WatchList for the Week of July 11

Current Situation: Reassessing the Landscape

Somebody Left The Door Open…
If you haven’t been reading Long Island Business News due to the subscription-only online access, it’s time you look again. The new management has loosened up the gatekeeping, giving you more access to its online news. Before you think Publisher Joe Giametta suddenly fell on his head, there is a strategy behind the idea. We don’t want to spill the beans — but oh wait, yes we do, it has to do with growing evidence that web content should differ from print content.
It’s a concept that will be backed up this Friday, as NBC New York’s Veep of Digital News Josh Kleinbaum presents at Summer Boot Camp on how putting broadcast news on a website isn’t what the future holds nor, for that matter, what the consumer wants.
(You may remember when Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times and now boss at The Marshall Project, spoke at an FMC event about abandoning the chase for clicks, which do not equate to quality news.)
Media learn these lessons first, and media-savvy businesses can anticipate the trends accordingly.

A Morning Oath, WaPo’s Tagline and a Very Good Chance of Choking on a Hot Dog…

High school students from around the country are taking part in Long Island University’s Summer Journalism Institute, happening this week at its CW Post campus.

Under the direction of Prof. Carolyn Levin, the Institute gives students hands-on training, daily writing requirements and a field trip inside The New York Times, among other things. Tuesday morning they spoke with FMC’s Jaci Clement about news, why it’s important (because “Democracy Dies in Darkness” said the bright kid in the back of the room) and how to create a strong opening sentence for their news articles, one of which was about hot dogs and why you should never cut them crosswise (who knew?).
Before that, though, the largest group in the Institute’s history took the Fair Media Council’s Student Journalist Oath:
“I, (insert name), do solemnly swear to apply my full potential while serving as a student journalist at Long Island University. I pledge to use all my knowledge in my assignments, and to actively seek advice and insight from my teachers, for they have the expertise and the experience I need to ensure my success.

I understand the freedoms of speech and of the press I enjoy are a great privilege, and with such privilege comes great responsibility. I must be accurate and fair in my reporting. I must choose my words carefully, because words have the power to hurt and to heal. I promise to seek truth in my reporting, and to verify my facts. I am not here to judge, but to tell other peoples’ stories to the best of my ability.

By taking this oath, I promise to uphold the highest standards of journalism, so that those who come after me may enjoy these same freedoms. I look forward to seeing my name as a byline, which announces my work to the world and lets readers know I stand by my stories as true, just and worthy of their time. I take this oath willingly, because I am proud to be a student journalist at Long Island University.”

Out of Business
It’s always a sad day when a local news outlet closes, but LI Pulse had a run to be proud of: A lifestyle magazine surviving more than a decade in this market is a notable achievement, no matter how you slice it. Part of the problem is and always has been the quest for four-color, glossy advertising. The other part? Long Island is more of a state of mind than a place on a map.
In Business, But Packing
It’s official: Uptown is so yesterday. ABC will take up residence at 4 Hudson Square, in a $650 million deal. CBS’s Hudson Square Broadcast Center is at 345.
Media Make Your Blood Pressure Soar?
If you’ve ever pounded your fist on a daily (a tradition we’re pretty sure started back in the spring of 1702, when the first daily newspaper was birthed)  or screamed at the television set during the nightly news, noted media attorney Charles Glasser offers this look at how they get away with what they get away with. The Daily Caller is Tucker Carlson’s baby, BTW.
If you woke up wondering what the governor’s up to today, he’s hanging out at Farmingdale State College this morning. Go Rams! (And, for those of you not wondering, well, Go Rams!)
WatchList for the Week of June 28

