Pioneering Spanish News Site Soitu.es Bites The Dust

It’s not just the UK or the U.S. where news sites and blogs start-ups struggle to steal market share from mainstream print-subsidized newspaper websites. Gumersindo Lafuente, founder of 22-month-old Spanish news site Soitu.es told readers in a statement on Tuesday titled “Hasta la vista y gracias” that the periódico digital is closing. The announcement comes less than a month after Soitu.es was recognized by the Online News Association for general excellence, non-English large site; the year before it won the same category as a small site.

“We wanted to tell stories differently, using fully the opportunities of the Web,” writes Lafuente. “We believed (and… perhaps today more than ever) that the value of journalists in this new technological scenario remains, but [they] must radically change its way of working.” He bitterly recounts the project’s birth and how it has struggled despite technological innovations—he says a “a good handful of advertisers” saw the value of the site’s community of readers although in recent months it proved more difficult to convince them.

The site boasted half a million unique users and, through a series of third-hosted widgets, two million monthly UUs. Audience wasn’t the problem: advertising with a new, misunderstood model was, according to Lafuente. He tells Elpais.com: “We created new tools for the new scenarios of journalism. It was essential for the project, but also meant [it was] more difficult and costly. In the long term [it] gives you competitive advantage, but in a moment of crisis [it] hurts you.”

To console readers (and the now redundant periodistas) Soitu is organising a public memorial for the site on Wednesday in Madrid at 18:00.

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Randall Mays Stepping Down As President, CFO Clear Channel

A year after the $24 billion leveraged buyout of Clear Channel Communications by Bain Capital and THL Partners, a member of the family that founded and once controlled the broadcast giant is stepping away from daily operations. Randall Mays will give up the dual roles of president and CFO next month, moving to vice chairman and an emphasis on strategic advice, according to a memo obtained by DealBook. His brother Mark remains as CEO and will add back “president”—a title he held before his brother. Randall will stay as CFO until a successor is found. It’s been a tough few years for Clear Channel; (NYSE: CCMO) the buyout turned into a tortured two-year process with changing partners and a post-deal restructuring, while radio and outdoor advertising have been hit hard in the ad downturn. Revenues were down 21 percent in Q2.


GSI Commerce Buys Up E-Commerce Sites Rue La La, SmartBargains In $350 Million Deal

E-commerce solutions firm GSI Commerce is buying up Retail Convergence, the owner of invitation-only, discounted luxury shopping site Rue La La and discount shopping site SmartBargains for up to $350 million. GSI is paying $180 million in cash and stock, along with a $170 million earn out. Rue La La partnered with Hachette Filipacchi’s Elle.com this summer so that Elle.com readers could get access to some of its two-day long sales. At the time, Retail Convergence CEO Ben Fischman told us that his company was looking at additional media deals.

In a statement, GSI Commerce says the purchase of the two properties will give its customers—who it already provides with services like back-end technology needed to run their e-commerce stores and interactive marketing—will now have a “new way of selling opportunistic inventory.” GSI’s last major acquisition was its purchase of e-mail marketing and newsletters firm e-Dialog for $157 million in January 2008. More in the release.

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Circle of Eight Sells You Some Dew, But Still Pulls You in

Embedda-Scare-A-Thon continues! Four days left until Halloween!

It’s the oldest trick in the book, but starting your story with a flash of how it will end still makes for a helluva opening scene. And that’s how Circle of Eight, a MySpace exclusive series produced by Paramount Pictures and sponsored up the wazoo by PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew, begins — with a fire, a countdown, and a falling body to pull in the curious and intrigued.

Circle of Eight, launching today with three episodes, is more puzzle than narrative, deliberately obtuse and confusing but still compelling. The story’s beginning is a simple one: A young woman moves to the big city from a land consisting mostly of “cows and churches,” taking a creepy furnished apartment in a creepy building where the creepy landlord keeps his office in the elevator. But as Jessica (Austin Highsmith) begins to meet her fellow tenants, and as viewers take in some of the clues dropped like breadcrumbs along the way, it becomes apparent that whatever goes wrong might not be the fault of the obvious sources. It might even come from Jessica herself.

Well-produced and well-acted by a largely unknown cast (the only member I recognized is DJ Qualls from Road Trip and Hustle and Flow, who plays a supporting role), Circle of Eight is a studio-level production on several levels. I mean, Mark Mothersbaugh is the composer. He was in Devo!

The series’ MySpace page proudly boasts that the player is powered by Adobe Flash, and they’re right to be proud. Each episode includes embedded interactive elements within the video, and a separate trivia game component encourages viewers to rewatch and pay closer attention. The site’s combination of passive and active interaction is clean and relatively easy to navigate.

