TONY Adds Sex and Dating Section, Newsstand Sales Climax

Picture 2“I like women who are open-minded and spontaneous, and comfortable with the skin they are in. Inner beauty and depth hold just as much importance as outer beauty. I tend to be physically attracted to dark and exotic features, with a great body to match,” writes Patrick, a model, dancer and go-go boy from Astoria, Queens.

Sounds like something from the more polite cut of Craiglist MSW listings, but no: It’s a personal ad from Time Out New York.

Halfway through his second year as editor in chief, Michael Freidson has learned the limits and rewards of sexy content in TONY by experience. Earlier this year July, Freidson added a “Sex and Dating” section to the magazine — a marked departure from movie reviews and party listings.

From the New York Times:

The magazine, a weekly better known for its exhaustive cultural and restaurant listings, introduced a “Sex and Dating” section in early July. Along with articles on finding strippers and getting checked for sexually transmitted diseases, it features photos of local singles in the hunt, with e-mail contact information.

“I want sex and dating to be another brand for us, just like we cover theater, music, film and museums,” said Michael Freidson, who became editor in chief of the magazine in February 2008. “But I don’t want it to be the dominant category.”

Oh, and by the way, he doesn’t mention that sex really does sell: TONY’s newsstand sales are up almost 25% over last summer.

Even though the magazine has picked up some new readers, some of the title’s faithful following are less than pleased to see sexed-up content. One reader wrote on TONY’s website, “I think I am in the demographic that this is supposed to appeal to, but I really just want to see listings and articles about NY. Not porn.” The next time Freidson prints something like nude reader photos, look for them in the back pages.

Outed ‘Skank’ Blogger Says Victim Was Asking For It

Picture 4Rosemary Port, the 29-year-old anonymous “skank” blogger who was outed by Google after a court order forced the company to reveal the identity of the person behind the blog “Skanks in NYC,” which attacked former model Liskula Cohen, feels exposed. Also angry at Google for violating her privacy. Port has apparently discovered the blogosphere is not so cozy without an anonymous handle to protect you! Not only that, according to Port, Cohen was asking for it.

Port, who has not enjoyed all the name calling the press has been firing her way since her outing last week, is now taking Google to court for revealing her identity, because the fact the the Founding Fathers wrote ‘The Federalist Papers’ under pseudonyms somehow means she should also be allowed to slander with anonymous impunity, but bear no responsibility for the outcome. Says Port to the Daily News:

“This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing…By going to the press, she defamed herself. Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my Web site: One from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it. That was before it became a spectacle. I feel my right to privacy has been violated.”

“By going to the press, she defamed herself.” If all else fails blame the victim! Especially if she is pretty. This from Port’s lawyer is also suggesting Cohen brought all this on herself:

“The pictures she posted are more scandalous than any words,” Strazzullo charged. “Ms. Cohen loves the spotlight. She brought this notoriety on herself. Then she used a PR circus to defame my client.”

This is basically the online equivalent of, she was wearing a short dress so she deserved it. The pictures he’s referring to, by the way are ones Cohen apparently posted of herself, fully clothed, at a private party “apparently simulating sex with a fully clothed man. (Cohen did post a slightly saucy shot of herself on all fours inside Cipriani’s.)” Really? If this argument had any legs to it than practically every person with a Facebook page is necessarily inviting the sort of name calling Cohen endured. Though now, thanks to Cohen, every name caller may now be inviting a court case!

At the moment, Port mostly just sounds like a sore loser, caught doing shameful things she was unwilling to publicly admit to, which is primarily the motivation behind most anonymous internet activity, come to think of it. And apparently Port should have read the fine lines in her Blogger agreement, which states the company can “share personal information if required by a legal action.” One imagines a lot of people are going to be reading that a bit more closely now. Interestingly, the most shocking part still seems to be the fact Cohen complained at all. There is a subtle how dare she, sort of amazement to be found in much of the coverage, not to mention Diane Sawyer’s interview the other day. Anonymous name-calling is regarded a way-of-life on the Internet. As such, it will be interesting to see whether Port’s case against goes anywhere. While Cohen deserves credit for having the guts to file the court case to begin with, too many internet users enjoy their anonymity too much to go down without a fight. How long till Port becomes the rallying point for the lonely, angry, and anonymous everywhere.

Hey, It’s August – Is Castro Dead Again?

castro deadWho remembers August 2007, before election fever swept the country in earnest? The news biz was in its usual doldrums, save the odd debate or two, and nothing much was going on. Except Fidel Castro dying, that is – every week!

Our pals over at Gossip Cop point out that today marks the two-year anniversary of Perez Hilton’s excited claim that the longtime Cuban dictator was muerto, following up with more emphatic claims here and here. The rumors were unconfirmed by any other news source (though they were picked up widely), but still Perez stuck by his story, saying on the Jimmy Kimmel show: “If he’s not dead, I’ll turn straight.”

So — what happened? Well, Perez is still gay — and as far as we can tell, Castro is still alive. Perez was by far the most emphatic, but he was not alone in the Castro death -rumormongering, which had a life of its own that August, not to mention before and after.

