Did we ever pay for content?

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In an essay that, on first blush, ranks near to Clay Shirky’s seminal thinking-the-unthinkable think piece, Paul Graham argues that we never paid for content:

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren’t really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn’t better content cost more?

A copy of Time costs $5 for 58 pages, or 8.6 cents a page. The Economist costs $7 for 86 pages, or 8.1 cents a page. Better journalism is actually slightly cheaper.

Almost every form of publishing has been organized as if the medium was what they were selling, and the content was irrelevant. Book publishers, for example, set prices based on the cost of producing and distributing books. They treat the words printed in the book the same way a textile manufacturer treats the patterns printed on its fabrics.

Information – Bloomberg terminals, stock newsletters – is a different business. Publishers flatter themselves when they argue they are in it.

What happens to publishing if you can’t sell content? You have two choices: give it away and make money from it indirectly, or find ways to embody it in things people will pay for.

The first is probably the future of most current media. Give music away and make money from concerts and t-shirts. Publish articles for free and make money from one of a dozen permutations of advertising. Both publishers and investors are down on advertising at the moment, but it has more potential than they realize.

I’m not claiming that potential will be realized by the existing players. The optimal ways to make money from the written word probably require different words written by different people….

The reason I’ve been writing about existing forms is that I don’t know what new forms will appear. But though I can’t predict specific winners, I can offer a recipe for recognizing them. When you see something that’s taking advantage of new technology to give people something they want that they couldn’t have before, you’re probably looking at a winner. And when you see something that’s merely reacting to new technology in an attempt to preserve some existing source of revenue, you’re probably looking at a loser.

Fox News Responds To Rick Sanchez: “Sucker,” “Gift That Keeps On Giving”

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Fox News has responded to CNN's Rick Sanchez over his reaction to their ad saying that other networks missed the story of the 9/12 protest march in Washington.

When asked about their competitors' reaction to the ad, a FOX executive laughed and said, "Thank you very much, and a special thanks to Rick Sanchez who has always been a sucker. He's a gift that keeps on giving."

Sanchez ran a segment Friday in which he said to Fox News, "You lie."

CNN ran its own ad responding to Fox News' ad, saying that Fox News was "distorting, not reporting."

Ann Curry Tweets About Her Plane Making an Emergency Landing After Oil Leak

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Curry AhmAnn Curry revealed via her Twitter feed earlier today that her return flight from Iran was forced to make an emergency landing today because of an oil leak. Curry was returning from Iran where she interviewed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran (video inside). While her interview with the Iranian leader had some dramatic moments, things got much dicier on Curry’s flight home.

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From the AP.
A clip from Curry’s interview:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Kneale Fails CNBC Tryout; Tweets “Up Yours” to Bloggers On The Way Out

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19622After a five-month tryout anchoring CNBC’s 8 p.m. hour, former Wall Street Journal and Forbes editor Dennis Kneale has been cancelled.

He broke the news himself on Twitter — taking one last (desperate) shot at bloggers, the same “mean-spirited” miscreants who he lashed out at earlier this summer, deriding them as “digital dickweed,” in what his producer called a moment of ‘poetry, the best thing he’d done for the show.’

After announcing the end of his run, invoking Douglas MacArthur and The Terminator, Kneale rattled off a series of tweets that echoed his assertive, combative tone on television but with explicit bitterness and a latent sense of insecurity:

Kneale breaks the news:

In response to a fan who signaled his approval for the cancellation, asking “What took so long?”:

On his replacement at the 8 p.m. hour — documentaries:

And finally, to drive the point home :
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Save the appeals for validation, Dennis. It’s not personal, it’s TV. But isn’t there some sinister irony here: a cancelled cable news anchor tweeting his disdain for bloggers, while rubbing it in their faces that he still has some airtime?

Earlier: CNBC Burns Airtime on Blogger “Morons” and “Dickweeds”

Barrett Brown: Robert McCain Fine With Pregnancy Among Religious Teens — Just Not Minority Teens

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A study that's set to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Reproductive Health which indicates that religious communities tend to produce higher teen birth rates is prompting the usual nonsense from the usual quarters. Former Washington Times editor Robert Stacy McCain, for instance, finds it suspicious that a journal on reproductive health would publish a paper on a matter of reproductive health; clearly, an ulterior motive is at work:

The objective of this study? To convince college-educated middle-class people that religious faith is the No. 1 force for evil in the modern world. "OMG! If we let our daughter go to church, kiss Vassar good-bye!"

