A couple Revolving Door items for you this morning, involving The New York Times and BuzzFeed. Details are below.Jacob Harris is leaving the Times to join 18F, a digital services company. Harris had been with the Times for nine years, most recently serving as senior digital architect. Venessa Wong is joining BuzzFeed’s business team as a reporter focusing on the food industry. She comes to the site from Bloomberg Businessweek.
SocialTimes: The iOS WhatsApp now has voice calling. Not that you should be calling people. Text them. No one wants to talk on the phone.
GalleyCat: In today’s “news that will make bored people sort of excited,” EL James’ husband is writing the script for the Fifty Shades Darker movie.
TVNewser: Jon Stewart’s version of a Fox News compliment? Saying that The Five is “Not like heroin.”
The forward-thinking instinct has been with Leigh Davenport, Interactive One’s vp of programming, women and lifestyle, and HB Studios, since at least her college days. “I had interned at magazines and really that was the dream, to be a magazine editor,” she told FishbowlNY. But when it was time for Davenport to graduate, the scene had changed. “Magazines were folding left and right, and I thought to myself this might not be a great way to a future, so perhaps I should look at other mediums of storytelling.” That search for alternate forms of storytelling led her initially to television, where she worked her way to VH1 and BET. By 2009, the TV world’s increasing focus on reality programming, a form Davenport didn’t enjoy, would lead to a switch to digital programming.
For the past four years, Davenport has overseen editorial content and strategy for the women-of-color-focused HelloBeautiful.com, as the site reported year-over-year audience gains. Davenport also harnessed her television roots as she oversaw the creation of HB Studios, Interactive One’s digital video production studio targeted to women of color.
If the story behind HB Studios’ inaugural release, Women on Top, is any indication, Davenport’s leadership will lead to a spirit of experimentation when it comes to developing work. What was meant as a single interview with broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien turned into an exploration of universal questions with 10 women at different places in their lives. “[O’Brien] was such a powerful interview that I was like, ‘We should ask more women these questions.'”
We talked with Davenport about the initial reception to HB Studios, narrative depictions of black women in media and the downside of making work-life balance a primary goal.
FBNY: Between your duties as editorial director and working on the launch of HB Studios, you have a lot on your plate. How do you prioritize while trying to maintain balance between your work and personal life?
Davenport: I think women, thanks to all of the ‘lean in’ conversations, have gotten really captivated by this work-life balance thing, and I don’t know that that’s even real. You spend the majority of your time at work, so it’s not balanced to start. But if you love what you’re doing, then work can sometimes feel less like work. You should have a healthy balance of work and self-care and play, but sometimes working is my play. The reality is I don’t have a balanced life right now, but I’m having a really fun time.
And in terms of prioritization, I make a list every morning of the must-dos and then I put the if-I-can-dos underneath. You can’t do everything in a day, but you prioritize things that are going to be most impactful.
FBNY: Looking at HelloBeautiful.com, you see a mix of news, beauty, celebrity and career content. What is behind the decision for all these different types of content to live in the same space?
Davenport: When I first got to the site, [it] was almost exclusively entertainment with a little bit of beauty. That was our bread and butter. Looking at the landscape, I thought, OK, well, there are a million entertainment blogs, and even the news blogs talk about entertainment at this point. So what do we have to offer? What’s our value proposition to our audience? And so we systematically started adding on content areas.
We wanted to embrace the fact that women are very versatile and dynamic. Part of our mission statement is we serve our audience shamelessly. We don’t feel like one thing is more important than the other — your passion for beauty or passion for your job, the fact that you want to be current on news and events, and that you watch The Real Housewives. That’s why we made a conscious decision to make sure we have those things live in the same environment.
FBNY: In the press release for HB Studios, you said that images of black women in media are focused on creating one specific narrative. What is that narrative and what are the narratives you’re hoping to counter with?
Davenport: I don’t want to demonize all narratives of black women, but I personally feel you see either this kind of hyper-materialistic, mean-spirited, catty woman or you’re seeing the workaholic, non-balanced, can’t-get-a-man and so-sad woman. There are maybe these three or four archetypes for black women we’ve seen reinforced visually over and over again, and it gets to the point where you’re starting to feel like there’s no nuance in this person. She’s either strong to the point of detrimental or she’s silly and shallow to the point of kind of being an idiot, and you’re kind of like, this isn’t my reality; this isn’t who my friends are.
