Tag Archives: Media

If I Were Running A Company…Bezos buying the Washington Post

Yesterday, it was announced that Jeff Bezos is buying the Washington Post (the set of newspapers, not the whole company) for $250 million.

So an institution that had potentially to be worth a billion-plus dollars only got $250 million because of their current struggles. How did this happened?

One of the main reasons is newspaper companies had to adjust to technology and they have not made the move quickly enough to profit. This reason is not stunning because almost every newspaper is struggling to adapt. Only the New York Times has met expectations on the newspaper and digital front.

The underlying reason the Washington Post is struggling is they have no idea who they are. In 2008 when Leonard Downie retired, the Post hired Marcus Brauchli from the Wall Street Journal as executive editor for the Post. During his tenure, he shaped the paper similar to the Wall Street Journal in design and content. Tony Kornheiser joked the Washington Post has become the “Wall Street Post.” It also doesn’t help talents like Michael Wilbon, Tom Shales, and others were leaving the Post for better endeavors. By lacking an identity, the Washington Post became a shell of itself.

Most people will be saddened that the Graham family sold their company to someone not only outside of their family, but outside Washington D.C. and they should grieve. However, with Jeff Bezos in charge, people should be rejuvenated. Bezos admits he has no clue what to do with the Washington Post, but he wants to experiment and see the Post succeed for the long run. Since he’s an expert on technology, he can start enhancing WaPo Labs to be more integral to the Washington Post and employees have to embrace experimentation and change. That’s the easy part.

The hard part is the Washington Post is a journalism institution and their main objective is news. How is Bezos, who has no journalism background except being in the headlines, going to bring back or get new readers of the Washington Post? Another question is how does he make the Washington Post not only one of the top nationals media outlets again, but one of the top local media outlets? That’s hard to answer and luckily, he would leave it up to to people who are experts in journalism to solve that.

In most cases, change is a scary thing because people do get comfortable for a long time when they (or it) become successful. That was the case for the Washington Post for a very long time but have fallen on hard times because they couldn’t adapt and they have no idea who they were. Bezos buying the Washington Post is what this media institution needs making the paper going to the 21st century. Eventually, people want great content and stories to read and if Bezos and the Washington Post do not solve that, then everything else beforehand is a moot point.

 

The State of Public Broadcasting, Part Deux

The last time I mention about public broadcasting, I was talking how public media should be funded and how as public media employees and supporters must help. Two weeks after I wrote that post, things have changed.

If you do not follow the public media inner circle, you heard of the secret tapings of NPR fundraisers, including Ron Schiller, about accepting $5 million form a fictitious group. This sting has cost not only Ron his job, but CEO Vivian Schiller‘s (no relation) job. Include Ellen Weiss’s exit at the beginning of the year, NPR does not have a President, Senior Vice President of Programs (in this case, News), and Senior Vice President of Fundraising/Development for its Foundation. It is not the question if how NPR and the local stations should be funded, but the question of what will NPR do?

Those answer, if you like it or not, have to come from the NPR Board of Directors. There has been controversy of how the Board reacted to the “resignations” of the three people. If you want to have an outsider’s view of how public media supporters feel, check Jeff Jarvis’s post and to see the insider’s view of how the Board works, read Dennis Haarsager’s post (he was an interim CEO at NPR). In this instance, the board has to decide what direction it is heading.  There are five directions the board can go:

1. The Inner Circle

The board could select a station manager since 1) the boards is mostly consist of station managers and 2) stations have the biggest to lose if Congress does defund public media.  Putting a station manager to handle NPR would help put influence to local stations, but can this station manager transition to head of an 800-employee organization where you have to not only deal with the news department, but the many departments inside NPR, plus traveling to events to speak and network and dealing with Congress?

2. Broadcasting Governing Board

The board could go to the Broadcasting Board of Governors or the International Broadcasting Bureau to find someone since they are a government agency and should know the politics of what is going on in Congress. It might work short-term with influence Congress to regain some (or all) of the money, but in the long-term, how this affect the news would and development department if the board hired that person just to regain trust in Congress. The board has gone this route and selects Kevin Klose, who was CEO of NPR for 10 years before stepping down in 2008.