Like everyone associated with the Washington Times, McCain knows that each and every study resulting in data that could be potentially inconvenient in relation to the tenets of scattershot conservatism are conceived and implemented in service to atheistic materialism, which is how he is able to discern the politics and character of any researcher in the world with just a cursory glance at a third-party summary of their yet-to-be-released paper. He is a very talented fellow. I'm going to stop being sarcastic for a second here even though refraining from sarcasm in a situation such as this causes me actual physical pain.

McCain takes a risky approach to dismissing the findings as not only politically-motivated, but also irrelevant -- he actually gives us an example of a woman who found herself pregnant at the age of 13, this being Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor. The fact that a member of the royal family of England had a son who did something swell, he implies, indicates that teen pregnancy is no big problem, because, hey, Henry Tudor.

My four or five regular readers will not be surprised that I have taken the liberty of Googling around a bit to see what The Other McCain actually thinks about teen pregnancy when he's not trying to downplay its importance in defense of the religious. And anyone familiar with people like McCain will be similarly not-so-astonished to learn that he does indeed worry about teen pregnancy rates when it is black and Hispanic mothers who are getting pregnant, having scolded the New York Times for not sufficiently highlighting the "demographics" of a study on the subject done just last year. Of course, there are "demographics," and then there are "demographics." Likewise, there are "respectable commentators," and then there are "people who used to serve as editors at the shittiest national paper in the country."

Apple as Media Distributor

This post is by John Gruber from Daring Fireball

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Tristan Louis on where iTunes LP suggests Apple is heading:

The components all seem to be there and it seems to me that it won’t be long before Apple starts pushing the idea that we are all content producers (an old idea at Apple, which was at the source of their creating the iLife suite) and we can all make some money at producing that content.

Danny DeVito Shows Jimmy Fallon His Boy’s Soul

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devito fallonLast night Danny DeVito was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and fans of his quietly-getting-ginormous TV show, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, were treated to a musical rendition of an awesome in-joke: The Roots played DeVito in with a swingin’ rendition of “Troll Toll” from the Always Sunny musical, The Nightman Cometh. See? Total in-joke. Here it is, in a nutshell: Danny DeVito plays the Troll who demands a Toll from the Nightman who wants the Boy’s soul. Line: “You’ve got to pay the Troll Toll if you want to get into this boy’s soul.” What else does “Boy’s Soul?” sound like? Exactly.

Anyhow: Aside from the opening (er, no pun intended), it was a great interview — Fallon got DeVito talking about Taxi (oddly, not even a reference to Fallon’s movie of the same name) and Always Sunny (on Kaitlin Olsen: “the funniest woman on TV”; The McPoyle Brothers: “these guys walk around with their own jar of Vaseline!”), and his own Danny DeVito brand on Limoncello. Yes – Danny DeVito’s Limoncello, inspired by his infamous drunk-on-The View incident (”I knew that it was the last seven Limoncello’s that was gonna get me“). Fallon says that restarateur Mario Batali only uses it in his kitchens. Here it is for $24.95 if you would like to purchase some. Good things come from showing up drunk on The View!

Other DeVito news: Go here to see his new Facebook page, here to follow him on Twitter, and here him naked on Always Sunny.

The video is below; it’s the full ep, so skip to the second tab at 17:08.

Megan Fox Stimulus: Media Leaves No Stone Unturned

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30096918-30096919-largeJournalists and mediaites might have been a little bitter that they missed out on federal stimulus. But thank god for Megan Fox — a more potent stimulus package than Obama himself could have dreamed up.

Who needs news when we have Megan? Her new movie, “Jennifer’s Body,” premiered this weekend, and everyone with a pen is itching to write about the film’s star.

After Rolling Stone posted a gallery of Megan Fox photos shot for the October 1 issue but withheld the text to draw paid subscriptions, everyone from the Daily News to Perez Hilton has begun reporting on the Rolling Stone feature. Defamer’s Richard Rushfield has a great round-up of the coverage of the coverage.