One of the things I really take issue with in terms of the current narrative is the lack of sisterhood and the lack of support within black women, and that’s just not been my personal reality whatsoever. What we’re looking to do is just expand who this woman is. You know, she can be educated and a mom, and very sweet, and very good at what she does. Or she can be a superstar, maven person, but be super into community service and giving back and women’s empowerment. And even in a more basic way, just allowing black women to be vulnerable on screen without being weak and without needing to be saved or rescued is something we’re just not seeing enough of. So I really hope that’s something we can explore in an impactful way.
FBNY: You mentioned as well how your inaugural doc, Women on Top, is a manifesto of what you believe your brand represents. Is this also the direction you would like HelloBeautiful to move toward as well?
Davenport: I think HelloBeautiful and HB Studios get to serve different lanes. It all ladders up to our overall voice, but HB Studios and Women on Top as [its] launch product, to me, is like a speaking piece of work that explains the way we at HelloBeautiful discuss womanhood all the time.
Women on Top has older women, younger women, women who’ve done amazing things in their career, women that are still aspiring to reach their level, and they’re still tied together by this common narrative of what it means to embrace their womanhood and their femininity. You’ll have Soledad O’Brien, who has a very, very different perspective at her age and level of accomplishment than a Chrisette Michele, who’s still barely 30 years old and trying to figure it out. And that’s what HelloBeautiful does represent, that there’s a lot of diversity in the experience and that all of those voices are connected, but one isn’t more superior to the other.
FBNY: What have you learned so far from the creation of and the reception to Women on Top and the future of HB Studios?
Davenport: It’s been kind of overwhelming. When we put it together and watched it, we thought it was awesome. But we think it’s awesome because we know these women — you know, it could be very specific. [But] we’ve gotten more shares of the content than likes. They say on Facebook people tend to take one action, and we’re very proud that the action they’re taking is to share it. We’ve gotten comments like, ‘Every woman should see this. I know this is women of color, but every woman should watch this. This is so powerful. It moved me. I feel better today than I did yesterday,’ those kinds of things.
What it’s told us is our consumer insights that women want more than what we’ve been given is accurate. It gives us the confidence to go into our next creative endeavors and say empowerment and truth speaking and diversity of voice is something that can be well received. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring. It doesn’t have to hit you over the head every time, but there is something people are craving and people are looking for.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jim Romenesko has shared New York Times reporter Rich Meislin’s April 22 farewell note to colleagues. After many years at the paper and an unlikely return after taking a 2008 buyout, Meislin swears this time it’s for good.
— John Schwartz (@jswatz) April 22, 2015
About halfway through the note, Meislin very candidly touches on some behind-the-scenes personal drama:
My additional, private hope was that I could prove that I was a great reporter and become a correspondent before they found out I was gay.
Because when I started here, being gay was something you didn’t admit at The Times, except to someone you were certain was gay as well. The world outside was a far more hostile place for gay people than it is today – and you learned very quickly that this was true or maybe truer inside The Times.
…Not least is that I’m standing here with my husband, Hendrik, who has been my rock for more than 23 years and deserves medals for endurance from both me and The Times.
The print newspaper business is in tatters, relative to when Meislin first started. On the other hand, gay reporters don’t have to live on the QT and in fear, the way he once did. Read the rest of the farewell note here.
“Houston, we have a problem…” That’s essentially how it all began for Tierra Smith (pictured), the Grambling State University graduating student who today was named National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) 2015 Student Journalist of the Year.
From the announcement:
A native of Milwaukee, Smith became fascinated with the media when she was accidentally enrolled in a journalism course at her high school in Houston.
“If they never put me in that class, I would have never been exposed to journalism,” Smith said, in a piece written last year for The New York Times Student Journalism Institute. She was a 2014 participant in The Times program at Dillard University and she was a 2014 student journalist with the NABJ Student Multimedia Projects.
Her high school journalism teacher was going to remove her from the class because she did not have the necessary pre-requisites, but she saw her passion and decided to let her stay. A few months into the class, Smith was named an editor of the high school’s newspaper and yearbook.
Kudos to that high school teacher for bending the rules. And congrats to Smith, exiting EIC of newspaper The Gramblinite, for carrying on so successfully with this accidental vocation. Smith will intern this summer at the Denver Post as a Dow Jones News Fund business reporter, before beginning graduate studies at Louisiana State in the fall.
The NABJ also today announced that ProPulbica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones has been selected as their 2015 Journalist of the Year. Both she and Smith will be presented with the awards at this summer’s NABJ annual annual convention in Minneapolis.[Photo courtesy: nabj.org]
A recurring highlight of Seth Meyers‘ recent visit to Yankee Stadium are his turns at the PA mic. He starts off by sharing the mother of all ticket-holder WiFi passwords and later, offers phantom fans advice about a dog running loose.