Current Situation: Stirring the Pot

The Welcome Mat is Out
Getting the media to pay attention to what happens on Long Island is at the heart of FMC’s work — and justifiably so, as trends ranging from real estate to politics begin on Long Island and then proceed to roll ‘cross country — so it’s with open arms we welcome City&State to take up residence here and help eliminate a woeful void in daily coverage of the ins and outs of the political scene.
With history as our guide, we know there are some in the throes of Long Island’s media underbelly who won’t take kindly to the idea of a new kid breezing into town to eat the old guard’s lunch.
Oh, what fun this will be!
Another Day, Another Power List
It was good to see so many FMC friends at the City&State Power 50 event — folks like Gary Lewi, Michael Balboni, Stu Rabinowitz, Pat Halpin, Terry Lynam, Larry Levy and John Durso — to celebrate the pub’s inaugural visit to Long Island. A valiant effort, to be sure, with a list honoring the usual cast of characters and a rather transparent source behind it. Much of the chatter of the evening wasn’t about who made the list, but on the actual ranking system.  (Having worked on these things, we can tell you there’s a highly scientific method to ranking influence that requires advanced math. Not.) It usually comes down to something as inane as page design, and what pictures look best where. We take you to see the wizard behind the curtain on this topic to give solace to everyone ranked 2-50. To the person ranked No. 1 (in this case, Scott Rechler), what do you care? You’re No. 1.
A side note on the power listing concept is whether or not Long Island has hit its threshold on the topic, with multiple news outlets doing it here. Long Island Press recently unveiled its 15th annual list, the first of which highly resembled a certain PR guy’s client base. Also interesting is the consistent setting for these events: The Woodlands in Oyster Bay, once an H Singh property.
Today, in News and Politics
The state of the Supreme Court has shifted a bit of the media’s focus away from the incredible upstarter that is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but not before The New York Times’ took a lashing for ignoring the story. Former NYT executive editor Jill Abramson tweeted the huge misstep is akin to how the Times’ failed to cover the rise of Trump as a serious candidate for president.
After months of the idea being bandied about, Long Island’s Bill Shine (and ex-Fox News bigwig) has accepted a role at the White House.
Also on Long Island: Sean Spicer and Sebastian Gorka are expected to appear at Lee Zeldin’s kick-off event later today.
Seems ages ago that Melissa McCarthy motorized the podium to enable her Spicey character to beat the media in the mock White House press room, doesn’t it? Ah, the days of innocence.


WatchList for the Week of June 21

Current Situation: Welcoming Summer in the Year of Endless Corruption Trials

Life Finds a Way
With Jurassic World set to hit theatres soon, what’s evolving in today’s media world can’t help but bring to mind Jeff Goldblum’s “life finds a way” scene from the first movie.
That is to say, after years of doom-and-gloom reports on the outlook of the news media, it’s undeniable we’re embarking on a new growth period. Doesn’t mean things are all rosy just yet, but the seeds are there.
A new crop of voices in the journalism landscape is taking hold and industry stars are finally emerging from the clutter of white noise. While the sun has mostly set on names like these — even Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter has retired — the new breed ranging from the likes of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, to Ronan Farrow, John Carreyrou, Shereen Bhan, Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo (when he manages to keep his cool), Hardly a complete list here, but that’s the point.
On the business side, things are evolving slowly, but steadily — moving from a reliance on yesterday’s advertising as the revenue driver to the development of new ways to function and pay the bills. Maybe it’s the new guard — like WaPo’s Jeff Bezos and the Los Angeles Times’ new owner, Patrick Soon-Shiong — who enter the picture with great wealth to fund their media enterprises, or the rise of the nonprofit model of journalism which for all its hair-pulling, hand-wringing ups and downs, is producing some stellar work.
Growing areas, like fact checking, provide outlets with new ways to show their worth, if they haven’t just yet figured out how to pay for it, as evidenced here with the latest fascination on how many times the president has lied in office.The need for research special projects to spawn reporting is happening, too, such as at Newsday, now that it has taken over the Long Island Index.
It’s a different world, and change is never easy. But hey, even Edward R. Murrow lamented the state of the industry during his time — which is now considered a golden age.
Altice in the News
Altice has just hired a new head of the USA mobile division, and will raise nearly $3 billion by selling mobile transmission towers in France and Portugal. Closer to home, the Shelter Island Reporter says the area’s Altice franchise agreement is up for renewal, and it’s something SI residents want renegotiated due to unhappiness stemming from high rates and bad service from the Island’s sole cable provider.
WatchList for the Week of June 14