Meanwhile, the writer behind the movie, Diablo Cody, has her own idea of stimulus:
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Our idea of stimulus: ">800 pairs of Megan Fox’s Boobs

See the “Jennifer’s Body” Trailer here.

Cody on Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen this morning (below).

Wave and news

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When Google Wave was announced, I got all jittery-happy about the possibilities it presented for news. Now, from a Belgian site, via a German site, I find a video interview with Wave’s project manager, Stephanie Hannon, speculating about its use in news:

Google Wave, une opportunité pour les journalistes ? from Labs RTBF on Vimeo.

In that video, the interviewer asked about the newsroom moving to the cloud. But in this one, Sergey Brin says it’s already there:

“Les rédactions sont déjà dans le nuages” Sergey Brin (Google President) from Labs RTBF on Vimeo.

Snubbed By Obama, Fox News’s Chris Wallace Calls White House “Biggest Bunch Of Crybabies I’ve Ever Seen” (VIDEO)

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On Friday night, "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace was a guest on Bill O'Reilly to complain about President Obama's decision to skip Fox News when he makes the rounds of the Sunday news programs to push health care reform.

Ironically, Wallace was the one to accuse the Obama administration of "childishness," saying: "They are the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington."

Wallace expressed surprise that the administration chose a Spanish-language network ("Univision!") over Fox News and looked back fondly on his treatment by the Reagan administration.


Boggle for iPhone and iPod Touch

This post is by John Gruber from Daring Fireball

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My thanks to EA Mobile for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Boggle, their classic word search game for iPhone and iPod Touch. Shake to mix the dice, touch-and-drag to trace out the words you find, and beat the clock to spell as many as you can. And then curse your feeble mind regarding the ones you missed when the list of all possible words appears at the end.

Trust me, if you like word games, Boggle is addictive. Just $2.99 at the App Store.

NYT Co. CEO and Chairman Overpaid; At Least Somebody Is Making Money at the Times

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arthur072108Here’s a story you’ve probably read in the New York Times: Chief executives at a major company, let’s say a bank, accumulate personal fortunes through bonuses and other compensation channels while their company wilts and withers under financial strain.

But on Friday that story hit a little too close to home at the Times.

After the market closed, reports ">Editor and Publisher, the New York Times Co. filed an 8-K form, reporting that NYT Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and CEO Janet Robinson had been overcompensated to the tune of 100,000-plus stock options each.

A 1991 NYT Co. executive incentive plan limits the number of stock options any individual can receive in a given year to 400,000. In 2008, Robinson received 650,000, and then another 500,000 in 2009. Likewise, Sulzberger took home 500,000 options this year. According to the filing, Robinson and Sulzberger have agreed that the excessive options are void. But that concession was little more than a legal dotting of I’s and crossing of T’s.

From E & P:

[T]o compensate the two for the lost value, the board of directors’ compensation committee drafted up a new plan granting “replacement” SARs, or stock appreciation rights.

The so-called “strike price” for these SARs is equal to original exercise price of the null and void excess options. The strike price for the 2008 options is $20.23 a share, and for the 2009 options is $3.62.

The filing revealed that both Robinson and Sulzberger are also eligible for ‘long-term performance awards’ (as if ‘bonus’ has become a dirty word), designed to be worth around $2 mil., but actually worth up to $3.5 mil. But the executive incentive plan mandates that no payment can exceed $3 mil. in a year, so according to the SEC filing the terms of the tri-annual bonuses have been adjusted to honor that cap.

Maybe this isn’t exactly Lloyd Blankfein money, but it’s still a lot. Especially when everyone else has taken a 5% pay cut to their five- and six-digit salaries.

Chris Wallace On White House: “Biggest Bunch Of Crybabies I’ve Seen”

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Picture 5President Barack Obama is making all the media rounds this weekend, going on five Sunday news programs to drum up support for his health care reform. One network not included in his very busy schedule? Fox News. Last night Bill O’Reilly had the host of “Fox News Sunday” Chris Wallace on to discuss the White House’s decision to exclude FNC from Obama’s Sunday tour, and while Wallace seemed to want to take the high road, it got a little juvenile.

Oh the irony. Just after saying just “how petty” this White House is and how it’s nothing like the Reagan Administration, Fox’s Wallace called the Obama administration “the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington.” So much for the high road.