The Meyers remote is a fun bookend to that recently shared bit of video from a game featuring Jimmy Fallon and Lorne Michaels. Especially since another one of the Late Show’s PA bits involves the boss man.
Tons more stuff in the video above, including some fun interaction with bat boy Alex Simeone, clubhouse attendant Cesar Caseras, organist Paul Cartier, beer vendor Michael Marshall and radio announcer Michael Kay. (“…Oh my goodness, Pedroia has picked up the squirrel and he fires it home to Hannigan…”)
Welcome back to another edition of FishbowlNY’s weekly Cover Battle. This round features Fast Company taking on The Atlantic.
Fast Company’s latest tells everyone that it’s time to stop wondering when Marissa Mayer will be fired from Yahoo. Not that this will ever happen. Media reporters have been obsessed with this topic since Mayer was hired. It’s almost like they’re holding her to a different standard because she’s a woman. Almost.
The Atlantic, meanwhile, went with a Starbucks barista with excessively plucked eyebrows. You gotta let things breathe, my man.
So readers, which cover is better? You can vote, comment, or do both.
Have you been watching, DVR-ing the new version of The Late Late Show? We have and so far, it’s much better than anyone could have expected.
James Corden has got boatloads of charisma. But it’s his co-opting of the format of The Graham Norton Show that has really separated this talker from the fray. American networks re-invent British sitcoms all the time, and essentially, that’s what Corden has done at the talk show end, borrowing one of the very best parts of business from a comedy idol. And sure, if you want to get technical, Merv Griffin did this as well. But in Corden’s case, it’s really fun now a few months in at the CBS end to revisit some of his Norton appearances.
Corden has appeared multiple times on Norton’s BBC “chat show.” Whether it’s recalling his early boy band Insatiable and calculated single “Girl Are You Ready” (while on the couch next to Jessical Biel and Sarah Millican), or making up rhyming lyrics on the spot (next to Paul McCartney and Katy Perry), these are the dry runs that helped Corden so successfully launch out of the Yankee gate.
The New York Times’ The Upshot—which focuses on the intersection of news and data—is one year old. In honor of making it, the site has posted its 250 most popular stories.
Out of more than 1,500 articles published, The Upshot’s most-read piece was an interactive map of the United States that displays the “hardest places to live.” A quick takeaway of that chart: Do not move to Mississippi. Also, if you live in Mississippi, move.
You could spend the rest of your day looking at The Upshot’s most popular content. It’s really that good.
Lange’s essays, reviews and features have appeared in Architect, Domus, Dwell, Metropolis, New York Magazine, The New Yorker blog and The New York Times and T magazine. She taught architecture criticism in the Design Criticism Program at the School of Visual Arts and the Urban Design & Architecture Studies Program at New York University. During academic year 2013–2014, she was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Lange is the author of Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012), a primer on how to read and write architecture criticism, as well as the e-book The Dot-Com City: Silicon Valley Urbanism (Strelka Press, 2012), which considers the message of the physical spaces of Facebook, Google, and Apple.
The addition of Lange comes on the heels of Curbe’s recent hire of Asad Syrkett as the site’s national editor. Both additions are the first staffing moves made by Kelsey Keith, who joined Curbed in March as the site’s first EIC. Syrkett came to Curbed from Architectural Digest, where he was an editor.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
Barry Diller Makes Waves with Grandiose Pier Plan
Gawker’s JK Trotter conducted an interview with BuzzFeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti and editor Ben Smith, and the result was one giant mess. The idea behind the interview was great — Trotter exposed BuzzFeed for deleting posts that upset BuzzFeed advertisers. This would’ve been a chance for Peretti and Smith to explain themselves. Instead, the interview is a pile of garbage trash.
Go ahead and try to read through the entire “lightly edited” exchange. It is awful in every way. The rare moments when there are complete sentences, they don’t even make sense. Trotter, Peretti and Smith jump around from topic to topic. At times, it feels like you’re on the outside of an extensive, inside joke. Speaking of length, the interview is way too long. God bless the poor souls who read the entire thing; they know not what they do.
Obviously Gawker thought that publishing the exchange in its original form provided more transparency, but interviews are edited for a reason. The Trotter, Peretti and Smith discussion will remind you why. Several times over.
It’s the complete opposite of those gargantuan celebrity events with tents, helicopters, paparazzi and exclusive photos auctioned off to a magazine for charity.
Rickman was asked what the secret to a successful relationship without getting married is and he surprisingly replied: “We are married. Just recently. It was great, because no one was there. After the wedding in New York we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and ate lunch.”
