Vice has named Neil Breakwell its London bureau chief and Kevin Sutcliffe senior vp, TV and video programming, EMEA.
Breakwell comes to Vice from BBC, where he served as deputy editor of BBC Newsnight.
Sutcliffe most recently served as Vice News’ head of news programing for Europe.
Modern day robber baron Peter Thiel has confirmed that he has been funding Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea’s lawsuits against Gawker Media. In an interview with The New York Times, Thiel comes off as quite proud of it, too.
Thiel told the Times that Gawker’s posts about him were “very painful and paralyzing” and that funding lawsuits against the site was “less about revenge and more about specific deterrence.”
“I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest,” added Thiel. He even said that funding the Gawker lawsuits was “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.” Thiel then laughed maniacally, pulled his black cape up to his face and dashed off into the night.
Thiel—someone who has funded the Committee to Protect Journalists—is reveling in his ability to crush free speech. He doesn’t see it that way, of course. Thiel believes that he’s in the right, and besides, it’s only one outlet. He told the Times that other media companies need not worry about his attack, because Gawker was a “singularly terrible bully.”
But what if another outlet comes along and publishes something about him that he doesn’t like? We’re just supposed to believe him that he won’t try to destroy it? What if a different billionaire hears about Thiel’s moves and decides to do the same, simply because he has money and has decided the outlet was in the wrong? Where does it stop?
We’re not defending Gawker; we’re defending free speech. We’re also pointing out that the wealthy and powerful cannot, and should not, go unchecked like this.
Unless Thiel doesn’t agree; then forget it. Right, Peter? Peter! Our boy! Love what you’ve done with your hair. Have you lost weight? Looking fantastic!
Please don’t sue us.
Ha ha. From the way Mike Francesa pronounces Lionel Messi’s first name (making the FC Barcelona and team Argentina star sound more like a character in Charles Schultz’s Peanuts) to the gentle rhetorical questions posed throughout, the WFAN personality’s commentary this week about the May 30 issue of Sports Illustrated is some kind of fun to listen to. Think older guy, politely instructing: “Get off my lawn, and take that soccer ball with you.”
Francesa acknowledgtes that for devoted soccer fans, the upcoming Copa América is a big deal. But from the point of view of his beloved SI and mainstream America, he cannot understand why the editors would choose to put Messi on the cover and devote 11 pages inside to a tournament he had never heard of. At one point, Francesa frames it in simple WFAN terms, asking an on-air colleague:
“Has anybody every called you and said, ‘Listen, can you help promote Copa América on Mike’s show?’… Bottom line is not one person has ever, ever done that.”
Sports Illustrated, the host argues, is now just a “sad reminder of a different world.” Listen to the full segment below.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
This Summer, Lionel Messi Hopes to Meet Steph Curry
Martha Stewart Weddings has named Laura Wallis executive editor. Wallis most recently served as a contributor to several magazines, including Real Simple, Family Circle and ShopSmart.
Wallis will report to Wedding’ editor in chief Amy Conway.
Additionally, Weddings has added Leigh Crandall as a senior editor; Dawn Sinkowski as photo director; and Joanna Garcia as associate photo editor.
If it’s Wednesday, it must be Michael’s. Having spent the better part of last week on my couch binge-watching Outlander (my new obsession) thanks to a bout with the flu, I was thrilled to be back on the beat at 55th and Fifth. It was a full house today — so much so that I took my dessert to go so a late-arriving Mel Brooks could take over my table.
I was joined today by Melinda Henneberger, who has been editor in chief at Roll Call since last November. When I ‘Lunched’ with Roll Call head honcho David Ellis last fall, he hinted that he’d be making some big news shortly. Melinda’s arrival certainly was. It was the first in a series of moves that shook things up in their Washington, D.C. offices, with Melinda bringing in a raft of new talent including columnists Patricia Murphy, Walter Shapiro, Jon Allen and Mary C. Curtis, reporter Alex Roarty and deputy editor Ed Timms. Melinda, who left her post at Bloomberg where she covered politics to take the helm at Roll Call, has some serious street cred among her political peers. As founder and EIC of AOL’s Politics Daily, she conceptualized the site and oversaw a team of writers and editors whose work attracted 8 million monthly uniques. At The Washington Post, she was a columnist and edited the paper’s opinion blog of women writers, She the People. She also spent a decade at The New York Times, as a metro reporter, Washington correspondent and Bureau Chief in Rome (Fun fact: Once seated at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, you are not allowed to get up to go to the rest room.)