Later in the segment O’Reilly repeatedly made the point (made here before) that Obama is making a big mistake by snubbing Fox News. As we’ve said before, the real debate on health care is between the White House and Fox News.

Attacks on the Obama administration are not uncommon on Fox News, but accusations of bias are often rebutted with the claim that FNC’s primetime hosts are “analysts” or “commenters”, not journalists, and hold themselves to a different standard. It’s worth noting that Chris Wallace is regarded as one of the premier television journalists, not just for Fox, but across the industry. Which makes his comment all the more stunning.

The piece wrapped up with Wallace and O’Reilly agreeing, nay, pleading with the White House to “let Fox Help them.” And they have a point. While the techniques of Fox News is certainly up for debate, it is difficult to argue with the net result — they appear to have more influence in the political discourse right now than any other outlet. Perhaps the Obama administration would be better served engaging with FNC instead of fighting them, because it appears to be a battle that the White House is losing right now.

Weekend Vid Picks: Just Mad About Those Mad Men Parodies!

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While you can hardly say that the AMC hit drama Mad Men isn’t on the public radar, the fact is that it has a lot smaller viewership than, say, CSI: Miami. But all that’s going to change in the next few days, as the 1960s-set rumination on advertising and America is not only up for a bajillion Emmys on Sunday, but (probably more of note) stars Jon Hamm and January Jones will be on Monday’s Oprah.

Which means that now is as good a time for compiling some Mad Men parodies. Because, oh, there have been parodies…

The latest one I’ve seen is courtesy of, oddly, former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre, and co-stars Nate Cordry (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) and Rob Delaney (Coma, Period). The extremely NSFW (for language) short resets Sterling Cooper in the present day — and in Boston.

Also recently, Landline TV produced Mad Men in 60 Seconds, which lampoons the show’s favorite tropes while also perfectly capturing the show’s look and feel. “Scotch!”

In addition, there’s Digital Mad Men, a redubbed (and unembeddable) series of scenes from the show promoting Web 2.0 advertising concepts. Unsurprisingly, it itself is an ad for a digital marketing company.

And back in March, Meshugene Men swapped the ultra-WASPish culture of the show with…the opposite. Featuring Amy Sedaris as Betty Draperberg!

And this is merely scratching the surface — the dilemma of the iconoclastic series. For the more distinctive the show, the easier the parodies come. At least 60s dresses are back in fashion.

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Joseph A. Palermo: Time Magazine Gives Glenn Beck a Rave Review

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Time magazine's cover story on Glenn Beck by David Von Drehle is a clinic for journalism students who wish to learn about faux balance, false equivalencies, straw men, and omissions of important facts. Nowhere in this piece does Mr. Drehle mention the fact that sixty-two of Beck's sponsors have yanked their ad buys to distance their companies from Beck's recent charge that President Barack Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." And although Drehle tells the story of Beck's successful effort at drumming out Van Jones from President Obama's green jobs team, nowhere does he bother to inform his readers that Jones had been a co-founder of ColorofChange.org, the group responsible for the advertiser boycott. These stories are all over the web so Drehle is either a terrible journalist or he purposefully omitted them.

In the first paragraph, Drehle refers to crowd estimates of Beck's recent "9/12" rally in Washington, D. C.: "If you get your information from liberal sources, the crowd numbered about 70,000, many of them greedy racists." Drehle chooses not to include another Beck story that is also all over the web and was featured on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, of Beck speculating on FOX the morning after the rally that "the University of -- I don't remember" scientifically analyzed the gathering and estimated it to be "1.7 million" people. This lie was repeated by right-wing sources, including Michelle Malkin, throughout the news cycle that day only to be handily debunked. The statistician, Nate Silver, calculated the crowd to be about 70,000, and nowhere can be found any "liberal source" calling them "greedy racists." Drehle not only serves up a straw man in his opening paragraph but let's Beck off the hook for his wildly exaggerated claim of the size of his protest.