Current Situation: Pondering a world according to AT&T
No sooner is Net Neutrality kicked out the door than a whole new world is ushered in with the AT&T mega-buy of Time Warner. Thinking about what all it means makes the head hurt, and that’s before we toss in Comcast’s $65 billion cash bid for FOX assets. With a playing field so dramatically altered, all the rules have to change. Our concern for the public’s right to know may be the only thing remaining intact.


Enough Already
Lucky for us, the deluge of Altice announcements surrounding the USA unit’s split from its mother ship on foreign soil is almost enough to distract us from the real news of the day.
Funny thing is, those who paid attention during the courting of Altice and Cablevision remember the breathy promises of how Altice’s USA division would be operated separately to begin with and, therefore, no one needed to worry about performance problems anywhere else at the company.


Need a Hand with Those?
Last week, the Press Club of Long Island gave out nearly 250 awards, mostly to Newsday — which, in some cases, took first, second and third places all within the same category.
For brevity’s sake, we’ll note a few things the Long Island daily didn’t actually sweep: edging out Newsday for best website is a notable accomplishment for the startup, and kudos to the Herald Community Newspapers for scoring first place in the Neighborhood/Community Narrative category (Newsday took second and, wait for it, third). Anton Media Group was the big winner in the best magazine category. And here’s a random shout out to a winner in the blogger category, if only for its name, AMikeWhoLikesToHike.
More shoutouts (far less random) to Harvey Aronson, Brian Donovan and Carol Pack, who were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Deservedly so.


The Weak Link
Long Island, you crazy sandbar you. Filled with places that cause even the old timers to tilt their heads and ask, “Where’s that?” and a government structure so convoluted it ensures the eventual answer to whatever it is you seek is “Yup. Can’t be done.”
That’s one of the reasons we love media. Cutting through the nonsense and tapping into the zeitgeist has always been a challenge here. That’s one of the reasons FMC is using data visualization for its new media guide, so you can actually see what’s what and who’s where. More to the point: You can see where coverage lags, and identify overlapping coverage points.
To be fair, every area complains it doesn’t have enough news coverage. Long Island historically felt it got the bum’s rush in favor of New York City. NYC claims no one pays attention to it at all, except for national stories playing out of Midtown. Philadelphia whines it loses out to New York and D.C. (Out of the din, probably the only one with a true axe to grind is Northern New Jersey. Brooklyn took control of the situation by becoming one of the blog capitals of the world, but its scrappy that way.) Oh, and then there’s a sliver of Pennsylvania which is part of the New York metro coverage area — but when’s the last time you heard of anything happening in Pike, a place comprised of a total of 17,000 television households?
Back to the issue at hand: You need news. News needs reporters. That’s the missing link here, and the gap is widening with the downsizing of news staffs due to today’s economic realities. Community weeklies tend to be chains of newspapers claiming their territories, and running with a skeleton crew: It’s common for one editor to be in charge of multiple papers, often running with only one reporter or none at all. Coverage of main streets and village halls suffers, simply due to a manpower shortage.
On the larger scale, town coverage is the weakest link in coverage on Long Island. There are no town-specific outlets — which is odd, given the size of towns around here (Hello, Town of Hempstead and your 770,000 residents. Hey, Brookhaven, how you and your half a million people doin’). Only Newsday has town-specific reporters. But guess what? Even the lone daily has limited boots on the ground in this category, with a total of just 14 bodies to cover 13 towns. Actually, that’s not true: Some of the 14 are split between town coverage and breaking news, which means they’re overworked and anxiety-ridden.
Yet, in the Long Island governing structure, it’s the towns that wield the power.
Think about it.
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