MyTimes: Personalization from the NY Times Finally Launched

MyTimesAfter a year of deliberating, the New York Times has finally begun to embrace the changes sweeping the media industry.  Their personalization service, MyTimes officially launched Thursday

The project originally began in April of 2006 with a beta launch.  For the past year they were testing the customizable front page and  RSS reader against pools of users to figure out what level of functionality best fit their customers.  The offering released today is light compared to competing services but it does embrace Web 2.0 features. MyTimes allows editors to make content recommendations and readers can indulge with widgets (mini-feature applications) like Flickr photos, bookmarks, and weather data to add additional functionality.    Multiple pages, organized by content or otherwise, are also possible.  Click to Read More

Yay or Nay? Tribune Co Shareholder Vote Today

caution signToday’s a witching day for Tribune Co.  After months of waiting the shareholders of the media giant will converge on Chicago to issue their votes of Yay or Nay on Sam Zell’s $8.4b leveraged buyout. As much as the deal should be a foregone conclusion, there’s enough uncertainty to make for a crazy day… even with shareholder approval almost assured. 

Leading the charge of trouble is the company’s growing debt.   Tribune already borrowed $7b to buy back shares as part of the deal.  It is obligated to repay $1.5b of that within two years.  The company will also borrow more than $4b more to buy out additional shares. 

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Publishing Rumors: Forbes and Clipmarks, the Post and the Times


When it comes to business news, there are usually a few good takeover or acquisition rumors floating around.  They make good water-cooler conversations and fuel the tanks of curiosity.  Sometimes the stories pan out and “unconfirmed sources” turn out to be accurate insider gossip, other times, the comments prove yarns worthy of super market tabloids.

Tuesday, the publishing industry was the day’s hot topic with two unrelated, and  both unconfirmed, stories in the rumor mills and on the coconut telegraphs.

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The MySpace Journal? Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal Officially Sold to News Corp?

journalIt was long held that to buy Dow Jones (and its Wall Street Journal property) a buyer would have to hit a mythical number above $60 a share called the Hammer Price (named after a longtime Bancroft family lawyer who years ago turned away offers from the Washington Post and New York Times for being too low)

In May, when Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. launched a friendly takeover attempt, they hit that number (and offering it represented a 65 percent premium over the April 30th closing price for the stock).  By legend, it should have been enough to close a deal.   Legend wasn’t reality.   In an up and down roller coaster of on-again, off-again reports, as recently as yesterday, it was looking like even the Hammer Price wouldn’t be enough to take control of the historic media property. Now it’s looking like the tides have changed again.

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Syndicating User Generated News? NowPublic raises $10.6m

nowpublicOne of the tenets of the Web 2.0 world is user-generated content, the idea that anyone can use a few easy internet tools to publish their works – a blog, an article, a video, a picture, whatever you want. 

With Web 2.0 there are fewer editors, fewer barriers.  That obviously brings with it pros and cons.  On the one hand it gives voices to hundreds of thousands of people who might otherwise not have been able to get past the gatekeepers.  There’s an opportunity for anyone to find an audience.  On the other hand, well, it gives voices to hundreds of thousands of people who might otherwise have not been able to get past the gatekeepers.    Everyone is able to judge for themselves what is worth paying attention to and what isn’t, but sometimes the gatekeepers (the editors, the A&R people, the talent scouts) functioned as as a useful filter.  Web 2.0 often lacks that – for better and for worse.   The challenge in the new media world is finding what you want; separating the metaphorical wheat from the chafe, finding the diamonds and throwing back the coal.

In journalism, outside of blogs and those equipped to build and host their own websites, one of the Web 2.0 companies embracing user generated content for news has been NowPublic. Now, thanks to a new financing, they’ll soon become more widely known.

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Hearst Interactive Media Acquiring UGO Network

hearst ugoHearst Corporation is largely known for its collection of magazines and newspapers which includes titles ranging from Esquire and Cosmopolitan to O to the San Francisco Chronicle but the company is also one of the worlds largest diversified media companies.  In addition to its print properties, Hearst has vast media holdings including stakes in television channels, Television networks including ESPN and A&E Networks and significant Internet properties and investments.

Today, Hearst announced UGO Networks (aka Underground Online) will join the list.  UGO will be acquired by Hearst’s Interactive Media division.  While the division has been an active investor in a number of Internet properties (Brightcove, Pandora, iVillage) this will be one of its first outright purchases of a large property.

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Introducing the Endorsement Sheet: Celeb Ad Tracking Lists

(Metue Celebrity Endorsement Lists are now live on the site. Read the article below or follow the links at the bottom of this article  for more information)

celebYou can’t legally download a Beatles song online yet but you can hear “All You Need is Love” play on TV in support of Luvs diaper sales.   Put off by that? Change the channel but beware, across the channels, TV and radio, famed songs, and new releases from Janis Joplin (Mercedes) to Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody) to John Mellencamp (Our Country) all play in marketing campaigns.   The song Our Country even debuted in advertising months before it was available as a single.

We live in Billboard Nation; a consumer culture.  Celebrities looking to stay in the public eye can do it by selling products. They can market themselves and get paid to do it at the same time. Popular songs can be soundtracks to a sale.   Turn on the TV and that voice selling cars may be one you know (Kevin Spacey, Gary Sinese). Similarly open a magazine and chances are you’ll see a recognizable face on the pages promoting a product.  The guitar riff in a commercial? Not necessarily a jingle.

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