Drehle doesn't waste any time with his faux balance between "left" and "right." In paragraph five he draws a comparison "[b]etween the liberal fantasies about Brownshirts at town halls and the conservative concoctions of brainwashed children goose-stepping to school." But he doesn't tell us who these liberals are who "fantasized" about Brownshirts at the health care town halls. He must be referring to those of us who denounced the tactics of deliberately shouting down public meetings in an attempt to drown out civil discourse, which was indeed a common practice of various thuggish right-wing groups in Italy, Germany, and elsewhere in the 1920s and 1930s. As far as "goose-stepping children" goes, Drehle must be referring to the American Right's freak-out about the President of the United States addressing the nation's school children to urge them to study hard and to succeed. How that bizarre view of an innocuous presidential address equals the spectacles we saw in August of near violence breaking out at town halls Drehle leaves to his readers to figure out.

Drehle acknowledges that Beck's shtick plays on the raw emotions of fear and anger (two reptilian instincts that bring out the worst in people), yet he seems enthralled by him for doing so: "Beck has emerged as a virtuoso on the strings of their discontent." Fanning the flames of Americans' basest instincts for fun and profit? Who on the Left is doing that on the public airwaves?

Drehle's longest quote from Beck in the article is from Beck's teary-eyed soliloquy about wishing the nation could return to that mythical time right after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Nowhere does Drehle bother to contemplate the possibility that Beck might be crassly exploiting the fear and anguish caused by the 9/11 attacks for his own political and pecuniary purposes just as the Bush/Cheney administration did for seven plus years.

Beck described his shtick to Drehle calling it "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment," and Drehle praises Beck for his "flexible narrative" that "often contains genuinely uncomfortable truths." Drehle tells his readers about Beck's most recent obsession with President Obama's policy czars "whom Beck fears Obama is using to subvert constitutional government -- and he has some radical-sounding sound bites to back it up." But Drehle chooses to omit the fact that George W. Bush had appointed even more "czars" than Obama, and that the whole "controversy" is just another desperate and hypocritical Republican talking point. If Drehle really believes that Beck "fears" a constitutional breach by the Obama White House then why does he choose NOT to explore exactly what part of the Constitution is being "subverted" and what are Beck's credentials as a constitutional scholar to make such a claim? And if Beck describes himself first as an "entertainer" then why should we take seriously any of his "fears" about the "threat" to the Constitution that Obama poses? Drehle leaves these obvious questions unanswered.

Perhaps the best example of Drehle's false equivalency that grants legitimacy to Beck's brand of red-baiting hate speech is this: "We're in the flood stage, and who's to blame?," he writes. "The answer is like the estimates of the size of the crowd in Washington: Whom do you trust? Either the corrupt, communist-loving traitors on the left are causing this, or it's the racist, greedy warmongers on the right, or maybe the dishonest, incompetent, conniving media, which refuse to tell the truth about whomever you personally happen to despise." Here Drehle gets to stand back and remove himself from the pettiness of American politics. He transcends all. He's neither "right" nor "left" nor part of the "dishonest, incompetent, conniving media" -- he's the disembodied glib voice of reason. The only problem with this artificial construction is that Drehle is writing a cover story for the most politically influential newsweekly in the corporate media.

And he dropped the ball.

Perhaps there are "synergies" between Time Inc. and Beck Inc.'s media production companies? Or maybe Drehle doesn't want to piss Beck off because he might be asking him for a gig at some later date -- (print journalism is a tough business these days). In any case, it is a terrible disservice to Time readers to have such a glowing and legitimizing article on a person who is becoming richer each day by playing on the fear and anger of his fellow citizens in a period of economic crisis and practicing the same despicable tactics as Joseph McCarthy.

CNN Ad Hits Back At Fox News: “Fox News: Distorting, Not Reporting” (VIDEO)

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As HuffPost's Jason Linkins reported earlier today, Fox News took out a full-page ad in the Friday addition of the Washington Post to boast about its coverage of the Tea Party protests last weekend in D.C. and also to goad its rivals by asking "How Did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN Miss This Story?"

A number of these networks didn't take the Fox News ad lying down, and fired back, saying the ad was "just false." CNN's Rick Sanchez gave an even more colorful response (watch here) in which he said, "Let me address the Fox News Network now perhaps the most current way that I can, by quoting somebody who recently used a very pithy phrase, two words. It's all I need: You lie," the AP reports.

Now, Media Matters reports, Sanchez's network aired an ad this evening that strikes back at Fox News' claim. The ad's slogan: "Fox News: Distorting, Not Reporting."