Melinda is in town to speak to some foreign correspondents at the State Department’s Foreign Press Center here in the city. The topic? The ins and outs of covering the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions. Judging from the dishy anecdotes she shared at lunch, she’s got plenty of material to draw from. She covered her first convention in 1988 in Atlanta when Michael Dukakis was the Democratic nominee. During all the hoopla, somehow she found herself locked out of the convention hall with none other than Rosa Parks. “This was pre-cell phones, or at least I didn’t have one, and I was frantically trying to get her into the hall.” But the legendary civil rights activist took it all in stride. “She was laughing over the whole thing.”
Our conversation turned quite serious when discussing — what else? — the upcoming presidential election. When I asked her to characterize the mood among political reporters who are out in the field covering the candidates — particularly Donald Trump, she made a stunning admission first uncovered by one of her columnists. “Some people take security with them to cover Trump rallies,” she said before continuing. “A lot of people won’t go in the press pen anymore because it’s too dangerous. At every rally he [motions to the area where the press is gathered] and says ‘these are the worst people in the world’ and everyone turns around [to look at the reporters.] It’s very threatening. I’m amazed something worse hasn’t happened. Political campaigns used to be one of the safest places [for a reporter to be,] not anymore.”
Although Roll Call is focused on covering Capitol Hill, this year they’ve widened their scope to cover this “surreal” campaign season. “What happens in the presidential election directly effects the Senate and maybe the House. It’s all intertwined,” Melinda told me. As for chronicling Donald Trump’s candidacy she said, “We only cover Trump as it relates to Congress and to the [national] conservation.” The “big focus” up to now has been “Are the Republicans in Washington going to treat him like any other nominee?” She cited the “tough race” between New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan. “[Ayotte] said ‘I’m going to support the nominee. Most [Republicans] seem to have fallen in line. When Paul Ryan talks about the ‘core values’ he has with Trump, the question has been answered.” The question now for CQ Roll Call to explore, said Melinda, is “What effect does the election have Down-Ballot races?” Her answer: “It can go two ways.” Will the candidates’ largely unfavorable ratings in the polls keep people away on Election Day or bring them out to vote against the opposition? “It’s still early,” she told me.
While it may not seem so, there are plenty of other stories for Roll Call to cover. The intrepid staff of 30 (including two full-time photographers) cranks out 30 stories a day for its redesigned website, which includes more photography and podcasts about key down-ballot races. With the rest of the media consumed with covering the never-ending reality show that is now accepted as real-life campaigns for the presidency, there is a real opportunity for Roll Call to report on stories that are being largely overlooked. “We did a package of two stories which looked at Dennis Hastert,” said Melinda. “I’m from a small town in rural Illinois and I know that everyone knew everything about other people’s business. Capitol Hill is the ultimate small town. Simone Pathe and Stephanie Akin went to the two small towns: Hastert’s hometown in Illinois where [Hastert] was a wrestling coach and to Capitol Hill. In his hometown, the reporter found someone who said his mother wouldn’t let him go on school trips with Hastert.” Which raises the question, said Melinda, how is it possible no one in Congress knew about the allegations that the former House speaker sexually abused boys during his years as a high school coach? “When it comes to people in power,” she asked, “What are people willing not to notice?”
So what words of wisdom is she planning on sharing with those foreign journalists about to cover their first presidential convention? “I’m going to tell them something Carl Cannon from RealClearPolitics told me, ‘Don’t drink and drive. It’s never a good idea, but there’s so much security at the convention, you won’t get away with it.'” On a more practical level: “First, hang out at hotels. Breakfast is where you can catch people. You won’t get them on the convention floor. Second, the stories will be in the dissenting voices and third, don’t get too carried away by what you hear from the delegates. They’re the true believers.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. LA bigwig Harold Applebaum