Since then, Castro has hung on, surfacing here and there to enjoy the writings of Alan Greenspan, hand over power to his brother Raoul, and share his thoughts on Rahm Emanuel.

Meanwhile, the “is he dead?” rumor mill seems to have abated, perhaps because he finally passed on power, or perhaps because we can’t bear to think of life without images of him chilling in his stylin’ tracksuit. One thing is certain: When he does die, Perez will be there, waiting to put coke dots around his nose. Viva la Revolución!

ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE TO PEREZ HILTON BEING DEAD WRONG [Gossip Cop]

Related:
Chronicle of a rumour foretold [The Economist]
Finale for Fidel? Castro Gets Buried In Rumors — Again [WSJ]
Castro Dead: Truth or Perez? [ETP]
Castro Lives! Cuban Dictator Is Alive and Well and Reading Alan Greenspan
[ETP]

Perez Hilton, Keeper of Castro’s Secrets:
Is Castro Dead??? [Perez Hilton]
An Official Announcement Is Coming [Perez Hilton]
Still Dead [Perez Hilton]

Same Story, Different Year:
Is Castro Really Dead? Who Cares? Not Jonah Goldberg! Corroboration’s For Suckers!
[ETP]

UPDATED: Glamour’s Plus-Sized Win: Tipping Point For ‘More’ to Come?

Picture 1A three-by-three photo on page 194 of the September issue of Glamour has made a plus-sized splash with readers. Could the amount of positive feedback be a sign of things to come? Or is Glamour’s plus-sized roll-out just a play to afford normal readers a sense of comfort in the world of flat bellies and diet tips?

Editor in chief Cindi Leive relayed some of the letters she has received from readers about the photograph in a post to one of Glamour’s blogs, Vitamin G:

“The most amazing photograph I’ve ever seen in any women’s magazine,” wrote one reader in Pavo, Georgia. From another in Somerset, Massachusetts: “This beautiful woman has a real stomach and did I even see a few stretch marks? This is how my belly looks after giving birth to my two amazing kids! This photo made me want to shout from the rooftops.”

The model, 20-year-old Lizzi Miller, also known as “the woman on p. 194,” is a size 12-14. For all intents and purposes, she looks totally “normal,” according to Leive, but she’s definitely not what we’re used to seeing in the pages of a women’s magazine. Sure, from time to time we see attempts at renormalizing curvy girls in print, but these usually feel artificial and calculated — more of just a chance for magazines to pat themselves on the back.

Jezebel has consistently chimed in about magazines’ attempts to include images of women with every body type. Following the release of the May issue of Glamour earlier this year, Jezebel applauded the title for filling its feature well with photos of women of every shape wearing swimsuits, before noting that immediately following the feature there was a hard cut back to weight-loss drivel.

That’s why after this uplifting series of shapes and sizes, the VERY NEXT PAGE is: Hey, lose weight! That is a command! Whether or not you need to lose weight, you should probably take off say, 8, 10 or 12 pounds. We’ll show you how! Feel free to keep doing crunches, LOL.

Jezebel and her commenters gave a roar of approval to the picture of Miller in the September issue:

On its own, the picture may not seem that incredible, but after flipping through 193 pages of uniform sample-size models, the image is striking. Rather than thinning her via Photoshop or having her sit in an unnatural pose, the model is shown with a bit of belly hanging over her underwear and slightly-bulging thighs, looking happy and genuinely confident.

But still a caveat for Glamour:

But still, being the ladymag with the most body diversity isn’t that hard when your competition is Vogue. Both pictures of Miller were included in articles about body acceptance and May’s plus-size swimsuit spread was a rarity. Every other model featured in this month’s Glamour was very thin.

Newsweek’s The Human Condition blog also picked up on the picture, showing pleasant surprise at the way a roll of Miller’s paunch was featured so unabashedly. And Miller looks so happy with her body:

The spread is typical of the women’s magazines I normally roll my eyes at: “self esteem” squeezed between pages of emaciated cheekbones, jutting shoulder blades and gangly arms. Except that this time, I do a double-take. The girl on page 194 of the September issue of Glamour is Lizzi Miller, a 20-year-old model with—get ready—a roll in her stomach.

Glamour’s September issue has clearly tipped something in the dialogue about plus-sized (er… normal-sized) models. Newsweek’s Human Condition really got it right: The picture itself is what is really groundbreaking here. Never before have women’s glossy readers seen a model showing off a roll of fat with such joy. As for Jezebel’s continued gripes, we think that photos of rolls will be restricted to articles about body acceptance for the foreseeable future; normal in gloss will never be normal in real life. It’s called Glamour magazine, after all.

Then again, Leive writes: “Trust me, Glamour’s listening, and this only strengthens our commitment to celebrating all kinds of beauty.” We’ll see if that ‘celebration’ will occur on a regular basis, not just when body acceptance is on the docket.

Update: Leive went on the Today show this morning to discuss reactions to the photo. “Will it change out approach — I think it will.”