Rickman, 69, has been with Rima Horton, an economist, since 1977. A truly, madly, deeply inspired way to finally make it official. Congratulations!
[Photo of Rickman at 2013 Venice International Film Festival: taniavolobueva/Shutterstock.com]
The New York Times has named three new senior VPs of advertising. Details are below.Sebastian Tomich has been named senior VP for advertising and innovation. Tomic was most recently VP, advertising and branded content. Brendan Monaghan, publisher T: The New York Times Style Magazine, will continue in this role while adding senior VP of advertising to his title. Monaghan has been publisher of T since 2013. JC Demarta has also been named senior VP of advertising. He most recently served as VP, global advertising.
Saveur has added two editors to its team. Details are below.Ben Mims joins as food editor. This is return to Saveur for Mims, as he served as associate food editor at the magazine from 2008 to 2012. Mims comes to Saveur from Time Inc, where he developed and tested recipes for brands such as Food & Wine, Real Simple, All You, and InStyle. Peter Jon Lindberg has been named editor-at-large. Lindberg is the contributing international editor and senior correspondent for Condé Nast Traveler. He most recently served as Travel + Leisure’s editor-at-large. at Travel + Leisure.
It was Hollywood on the Hudson at Michael’s today, with Uma Thurman and Brian Grazer dining and dishing among the power lunch crowd. It seemed only fitting that I was joined by People and Entertainment Weekly’s editorial director Jess Cagle and group publisher Karen Kovacs, to chew over the current state of celebrity reporting and how digital is upping the ante for both brands.
Diane Clehane, Karen Kovacs and Jess Cagle
Fresh off this morning’s appearance on Good Morning America, where Jess revealed People had bestowed this year’s title of the World’s Most Beautiful Woman to Sandra Bullock, he explained the reasons behind selecting the 50 year-old Oscar-winning actress this way: “She just seemed like the right person to do right now. She is a woman who gets better and better over time and checks all the boxes. She’s got inner and outer beauty.” Jess told me he “couldn’t believe how many people asked him” if People was going to tap newlywed Amal Clooney for the title. (My two cents: I might give her Best Dressed, but Most Beautiful is another story.) He was quick to note that Sandra agreed to do a sit-down for the cover, despite having no current project to promote. Her only concern, he said, was that she didn’t want any photos of her son Louis used in the story, which was a non-issue for the magazine. “People does not run photos of celebrities’ kids unless they are at expected venues like red carpets.”
The days leading up to publication of the issue were a bit of a nail-biter since another perennial People favorite, Kate Middleton (that’s the Duchess of Cambridge to you), is about to give birth any day now. “I had the Duggars praying that she didn’t deliver early,” joked Jess, who, I suspect was only half-kidding. Karen told me that advertisers “want to be in the issue with the royal birth,” and her team had “a plan for every day of the week,” should the arrival of the British bouncing bundle of joy happen to coincide with the close of the Most Beautiful issue.
When Uma Thurman sailed by, the conversation turned to the fine art of finessing the celebrity interview. I asked Jess what he thought set People apart from the sea of virtually indistinguishable titles covering the same territory. “Access and trust,” he said. “I can’t parse the difference between Us Weekly and In Touch. With People, it’s trust.” Which is why advertisers have helped make People the largest and most profitable Time Inc. magazine media brand “delivering product to one in four women,” said Karen.
While the 41-year-old publishing behemoth is hardly showing its age, the future isn’t in print, explained Jess. With People.com racking up 72 million uniques last month, “our growth is in digital and video. People.com is poised for enormous growth.” Feeding the beast requires generating more content and video on demand, while leveraging People’s most popular franchises. Editorial director Will Lee has brought a much more dynamic and engaging look and feel to the site. Right now, the site is “teasing out” various pieces in the World’s Most Beautiful issue and will be doing more of those kinds of stories in the future. “We should be doing Sexiest Man content every day.” Veteran entertainment exec Richard Battista, the new evp of Time Inc. and president of People and Entertainment Weekly, is broadening the scope of prospective brand extensions into video production, television and licensing. People is in the “preliminary stages” of “making deals with well-known talent” to host new video projects, too. As for bringing back last year’s kudocast, neither Jess nor Karen would say the People Magazine Awards will be back next year. “An awards show might make more sense for EW,” said Jess.
Entertainment Weekly, which turns 25 this year, is in good shape, but there’s plenty of room for improvement, said Jess. “The quality of television today ensures the survival of EW if we capitalize it. EW is the most under-leveraged [brand].” While there’s the potential for some cross-over with People on both the editorial and business sides, “it’s important to maintain the brands’ individual voice,” said Karen. But that doesn’t mean it can’t get a boost now and then from People. Next month, the two brands will co-host its first Upfront party here in New York at the High Line Hotel.