2. Mickey Ateyeh
3. Andrew Stein and Danielle
4. Author Wednesday Martin with Jennifer Baumgardner
5. Harris Katleman
6. Dr. Jerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Michael Kramer
7. Lucianne Goldberg, Bonnie Dudley and two other gals we didn’t get to meet
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Emilia St. Amand
9. Alexis Zinberg
10. Karen Lefrak
11. Esther Newberg
12. EMI’s Neil Lasher
14. Esquire’s EIC Jay Fielden, who is now pulling double duty at Hearst as editorial director for Town & Country.
15. Pierre Levai
16. Penkse Media’s vice chairman Gerry Byrne with Debbie Menin, so we’re told…
17. Charlie Schuler
18. Marc Rosen
20. Jaqui Lividini
21. Jay Kriegel
23. Bob Tobin
25. Scott Marden
26. Pauline Brown and Cynthia Germanotta. I ‘Lunched’ with Pauline a few weeks back when, coincidentally, she introduced me to Cynthia who, you may know, is Lady Gaga’s mother.
27. Act One: Melinda Henneberger, Lisa Linden and yours truly; The Late Show: Mel Brooks
28. Elizabeth Goodman
29. David Sanford and Lewis Stein. Long time no see! David tells me he’s enjoying retirement since saying farewell to his colleagues at The Wall Street Journal last year.
Faces in the crowd: Producer Beverly Camhe and Bill McCuddy.
Diane Clehane is a FishbowlNY contributor. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
The second of four national events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize is fast approaching. At the George W. Bush Presidential Center June 2-3, panelists will address the topic of “The Presidency and the Press.”
In advance of the celebration, the Dallas Morning News spoke with one of its own. This is the ninth and final year that vice president and editorial page editor Keven Ann Willey will serve as a Pulitzer Prize Board member. When asked by fellow Morning News editor Mike Wilson to name a couple of prize-winning works that have been particularly meaningful to her, Willey provided a powerful answer:
“Two books in particular have rocked my world. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, by Douglas A. Blackmon, won in 2009 for nonfiction. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America, by Gilbert King, was the 2013 winner in that category. They taught me more about my country and fellow Americans than all my high school and college courses combined. Both should be required reading. One of my fantasies is to get to cast the movies.”
Willey, who is chairing the board’s centennial committee, was also last month named co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board. Read the rest of her comments here.
Jacket cover courtesy: Anchor
The New York Times is joining the Associated Press in lowercasing the word “Internet.”
The paper announced that starting June 1, Internet will lose its capital ‘i’ on every Times platform. As you can tell, Adweek has not decided to join the lowercasing party.
As for the Times, the decision to drop the capital ‘i’ was made because that’s the way the tide is turning.
“One of our guidelines is prevailing usage — it’s not always to be out on a limb,” said Jill Taylor, editor of the Times’ copy desks. “Now that AP has changed and all of their client newspapers are going to be following that same style, it’s a little more seamless.”
Please, Internet, try not to get worked up about this.
So… it is rather funny that today’s announcement about James Wagner (pictured) moving from the Washington Post to The New York Times comes on the heels of Matt Harvey’s second recent loss to Stephen Strasburg. Wagner, who covered the Nationals, will now write for the Times about the Mets.
Here’s the full memo from Washington Post sports editor Matt Vita and deputy sports editor Matt Rennie:
We’re very sorry to announce that James Wagner will be leaving us to cover the Mets for The New York Times. James came to the Post in 2010 as a high school sports reporter and in 2012 moved to the Nationals beat, where he teamed first with Adam Kilgore and for the past season-plus with Chelsea Janes to provide Nationals fans with some of the best baseball coverage anywhere in the country. James is soft-spoken and humble by nature, but he is also a fierce competitor and a very hard worker, traits that helped him connect on a personal level with players in the clubhouse and break several news stories involving the team over the past four seasons. We’ll miss his warm spirit, but we wish him well. We’ll have an official goodbye for James in early June.
With James’ departure, Jorge Castillo will be moving from the Wizards to the Nationals. Like Chelsea, Jorge was a summer intern with the Post. We managed to coax him back down to Washington in 2014 to cover the Wizards after he had spent three years with the Newark Star-Ledger covering the New York Giants, including their 2011 Super Bowl run, and then the Mets and Yankees. On the Wizards beat, Jorge earned the trust of players and the respect of the front office for his fair, balanced reporting, and he kept the Post and our readers on top of all major news developments involving the team.