Where In The World Is Obama? A Question You’ll Never Need to Ask Again

Picture 3Up until now we were under the impression that CBS’s Mark Knoller’s twitter was all the POTUS tracking one person could need or want. Following Knoller, following the President, is the next best thing to having the President sign up for FourSquare. Want to know what hole Obama is on in his frequent rounds of golf? Curious what flavor of ice cream the Obama girls ordered? Knoller’s on it. However! The Washington Post has decided to take POTUS tracking to another level.

Today the Post launched PotusTracker, an interactive site which aims to provide “in-depth information and analysis on President Obama’s schedule — including, but not limited to: daily briefings, meetings, phone calls, news conferences, overseas trips, and recreation.” All the President that’s fit to digitally interact with!

Using the Internet to create greater transparency about what’s going on in Washington is not a new idea, in fact much of the WhiteHouse.gov was redesigned with the idea of transparency in mind (though they have arguably completely dropped the ball where the health care debate is concerned). It’s also one of the enormous benefits of the huge technological advances we’ve made on the Internet. But wow, this tracker, while providing a great visual report of how much time Obama is spending on various issues, is aiming for such detail one wonders if the President will be able to use the bathroom without someone noting the statistics of his decision thereof.

Of course, all this interest is in part a measure of the sort of celebrity Obama engenders, but it’s also hard not to wonder if it had been available eight years ago, whether George W. Bush et al. would have been able to get away with everything we are only now discovering that they managed to get away with.

Scottish Judge Who Released Lockerbie Bomber to Answer Critics

macaskill_8-24The outrage over the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi has continued since last week, and the Scottish Justice Secretary who secured the release will face critics today.

Kenny MacAskill will speak before the Scottish Parliament during an emergency session at 9:30amET. And the way it is being reported overseas, MacAskill has a lot to answer for.

The BBC report on MacAskill’s upcoming speech includes this as the 2nd paragraph: “Opposition parties will demand to know how Kenny MacAskill aims to repair the damage they claim has been done to Scotland’s global reputation.”

On U.K. TV, the story is getting major coverage (according to TV Eyes). Here in the U.S., the story of the outrage over the release has gotten more coverage than just what MacAskill has to say. The reaction from the families of the Lockerbie victims has been the biggest part of the story – of the 243 killed on the Pan-Am flight, 189 were Americans.

But will MacAskill’s statement later this morning signal greater coverage of the judge himself? One person in the U.S. media who sympathized with MacAskill last week was NBC’s Ann Curry. In a post on the Daily Nightly blog last Thursday, Curry wrote:

Still, watching videotape of Scottish Justice Secretary MacAskill, the man who made the decision, you get the sense he’s a decent guy.

Here’s how he put it:

“Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs we seek to live by … no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated.”

For better or worse, that is not an idea in sync with these times we live in.

Describing the person who released the convicted terrorist as a “decent guy” is not a sentiment that will be very popular here in the U.S.

The other major story in England, that has crossed over to the U.S. through some news outlets and major weekend play on Drudge, is what U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s involvement in the release may have been. If it’s shown that Brown pressured Scotland, or even supported Scotland, in the release of al-Megrahi, the outrage here in the U.S. will continue.

But a new storyline will come from this morning’s speech.

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MSM’s Scary Impotence When Faced With Death Panels

abc_this_week_panel_090215_mn A week or so ago I suggested that the health care debate was a great opportunity for the beleaguered mainstream media — newspapers, network news — to prove “in a slow and deliberate way” it was still relevant.

There is so much disinformation flying around at the moment wouldn’t it be great to have someone in the media who had at their disposal the time and resources, step in and separate fact from fiction. And we mean really separate it in a slow and deliberate way.

Have they managed to do so in the interim? If they have there’s certainly no evidence of it. Howie Kurtz hits the nail on the head with this line from today’s column:

In many ways, news organizations have risen to the occasion; in others they have become agents of distortion. But even when they report the facts, they have had trouble influencing public opinion…Perhaps journalists are no more trusted than politicians these days, or many folks never saw the knockdown stories. But this was a stunning illustration of the traditional media’s impotence.

Emphasis mine. What’s especially scary about this “stunning illustration” is that Kurtz isn’t suggesting the MSM didn’t give Death Panel coverage its best shot; he highlights a slew of occasions where both news anchors and reporters attempted to get the facts out. But to little avail. The death panel phrase is still raging. Details of what the health care bill actually says have yet to permeate the masses. (Could you explain it if you were asked to?) Was it merely too complicated a story to cover properly? Is that even an acceptable excuse? The answer is no.

As noted, Kurtz suggests that many outlets did try to dive in and debunk the rumors. The fact of the matter is that they have clearly failed. The only thing worse than the MSM not devoting the time and space that it should to this story, is the MSM devoting the time and space and not having any influence on the public’s understanding of the issue at hand. If we can’t rely on news institutions to rationally explain the complicated (and extremely important) issues of the day in a way that will reach people, than why do we need them at all? Plummeting ad sales and paid content may be at the core of debate over whether traditional media will survive, but it’s becoming ever more apparent that the death panels are just the latest example of whether traditional media deserves to survive, and it raises the question: if the MSM were to disappear would anyone notice?