3. Blast from the Past

Speaking of Kevin Klose, the board might want to consider someone who help bring NPR back like Klose or someone in the radio news industry who have been in the business for a long time. It might boost morale and influence for the short-term, but will they have an open mind of the trends going on like technology and the pace the business is heading?

4. An updated Vivian Schiller

When Vivian Schiller was CEO, she helps put the NPR budget back in the black and move the organization to the digital age. However, if there was a downfall, it was her attention to detail that failed her from the Juan Williams fiasco, to the fundraiser sting, and to the Rally to Restore Sanity memo confusion. A great candidate would be Jim Brady who has the same pedigree as V. Schiller working with a big newspaper and made him famous in digital media. What Jim had an advantage over Vivian is that he understood community relations, hence the TBD Community Network for bloggers. V. Schiller probably understood the concept, but didn’t implement it since she had to deal with both NPR, as an organization, and the local stations who think Vivian was focusing too much on the NPR. Jim would be a great candidate since he has a chip on his shoulder after the falling out with Allbritton (who owns TBD), but since there was no VP of News and he’s relatively young, would the board take a chance at him?

5. The Frontrunner

Poynter points out the new NPR CEO will have four key challenges:

  1. Embracing change while also upholding NPR’s values, history
  2. Restoring morale at NPR and member stations
  3. Addressing arguments for — and against — federal funding
  4. Responding to criticism of NPR’s governance

Put it this way: NPR wants to kill four birds with one stone (sorry animal activists). Also, NPR is in reset mode since there is no CEO or a Vice President of News. Is there anyone that fits the bill who can cover all four? In the Poynter article, it mentions Kevin Klose a lot and insiders think NPR should re-hire him to take control of the organization. Kevin might be great, but what if he’s not available? There is one person out there who can come close to match Kevin Klose’s credentials: Jim Farley of WTOP/WFED in Washington, DC.

If the board wants to get serious about NPR and their local station agenda, Jim Farley is the right person. Jim has been in the news radio business for 45 years. For the last 15 years, he is Vice President of Programming and News at WTOP and brought the station from very low ratings in 1996, to the number one station in the D.C. area, plus brought in the second most revenue of any station in the United States (behind KIIS-FM in Los Angeles) in 2009. He also helps Federal News Radio (WFED) transform from an online stream only station to a broadcast outlet on multiple formats. He also understands the trends going on radio and journalism. This is Jim in a Media Solutions Lab session on what was his one takeaway:

Jim has been successful on multiple formats from news, classical, industry-specific, Top 40, and others. Also, Jim dabbled with the NPR-style journalism as his company (Bonneville International) and the Washington Post launched Washington in 2006. It was supposed to challenge NPR on the storytelling format, but with the exception of The Tony Kornheiser Show, the format was…utter crap. The marriage didn’t last, but at least he tried and knew NPR-type stories are best done by NPR journalists.

If you’re wondering if Jim does become CEO, how would he boost morale for both the organization and the local stations?

For the organization:

He immediately brings credibility to the newsroom as WTOP has won nine Edward in the last two years and made WTOP the number one station in D.C. He knows how to expand staff and knows to transition to a bigger newsroom since NPR will be moving to a new building next year. However, there might be an adjustment on the development side as Jim dealt on the corporate side with sales and advertising. Since NPR is a nonprofit, Jim has to deal with sponsorships and underwriting. It might be an adjustment, but pulling $50 million+ in revenue with WTOP, I think Jim understands how to pull in the money.

For the local stations:

Jim knows not only news radio, but the concept of radio. He immediately becomes the face of public radio and would help out the smaller stations on establishing themselves. He understands different cities have different needs. In an interview with All Access last year, Jim said about how stations (and online streams) can work in particular cities and industries:

“A radio station could do this by hiring smart people who already cover that industry to do it online. Hartford with the insurance industry and Detroit with the audio industry come to mind.”

Jim further explains how online will help stations grow,

“Remember, an online news operation potentially reaches everybody connected to that industry, whether they live in your signal area or not. It is not limited by the radius of your on-air signal.”

Also, he has done radio at the local and national level so he knows what works best or does not at each level.