There are some discordant elements scattered throughout the experience, especially the choice to hide clues from the in-video sections in the label of a bottle of Mountain Dew. Because it’s worth saying out loud that a beverage most closely associated in my mind with adolescent skateboarders living extreme might not be the best product fit with a spooky puzzle mystery. Not to mention the fact that you shouldn’t bother trying to be clever about doing things like dialing the number on the bottle label — you just get connected to the PepsiCo customer support line.

As protagonists go, it’s hard to connect with Jessica, who’s clearly running from her secrets and deliberately avoiding any sort of interesting connection with her fellow tenants. But the third episode ends with enough of a bang to make me want to come back for more, and two more episodes of 10 will be released next week, followed by a weekly release schedule to be followed by a DVD re-edit sold by Blockbuster. Part of me would have enjoyed plowing through the entire series today in an experience similar to the HBO Imagine project. But for today, at least, I’m definitely hooked.

Scare-o-meter: 4 — only one real scare effect, and the overall ambiance could be more eerie. But the first few minutes definitely pack a punch.



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Jayson Blair To Speak At Journalism Ethics Institute

LEXINGTON, Va. — Disgraced ex-New York Times reporter Jayson Blair will be the featured speaker at a Virginia journalism ethics seminar.

Blair will speak on "Lessons Learned" Nov. 6 at Washington and Lee University's Journalism Ethics Institute.

He resigned from the Times in 2003 after an investigation found he had plagiarized or fabricated major portions of articles he had written during four years with the newspaper.

For the past two years, he has been working as a certified life coach for a mental-health practice in northern Virginia.


Kilar: Hulu Isn’t ‘Giving It Away For Free’

Hulu CEO Jason Kilar responded to TV industry critics who complain that Hulu is undermining current models, saying they haven’t seen his business plan. Talking to B&C after the closing session of Denver, Colorado, cable conference CTAM, Kilar said, “We’re very bullish about the future of Hulu, we’re well ahead of plan.”

He wouldn’t comment on whether the site was profitable but added, “I like to say that I’m a capitalist,” adding “We don’t do this overnight.“ Hulu recently signed an upfront deal with MediaVest, which transferred a couple of million dollars from the media agency’s TV budget to the Website. Hulu is also exploring subscription areas of its service, which provides network TV content without charge to consumers.

For the rest of the story, go to Broadcasting & Cable.

This story has been provided by our content partner Broadcasting & Cable.


Bill O’Reilly Tops All Cable News Competition By 1 Million+ Monday

Cable news ratings, October 26, 2009: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

Bill O’Reilly once again had the top cable news show last night, in total viewers and the A25-54 demographic. The 8pmET FNC host was well ahead of even the 2nd best show – by more than one million total viewers and more than 300,000 demo viewers.

Lou Dobbs at 7pmET topped the beginning of CNN’s prime time, Campbell Brown’s 8pmET show, in both total viewers and the demo. In fact, Dobbs beat all of CNN’s prime time line-up in total viewers.

Check out all the ratings below, and leave your own thoughts in the comments:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

 

669

Blitzer

 

126

Matthews

 

123

Prime

 

95

6 pm Baier

 

456

Blitzer

 

163

EdShow

 

127

Prime

 

83

7 pm Shep

 

458

Dobbs

 

169

Matthews

 

261

Issues

 

119

8 pm O’Reilly

 

998

Brown

 

168

Olbermann

 

330

Grace

 

362

9 pm Hannity

 

628

King

 

207

Maddow

 

252

Behar

 

155

10 pm Greta

 

459

Cooper

 

180

Olbermann

 

264

Grace

 

263

11 pm O’Reilly

 

514

Cooper

 

116

Maddow

 

151

Showbiz

 

305

TOTAL DAY 393 132 131 181
PRIME TIME 696 185 282 255
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

 

2592

Blitzer

 

636

Matthews

 

510

Prime

 

294

6 pm Baier

 

2201

Blitzer

 

552

EdShow

 

551

Prime

 

303

7 pm Shep

 

1902

Dobbs

 

616

Matthews

 

789

Issues

 

412

8 pm O’Reilly

 

3624

Brown

 

493

Olbermann

 

1133

Grace

 

885

9 pm Hannity

 

2306

King

 

588

Maddow

 

913

Behar

 

416

10 pm Greta

 

1864

Cooper

 

458

Olbermann

 

731

Grace

 

476

11 pm O’Reilly

 

1444

Cooper

 

322

Maddow

 

435

Showbiz

 

545

TOTAL DAY 1522 486 435 377
PRIME TIME 2600 513 926 578
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.