Jess, who has been with Time Inc. for an unbelievable 28 years (he started out as an intern at People in 1986) told me he’s looking forward to the planned move downtown later this year, where print and digital will be housed on one floor in an open newsroom floor plan. “It’s old school,” he said, but at the same time it will help facilitate a stronger connection between print and the 24/7 cycle of digital. Does this mean there will be more layoffs and buyouts in the future? “We’ve done all the attrition we can do,” said Jess, who added that he expects to hire more writers once the dust settles. “This is the most exciting and transformational time to be at People and Entertainment Weekly.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Hector DeJean of St. Martin’s Press, presiding over a table full of literary folks we didn’t get to meet
2. Wayne Kabak and Bill Hemmer
3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and David Zinczenko
4. Sony’s Martin Bandier
5. Uma Thurman, who, I’m happy to report, looked fabulous without makeup. She sailed into the dining room, air kissed her assistant and was later joined by Town & Country editor Jay Fielden and some other casually clad folks. Brian Grazer stopped by the table to say his hellos.
6. Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Andy Bergman
8. Lally Weymouth
9. Christina Wayne and Marshall Brickman talking television
11. PMK*BNC’s chairman and CEO Cindi Berger
12. Faith Consolo
14. Brian Grazer and David Zaslav (yes, he was wearing his fleece vest)
15. Jack Kliger and Nina Link
16. Larry Spangler
17. Jay Kriegel
18. Ron Dozoretz
20. Producer Joan Gelman and radio legend Joan Hamburg
21. Jon Ledecky, who, we’re told, is part owner of the New York Islanders
22. Robert Keating
23. Jim Abernethy
24. Ron Kramer
25. PR maestro Tom Goodman with Bloomberg Media Group’s Steve Nazaruk
26. Fashionista Harriet Weintraub
27. Alexandra Lebenthal
28. Patrick Murphy
29. Financial Times’ Gillian Tett
81. Author Wednesday Martin whose new book, The Primates of Park Avenue, is raising eyebrows among the Upper East Side set
Diane Clehane is a FishbowlNY contributor. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
In advance of Friday’s closely guarded Diane Sawyer 20/20 interview special with Bruce Jenner, journalist Ross Forman shared a captivating recent conversation with a person who blazed the transgender media trail.
Now 80, Renée Richards is wrapping up some final professional activities this year, with plans to then retire in Florida. From the Windy City Times interview:
Richards lives about 80 minutes north of New York City, “in the country, in the woods, on the water,” she said of the English cottage she has called home for about 15 years. She lives with her best friend and former office manager of about 30 years — a straight, widowed woman. Richards stopped operating [as an ophthalmologist] at the end of 2014 and will stop seeing patients later this year. Then the two, and their two dogs, will head south.
Sure, she has a tennis court about 50 feet from her home, but she stopped playing a long time ago. She picked up golf about 20 or 25 years ago, and that’s her sporting pleasure these days — her latest sporting venture.
Richards was, mind you, a New York native who played competitive football team as a teen, participated in swimming meets and was such a talented baseball pitcher that she often attracted the interest of pro scouts.
Begs to wonder, what if… and yes, she too, thinks about what if she opted for a different life path as opposed to tennis. “I had ability in baseball. Who knows what would have happened with my life if I ever [got to] pitch in Yankee Stadium. I don’t know. But I’m not good at woulda, coulda, shoulda. I don’t like that,” she said.
Richards was in the eye of the media storm long before Jenner, who today says he will sue the paparazzi agency that provided the New York Daily News with an invasive Malibu shot obtained via telephoto lens. She talks Forman about a number of other topics, including her most recent book Spy Night and Other Memories: A Collection of Stories from Dick and Renee. Earlier this year, Richards wrote a brief op-ed for AlJazeera America about Jenner and denied reports she was acting as his so-called “sex change coach.”
[Jacket cover courtesy: Keith Publications LLC]
LostRemote: According to a new survey, 68 percent of consumers engage in binge-watching. In related news, the sun is bright and hurts our eyes.
AgencySpy: Want to f*ck with people and maybe sell some jeans? Install treadmill in a fitting room.
PRNewser: Google only wants to be friends with those who are friends with mobile readers.
Paper, a magazine most people had never heard of until Kim Kardashian West posed naked for its cover, now has another big star for its front: Kim’s husband, Kanye West.
Kanye’s cover, to the disappointment of many, features a lot less oily butt than Kim’s cover. It’s still quite good though.