The only downside about Jim is his age and it would look like a short-term move, but I will say NPR needs a long-term vision and this calls for someone who has clear vision of what NPR needs to be and what role local stations play, plus there’s no CEO and no VP of News, so they need someone to implement a plan for the next 5-10 years and Jim can do that, if the board let him.

Final Thoughts

Politics moved NPR from “if the organization should be funded?” to “what’s their next move?” Right now, it’s fair to say the NPR staff and stations are demoralize and do not know what will be coming up next and include the top two positions vacant; it’s time for NPR to reassess. Some said the “firing” of Vivian Schiller will put NPR in the downfall. It could be true, but we have no idea who the board wants. However, the only thing we know is the board decision on the CEO will determine where NPR goes. NPR has to realize everyone is watching their next move and if they make a false move, everyone will jump all over them. Everyone, including NPR’s own peers, has pushed them to this point. It is time NPR to make an offensive move. In my opinion, I hope that move is Jim Farley.

2010 Predictions

Now the time of year where I look like a doofus and make some bold predictions. Just look at my predictions last year (although one was affected by Yanni, which no one saw it coming).  So, let me get my psychic gear:

And here we go:

  • Republicans will recapture the House and gain a 4 seats in the Senate on Election Day
  • Obama’s Approval Rating will still hover 50% and probably will be in the next 2 years
  • The jobs market will improve since 2010 will be a rebound year.  2011 will be the most interesting year with government contracts ending.
  • There will be more consultants/contractors because they want to do more than one thing, hence…
  • Companies will start to talk about human billboards
  • Verizon will have a huge year with their “rumored” iPhone 4G.
  • If Facebook was 2007, YouTube in 2008, Twitter in 2009, 2010 has a few candidates. My top 3: Foursquare, Square, and Formspring.me
  • Major gifts to nonprofits will stay the same in 2010 as people will start getting to the flow of things.
  • More violence arises in Iran, but more and more, Iranians will switch to the green Revolution.
  • Out: Personal Branding /5 minutes ago: Candidate Pipeline/ In: Execution
  • Average Conference attendance will improve 3% from the previous year.
  • The Washington Capitals will make the Stanley Cup Final…and be part of the 2011 Winter Classic against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium.
  • The Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys will have the two biggest payrolls in the NFL in 2010 since this is an uncapped year.  The Redskins will not go to the playoffs.
  • The Nationals (or Natinals) will not lose 100 games.
  • The Wizards…you know.
  • Rupert Murdoch will attempt to buy the Washington Post since half the editors used to work with the Wall Street Journal.
  • There will be more independent musicians in the market
  • The new term of 2010: Urban Farming
  • More people will declare themselves independents (although, in technicality, everyone is an independent)
  • For the hell of it, The TV Show, Ed, will be released on DVD.
  • The Winter Olympics will have higher ratings than american idol at times since it’s in Vancouver.
  • Since the World Cup is in South Africa, Brazil will win the World Cup and USA will make it to the Round of 16.
  • Tiger Woods will be athlete of the year after winning in majors in Pebble Beach and St. Andrews
  • While social media usage is still going to grow, it will not overtake emails and texting.  That will take 3-5 years
  • The new home/office accessory everyone will ask: the Tablet
  • Finally…The Animal Revolution will still reign supreme in 2010 and there is no one can contain or stop it.

I hope these predictions hit the mark (or close to it). See you in 2010.

2009 Predictions

This is the time of year people will look others’ blogs.  Yep, its prediction time and I’m joining the bandwagon.  There are several categories I’ll go into.  Let me get my psychic gear:

kornheiserbracket1

And here we go for the first post of 2009:

Politics:

·         Obama’s approval rating will be at 65% at the end of 2009.  He’s going to have the benefit of the doubt, but with one slip up, the number will dip dramatically.  With Obama’s demeanor throughout the election, he would never let that happen.

·         At least one scandal with Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. 

·         Gas will be up to an average of $3.00 in the summer.  We saw the highs of gas prices in the summer and the very low in the winter in 2008.  Next year, they’ll reach at the middle.

·         The interest rate will jump as high as 5%.

·         The U.S. auto industry will still be down, but with Obama’s car czar in place, there will be moderate, renewed interest at the end of 2009.

·         Dick Cheney will get arrested of war crimes and a trial will be pending in 2010.