He also demonstrated a flair for the offbeat story, including two memorable features on NBA clothing trends – one on players’ move away from hip hop-inspired fashion to high-end suits and stylish hats when off the court and, this past season, on the rising hemlines of game shorts around the league. As comfortable as Jorge has demonstrated himself to be on the NBA, baseball is the sport closest to his heart. He’s fluent in Spanish, a huge plus in a game in which a third of its players are Latino.
Needless to say, we’re excited to see what Chelsea and Jorge can do together on the Nationals beat.
Wagner had a fun item about last night’s Mets-Nationals game. About Ben Revere hitting a home run.
H/T: Martyn Chase
The Wall Street Journal has added two staffers to the subscription-based WSJ Pro. Details are below.Tomio Geron has been named a reporter for Pro’s venture capitalist team. He most recently worked for Forbes. This is homecoming of sorts for Geron, as he previously worked for Dow Jones from 2007 to 2011, when he joined Forbes. Alec Davis also joins the Pro VC team as a news editor. Davis is a former longtime managing editor of MarketWatch.
The axiom “optimized for mobile” is on full display today thanks to a redesign by The New York Times of its Best Sellers website section, where the paper’s authoritative lists of the most popular fiction, non-fiction and children’s book titles are housed.
Here’s what the page looked like previously:
And here’s what the page looks like today, thanks to a full redesign that just went live:
The change is as dramatic as a book debuting on one of the lists at number one. The New York Times Best Sellers lists are updated online every Friday. Heading into this summer’s first big holiday weekend, there’s no doubt the new layout is a much more dynamic way for users to access the information, be they lounging in a hammock or standing in front of a bookstore display.
Other new features include links to book reviews and visual call outs of books that are new to a list.
For whatever it’s worth, the literary community does not like Donald Trump.
More than 1,000 writers—including Curtis Sittenfeld, Stephen King, David Eggers, and Junot Díaz—have signed an online petition protesting Trump.
“Because the rise of a political candidate who deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society, who encourages aggression among his followers, shouts down opponents, intimidates dissenters, and denigrates women and minorities, demands, from each of us, an immediate and forceful response,” read the open letter attached to the petition.
In an effort to further revamp the New York Times as a digital-first company, the paper will offer buyouts to newsroom and business department staffers at the end of the month.
“These plans will no doubt lead to new initiatives and investments,” wrote Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and executive editor Dean Baquet, in a memo. “At the same time, we will also need to make tough decisions about what to stop doing. Wherever we can reduce costs without damaging the values, and value, of Times journalism, we will do so.”
There was no word on how many buyouts will be offered or whether layoffs will follow if not enough staffers accept the packages. Unfortunately, the odds are that staffing cuts are coming.
Actor Ed Asner, 85, will fly to Ottawa, Canada this summer to film a second season of the CBC-TV series Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays. Asner plays the part of Dr. Wasserman, the psychiatrist who treats another psychiatrist.
“First of all, I look at whatever’s offered and if it pleases me, I say yes. And I’m afraid, in terms of my diminishing access to money, I accept more and more crap.”
“First of all, I tour with a one-man show called A Man and His Prostate. And it’s been very successful. … I’m going to Columbia, Maryland, for a TV pilot for a comedy. On completion of that, I go to Canada, to Ottawa, and I spend about a week there filming in a series that I did before it was canceled, and now it’s been revived. It’s called Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, about a psychiatrist, and I’m his psychiatrist. It’s a very intelligent show and [I take] great pleasure in doing it. Other than that and my one-man show, that’s what the future has to offer right now.”
The reason for Asner’s chat with Rosenberg is this week’s belated and thrilling DVD release of Lou Grant. Season One of the 1977-1982 CBS-TV series is out this week, with Season Two set to be released in August. In the amNewYork interview, Asner also has some fun comments about journalists who might have been inspired to join the profession by that program, and how Lou might navigate today’s media world.
