Newspaper circ stats: Murkier than ever

At a time newspapers ought be striving to earn the confidence of their remaining advertisers, they are reporting not just record low circulation numbers but also the murkiest figures ever. The historic 10.6% drop in circulation reported on Monday would have been trouble enough for the ailing newspaper industry. But publishers managed to make matters worse by taking

The Huffington Post “Big Picture” Launches With Lindsay Lohan

originalLindsay Lohan — large and unedited. That’s how The Huffington Post Entertainment section kicked off a new feature they call The Big Picture in which they “present unedited celebrity photos, blown up.” The daily series, which launched quietly yesterday, is not unlike the popular Boston Globe blog of the same name, but with a slightly different focus.

For instance, whereas the Globe features a month’s worth of giant photos from Afghanistan, HuffPo opted for Lohan at the “Rock the Kasbah event Monday night in Los Angeles,” followed by Sting from a Tuesday night book party. Guaranteed to drive web traffic, The Big Picture’s first pic(k) was a savvy one, as a high resolution image of the starlet reveals far more than you’d expect from a 23-year-old.

We’re taking bets on who The Huffington Post will feature tomorrow, but our money’s on a real looker, to counter Lohan’s vaguely unflattering portrayal or Sting’s neutral appearance. With this new feature, The Huffington Post wins with clicks, and the real losers are the makeup artists to the stars — now under more pressure than ever.

Check out The Big Picture here.

New York Times Buyout Package Discloses Insider Secrets

ny_times_chi_fire_mhsLast week, news spread that the New York Times would need to cut 100 of its 1,250 editorial staffers by year’s end. But instead of just flat-out firing people, the Times decided to lead with a buyout option open to any newsroom employee, which they delivered to everyone the next day.

And when the packages arrived, via UPS Next Day Air, they had some surprising details, as uncovered by the New York Observerwho managed to snag an envelope. The buyout, the Observer is reporting, consists “generally” of “three weeks pay per year of service and up to two years pay for longtime employees.” Times editor Bill Keller explained the option thusly:

[T]he Company will be sending buyout offers to everyone in the newsroom. Getting a buyout package does NOT mean we want you to leave. It is simply easier to send the envelopes to everyone. If you think a buyout may be right for you, you have up to 45 days to decide whether you will accept it or not.

As before, if we do not reach 100 positions through buyouts, we will be forced to go to layoffs. I hope that won’t happen, but it might.

In essence, the paper would dare its employees to consider themselves safe in a twisted journo-job version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma.


The paperwork also includes a list of every single Times employee, sans name, by “department, job title, birth date and age,” including “the printers, the security guards, the reporters.” Then, the Observer broke down some telling numbers:

Editors at the Book Review: 14

Number of Pressman Journeymen at the College Point plant: 106

Reporters at Metro: 50

Size of the Opinion/Editorial Department: 49

Size of Sports Desk: 57

Critics in the Culture Department: 18

Editors at The Times Magazine: 21

Average age of the Obituaries Desk: 58 years old

Size of Thursday Styles: 7

Size of Business Desk: 85

Size of Washington Bureau: 45

Size of the Dallas Sales/Advertising Staff: 4

Size of Week in Review: 5

Total size of Art Department: 113

Size of Dining: 5

Size of Metro: 103

It’s no secret that the paper has been bogged down by a bloated staff and excess legacy costs when nearly every other giant paper in the country tops out at around 700 editorial employees to the Times‘ 1,250, but these numbers are revealing. On one hand, it’s impressive that such seminal sections as the Dining and Thursday Styles run on such little manpower, but a team of 103 for the Metro section of an international paper? Let’s just say it will be interesting to revisit this list again in 3 months, one year and again in five.

When Papers Duel, Readers Win

With news yesterday that the Chicago Sun-Times has been rescued by a group of local businessmen, keeping Chicago a two-newspaper town, we thought we'd see how the two competitors play the big news out of Chicago today; the arrest of two men in a terror plot to attack the Danish paper embroiled in the 2005 Mohammad cartoon controversy....

DuPont’s Social Media Campaign Goes Up in Flames…

NEW YORK ( -- Fiery race-car crashes, exploding oil refineries, policemen shot in the chest at point-blank range -- these are just some of DuPont's new social-media tools. Fearing that it's losing touch with young professionals who don't read traditional media, the chemical giant developed a social-media strategy anchored in viral video. Digging into its archive, it pulled out some of its most spectacular product test and demonstration footage. And this became the core of a series of three-minute programs hosted by video blogger Amanda Congdon and distributed widely across online video sites.

Why Is ESPN’s Ombudsman So Slow? Steve Phillips Gets Lucky

katie-bakes-ii2Here’s a tip for any ESPN employee looking to engage in some good old-fashioned questionable behavior: you may want to time your transgressions to light sometime during the third week of the month. Why? Cause then you can fly under ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer’s radar for at least 30 days.

Since being named to the position this summer, Ohlmeyer has filed three columns at the precise rate of one per month. But in an awkward bit of timing for ESPN, Ohlmeyer’s latest opus went up online on the very same day the New York Post first reported that former Mets GM turned ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips had engaged in an affair with a production assistant 24 years his junior.

The unintentional concurrence highlighted the limitations of the ESPN ombudsman role in its current state. Ohlmeyer’s column, like his previous two pieces, is an affable, storytelling ramble clocking in at over 3,000 words. Unfortunately, the words “sexual harrassment” account for zero of them. In the fast-paced aftermath of the Phillips scandal, which included a wild feud with Deadspin and culminated in the ultimate dismissal of Phillips from ESPN, such silence seems all the more deafening.

The initial Phillips revelation was little more than a juicy tabloid item made marginally relevant by its similarity to David Letterman’s flings. (Three’s a trend: whose extramarital May-December romance will be next?) But underlying the scandal’s cartoonishness was the troubling feeling that we’ve all been here before. Anecdotes about ESPN’s sexually-charged culture crop up with unsettling regularity, with no indication of any improvement over the years.

This point was driven home, however recklessly, by Deadspin’s AJ Daulerio. Fed up with a perceived run-around from the ESPN PR department, Daulerio tossed up on the site a treasure trove of unsavory (and unconfirmed) tips about the rampant “horndoggery” of ESPN employees. Say what you will about the respectability of Daulerio’s retaliation — everyone else has — the posts were a stark reminder of the remarkably toxic environment at ESPN.

“None of this should have happened,” ESPN’s Mark Gross admits to Ohlmeyer in Wednesday’s column. “There are no excuses. It’s embarrassing, and we apologize. Now we have to make sure it never happens again.” A wonderfully strong statement, that! Except … Gross wasn’t referring to the lecherous liaisons of ESPN staffers but rather to the “profoundly unpatriotic act” that occurred when — steel yourself! — a logistical mix-up led to a couple of college football announcers talking over a rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. Yawn.

The rest of the new column proves no more illuminating. We learn, randomly, the Latin roots of the phrase “First, do no harm”. (Ohlmeyer seems to be gunning for William Safire’s old position: he kicked off his debut column by looking up the word “ombudsman” in the dictionary.) Later, dispensing his veteran insider’s wisdom on the difficulties of coordinating programming across eight ESPN networks (spoiler alert: it’s hard), Ohlmeyer builds to the rousing conclusion that “ESPN needs special outreach to communicate the fact that programs following live events can’t always start as scheduled.” Well, then. Doesn’t the company have more than enough, um, “special outreach” going on as it is?

>>>>NEXT: “Fun and frivolity” at ESPN