World:

·         Violence will still reign in the Middle East, but with the presence of Obama as president, it will simmer, but won’t prevent that much.

·         The country to watch:  India.  The population, bordering Pakistan, pollution, and its international relationships will make this a country all the nations will be looking out for.

·         The foreign car manufacturers will still be on the downside, but will still be able to withstand after growth for the past 25 years.

·         With the U.S. economy on the ropes, Russia will do it can to be a top tier power again.  It will not work.

The Working Place:

·         The job outlook will still look grim as companies will layoff more employees to save money and government contracts will expire after Iraq ends.

·         Out in 2009:  New York.  Short-term in 2009: Washington, DC.  Long-term in 2009:  The Midwest.

·         Web 2.0 will be the new training session as companies are finding ways to communicate without travelling and to attract new customers and employees.

·         Phrases you’re going to hear in your company:  compress workweeks and flextime.

·         The company’s new best friend:  the webcam.

Washington DC Sports:

·         The Washington Wizards will have a top three pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.  Somehow, they will get screwed and won’t get a center.  The Curse of Les Boulez strikes again.

·         The Nationals will improve their attendance from 2008…all thanks to the Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, Phillies, Dodgers, the O’s and the Cherry Blossoms on left field in the beginning of the season.

·         The Washington Redskins will be 9-7, without looking at the roster for next year, and miss the playoffs.  Goodbye Jim Zorn…Hello Bill Cowher.

·         The Washington Capitals will still be the Washington Capitals.  My bold prediction:  Eastern Conference Finals.

·         Not local related, but the world has restored order with the NHL and NBA coming back and NASCAR having issues.

Media:

·         Google and Rupert Murdoch will be fighting for the New York Times.  The old school vs. the new school of media.

·         FOX News will still be number one in the cable ratings because it’s still the only conservative network.  It is the liberals’ time, but when you have CNN, MSNBC, and now C-SPAN with all day Obama coverage competing, the others have only one source.

·         Syndication and voicetracking will cover the majority of the radio stations and with Sirius/XM troubles; the radio business will be trusted with this:  news and “Top 40” hits.

·         The movie industry will definitely be down this year after a blockbuster 2008.

·         Deep and I mean deep cuts to your local networks.  Local news will be nonexistent.

Other:

·         We still are in a “Hybrid” revolution, not in a “Green” Revolution.  Just wait two more years.

·         Cell phones will see little growth in 2009.  2010 will be gangbusters and people will be patient.

·         More people will have blogs, Twitters, and Facebooks.  Yes, simultaneously

·         The transition from paper to electronic will start in the middle of the year.

·         Sadly, Rock Band and Guitar Hero will increase all thanks to the Beatles game coming out.

·         For the first year, the country would be united and figure the problems out.  Then the next year, we’re back to bickering and politics.

Have a great 2009!!!

 

Tracy’s Random Thoughts December 2006 edition

It’s the holiday season, so I’m not going to waste your time.

1. Barack Obama

There hasn’t been any anticipation of any candidate when Barack Obama came to the scene for a long time. The strange thing is he might be better than the hype. Here’s something Barack has than all the candidates don’t: A person in color, actual believer in faith, diverse, very humble, and no baggage of what we know. His sole weakness is he doesn’t have any military experience, but he could cover that if he had a vice president with good military background or a good cabinet. I also wonder if he becomes president, there would be a quick 180. If he becomes President, what would he do with Darfur, Afghanistan, Iraq (ok, he isn’t going to win that one, he’s stuck with it), “global warming,” the economy, etc.? Of what I know, he is saying the right things and has shown to back some of it up. Of course, he’s realistic and these elections do change a person and it could be emotionally draining. I hope he runs because I think he’s the only person that can change the country’s image. Oh by the way, be afraid, Dennis Kucinch is running for President. There is hope for the little man…

A microscopic hope.

2. In the name of Christm…ah I meant Holida….oh I meant Peace.

I don’t mind if anyone says a different name for the holidays. I normally say Christmas every year and I’m not going to be bothered if anyone says otherwise. Somehow, people are so uptight with their faith or wording this time, including my religion. All of this associates to money. One little slip-up and it goes to court. Just for once, I want to say Happy Christmukkzaivusar (close enough).

