in his argument that Google had sacrificed its innovative “don’t be evil” soul in the quest to maximize advertising revenue.

Alt-Weeklies Are Dead; Long Live Alt-Weeklies
By Rachael Daigle
March 26, 2013  
AAN News (Association of Alternative Newsmedia)

2012 was the year the country's largest chain of alt-weeklies, Village Voice Media, became Voice Media Group, making structural changes within the company, losing key staff at its flagship paper, Village Voice, and selling off holdings in Seattle and San Francisco. It was the year Boston Phoenix relaunched as a magazine and became simply The Phoenix.

"[W]hile the industry will miss a storied brand responsible for excellent journalism, our papers are nimble and responding to the changes in the industry in the best possible way." said Tiffany Shackelford, executive director of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia.

But what that response looks like and whether it will ultimately save the industry is the question mainstream media is asking of its alt counterparts with headlines like "The long, slow decline of alt-weeklies"  from Jack Shafer, an alt-weekly alum himself, and the question posed by New York Times reporter David Carr, also a former alt-weekly editor, as to whether alt-weeklies are "toast"?  

Wake Up, Kids: Disruptive TV Is Here Via Participant Media’s Pivot Cabler
By AJ Marechal
March 27, 2013

“The last thing anybody needs is another TV channel to make the media conglomerates richer,” Participant TV prexy Evan Shapiro says. “The approach is to make every day matter for the executives here.”

That’s a gutsy comment from the head of a nascent cable channel, but it is in keeping with the mandate that Participant TV has set out for its Pivot cable network — which promises to be “credible, brave, disruptive” — skedded to bow this summer. Social change is, after all, the name of the game at Participant, which has been producing issue-oriented features and docus like “The Help” and “Waiting for Superman” since it was founded in 2004 by Jeff Skoll. [Portside notes: “Waiting for Superman” is to social change what Leni Riefenstahl’s “Olympiad” was to sports.]

ProPublica Asks Reddit: What Should We Cover?
By Meranda Watling
March 27, 2013

This week, the non-profit investigative journalism group ProPublica decided to take its quest to uncover the untold stories in a different direction on the Internet: Reddit. And here’s the twist, they’re not seeking sources — they’re seeking stories. They’ve opened up a channel, InvestigateThisNews, asking users to tell them what they should be covering.

Worst Magazine Cover of the Year?
By Seth Mnookin
March 28, 2013

Time emblazoned in all-caps on the cover of its April 1 issue: “HOW TO CURE CANCER.”  It’s followed by an asterisk that directs you to a subtitle, just to make sure you get the point: “Yes, it’s now possible, thanks to new cancer dream teams that are delivering better results faster.”

Which, of course, is completely, utterly, inarguably false.

The Koch brothers’ media investment
By Sasha Chavkin
April 2, 2013
Columbia Journalism Review (CJR)

Tribune Company’s moves to sell its newspapers — a string that includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune—has reportedly sparked the interest of a number of heavyweight financiers. These include familiar media moguls like Warren Buffett and Rupert Murdoch. But heads turned when another pair of possible bidders emerged early in March: the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch

The Koch brothers, of course, are best known for funding conservative causes and conservative politicians.

Reporters Say Exxon Is Impeding Spill Coverage in Arkansas
By Kate Sheppard
April 5, 2013
Mother Jones

“It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff's deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don't want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as ‘Exxon Media’ …Some reporters were like, ‘Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?’ The sheriff's deputies started saying, ‘You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested.’"

Cablevision’s Actions Illegal, Board Says

By Steven Greenhouse
April 8, 2013
New York Times

The National Labor Relations Board said that it planned to file a complaint charging Cablevision with making illegal threats and offering improper inducements to its employees in the Bronx to discourage them from voting to unionize.

As part of the complaint, the labor board’s regional office for Manhattan and the Bronx is accusing Cablevision of illegally telling the Bronx workers that they would be excluded from training and job opportunities if they voted to unionize. The board also said that Cablevision had improperly offered raises and improved benefits to its workers in the Bronx and elsewhere to deter them from joining a union.

Those moves improperly influenced an election last June in which Cablevision’s installation workers in the Bronx voted overwhelmingly — 121 to 43 — against joining the Communications Workers of America.  The union has been battling Cablevision for more than two years as it seeks to organize cable workers in the New York metropolitan area. In January 2012, Cablevision workers in Brooklyn voted 180 to 86 to form a union, despite the company’s vigorous anti-union campaign, becoming the first of the company’s workers to organize in what is largely a union-free industry.