In addition, because of the perception that Asner’s personal political leanings might have had something to do with Lou Grant’s cancellation, he tells Rosenberg he has not really watched the show since its original airing, and is very much looking forward now to sitting down with these successive DVD releases.
Image courtesy: Shout! Factory
Business Insider is expanding its empire with the launch of Insider, a lifestyle site. Insider has actually been around for about 10 months now, but it has existed only on other platforms, like Facebook and Snapchat.
While previous Insider content has been exclusively video, the site features text and photography as well. Insider has seven areas of coverage: art, health, people, food, travel, design and culture. Nicholas Carlson serves as the site’s editor in chief.
“Insider proves that the old rules of media brand-building no longer need apply — social and the network effect can quickly scale an audience,” said BI founder and editor Henry Blodget, in a statement. “It’s been amazing to watch Nich and his team create such big waves in such a short amount of time, and it will be great fun to watch them play with the new format to engage audiences in new ways.”
Vice Media is “restructuring,” which means cutting around 15 staffers and promoting Josh Tyrangiel to oversee the company’s entire news division.
Those cut stateside included digital producers, writers and editors. According to Politico, the entire Vice Media UK news staff was also let go.
As part of the changes, Vice plans to open bureaus in San Francisco and Hong Kong.
“The plan in place will expand Vice’s news offerings across digital and TV, continue the recent of wave of newsroom hires, add additional foreign bureaus, and marshal the company’s existing news divisions into one cohesive powerhouse,” a Vice spokesperson told Politico.
File this under You Can’t Make This Shit Up: Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and member of Facebook’s board of directors, has been bankrolling Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea’s lawsuits against Gawker Media. It’s an insane story. It’s also extremely unnerving.
The New York Times reports that Thiel made a secret (well, not anymore) deal with Bollea to fund his lawsuits against Gawker in a movie-villain-like search for revenge.
The reason Thiel is likely doing this is because in 2007, Gawker outed Thiel as a gay man. Gawker’s Silicon Valley gossip site Valleywag also frequently blasted Thiel. Things got so bad that Thiel once described Valleywag as “The Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda.” Valleywags staffers, he said, were “terrorists, not… writers or reporters.”
Bollea has so far been awarded $140 million from Gawker for publishing his sex tape. The likelihood that he actually rakes that much in is slim, but the legal costs of the ongoing trials are sinking Gawker. Thiel doesn’t really care about helping Bollea, he just wants to hurt Gawker.
Obviously Gawker is gross and yes, its day of reckoning seems to have come. Yet however you feel about Gawker should take a back seat to the frightening notion that a billionaire can take a publication down by anonymously bankrolling lawsuits that have no connection to him whatsoever.
Revenge, it seems, is a dish best served by crushing the freedom of the press.
A couple Revolving Door items for you this morning, involving New York and The New York Post. Details are below.New York has named named Craig Jenkins pop music critic for both the magazine and Vulture. Jenkins’ work has been seen in Pitchfork, Billboard, Spin, Noisey, and more. Kaja Whitehouse has rejoined the Post to cover federal courts. Whitehouse previously worked for the Post as a tech reporter. She spent the last two years with USA Today.
The good news is that it’s a common cold, of a kind that occurs when the managerial temperature of a brand like Esquire suddenly changes. The main symptom is an uptick in the usual ebb and flow of staffers both joining and exiting the publication.
Here’s the diagnosis from Esquire, in the form of a statement provided to FishbowlNY today by a magazine spokesperson: “Jay [Fielden] is building his team at Esquire, hiring outstanding journalists and editors as he re-imagines the brand for an ambitious new era.” (Our Adweek colleague Emma Bazilian also today has a Q&A with Fielden.)
And here’s how departed Esquire senior editor Ross McCammon, via Twitter in late March, framed the exit of Fielden’s predecessor David Granger:
Terms for being fired in descending order of dignity:
Around the time of McCammon’s tweet, we reported that Esquire fashion editor Wendell Brown was moving over to The Daily Beast. Also at new homes now are former art director Stravinski Pierre (Elle) and former associate editor Anna Peale (GQ).
Expect to hear news of several more Esquire departures in the coming weeks.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
Gay Talese Still Not Sure Sinatra Read That Esquire Piece
Gay Talese’s $200 Frank Sinatra Book