3. Big Corporate Media

In the next month, the classical station in DC, WGMS, will be no longer. For a long time, I didn’t love classical music, but I have appreciated it for devoted fans and a niche station. Next month, Bonneville (yes, it is owned by Mormons) is expecting to sell the station to Dan Snyder’s Red Zebra for the amount two times its face value. Now, everything is in one building. You got shock jocks, conservative talk shows, processed music, loud sports talkers, same urban stations, and “The Jack” format. Everything is the same. It hurts that radio is down that path. Well you might say satellite radio has diverse channels, but they’re guilty as well with paying “superstars” a lot of money. No wonder there are rumors that Sirius and XM are trying to merge. The only thing I listen to is public radio (and John Riggins). I wish I had some variety on the dial because I got nothing.

4. The Northern Virginia-DC Metro traffic

This is why I am reluctant of getting a driver’s license or drive. I love where I am living and where I work, but most of the time people don’t know what to do when driving. There are a bunch of people talking on cell phones, changing lanes during in the middle of the traffic, people driving very slowly, etc. This is one of the problems in Northern Virginia and the cause is that half of the people are new to this area. Here I hope next year, everyone will have a GPS and the computer will tell to go which lane because it is getting ridiculous in this area. Please Tim Kaine, institute a hands-free cell phone law and that every car requires a GPS.

5. The Good and Bad of 2006.

Since this going to be likely my last general post of 2006, here’s the list of what I like and don’t like in 2006:

Good:

  • New Orleans
  • Beck – The Information
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Borat
  • Barack Obama
  • Jim Webb
  • WAMU
  • New Nationals Stadium
  • George Mason in the Final Four
  • Maturing bands (i.e. My Chemical Romance)
  • Titanium Spork
  • Dexter

Bad:

  • Big Corporate Media
    • NBC Universal making cuts and WRC 4 losing George Michael, Arch Campbell, Susan Kidd, IJ Hudson.
    • Bonneville selling out not only to the Washington Post (terrible station except for David Burd) but to Dan Snyder’s money.
    • Rupert Murdoch
    • Having 20 stations share in one building acting like your one big family
  • WETA duplicating WAMU
  • Hollywood gossips of the worst kind…people that have no talent have the headlines.
  • Mel Gibson and Michael Richards
  • The Washington Sports Scene
    • The Redskins are the biggest disappointment and we’re stuck with the same team next year.
    • The Nationals are rebuilding, but how long the fans are going to patient?
    • The Wizards are good, but nothing special.
    • The Capitals have a good team, but is anyone watching? I am, but people are ignoring me.
    • The D.C. United traded Freddy Adu to Real Salt Lake. Here’s what to do: FIRE PETR NOWAK. You ruin the kid and if he is great in Europe or in Salt Lake, or in the next World Cup, you’re dead.
  • Lack of Quality Movies
  • The site that shall not be mention
  • Litigations for money in general.

6. Personal Feelings towards 2006.

2006 to me is when I started to grow up. This was the year I had my first real job, paying most of the bills on my own, and redemption after the end of 2005 when I was broke. Thanks to Facebook, I’m seeing my old friends again, virtually, and started talking to my best friends again. I like my job and I like the company’s core values. However, I have a feeling this is more of a short-term stay. I love doing HR work; this was my concentration in college and that led me to this direction. However, I have been thinking of switching next year since I got the experience down pat and hoping a media company, that I like, has a position open in HR. I don’t mind the co-workers or the unique working structure; it is that I don’t love it. Money will be never an issue unless I’m in dire straits, which I am not. It has to be a job and company that I love. Maybe it has been the three non-profit companies I worked for that I was humble that these skills might lead to greater things. I sure hope so.

I also have to say this year I became more free and that I attended more concerts, went to numerous social and networking events, and attended more sporting events (that includes a preseason hockey game). Sadly, I’m still very shy and serious of what I do because I still have no full control of myself yet. I will be the first to say that I’m an enigma and would like it to be, but I need a better platform if I need to open up.

On the domestic front, nothing special, which is good and nothing out of the ordinary. Thank goodness.

Well, I hope you have a nice Christmukkzzaivusar. I may post a couple of things this year, but if not, I’ll see you next year (If anyone is reading this).